How will the FARC-Colombia peace talks impact Latin America?
Ridding Latin America of the FARC could mean a better business climate, reduced tensions between Colombia and its neighbors, and space for the rise of a new left in Colombia.
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The region has rallied around this latest attempt. The talks, which began in secret in Cuba before officially opening in Oslo, will now move back to Cuba. Chile and Venezuela are accompanying the process with representatives.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Colombia: Living with the FARC
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'Deepening of ties'
Peace would likely attract more investment to Colombia and beyond. But perhaps the country with the most to gain is Venezuela.
In a recent interview on television Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said: "Peace will permit the deepening of ties. Venezuela has everything to gain from peace," according to The Associated Press. "We have a 2,200-kilometer border from point to point, and peace will help strengthen integration projects, economic development, the creation of joint economic zones.... It's the great opportunity for all these projects that sometimes are truncated to reopen for good."
It could also help ease tensions in the region. Both Venezuela and Ecuador have butted heads with Colombia, especially under Uribe. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and to a lesser extent Ecuador's Rafael Correa, have both been accused by Colombia of harboring FARC rebels. In 2008, Raúl Reyes, the FARC's No. 2, was killed at his hideout in neighboring Ecuador, bringing widespread rebuke from Ecuador and Venezuela for Colombia’s military incursion into foreign territory.
Bilateral relations have been greatly improved under Santos. Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, says that Santos gambled that without improved relations with Venezuela the FARC would continue to use Venezuelan territory as a refuge. However, by mending relations, Mr. Chávez, who just won another six-year term, would see peace in Colombia as in his best interest.
“After his rereelection Chávez has a chance to contribute to peace, and in so doing, improve his international image,” says Mr. Shifter.
Both nations are dependent on each other for peace. Elsa Cardozo, a professor of international studies at the Central University of Venezuela, says that for years analysts said peace in Colombia would mean peace in Venezuela. But the opposite is also true: “Without peace in Venezuela,” Ms. Cardozo says, “peace in Colombia is at risk.”
'Easier to deal with other problems'
Peace in Colombia could also mean more peace for other countries in the region as well. The FARC morphed from a peasant organization with Marxist ideals to an organized crime network that deals in the drug trade. "One of the best organized criminal networks and violence-producing networks would be out of the picture in the region. I am inclined to think that of course it would have a beneficial effect [on the region]," says Mr. Isacson.