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LatAm in Focus: Frank Pearl on Colombia's Post-Conflict Challenges

Members of the FARC rebel group. (Image: AP)

May 17, 2016

"Enriching, demanding, oftentimes frustrating." —Colombia's @FrankPearl, on negotiating with FARC and ELN
Colombia's @FrankPearl talks with our own @adrianalarotta about peace and negotiating with FARC and ELN.

Colombia's peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are moving into final stages as delegates in Havana push for a conclusion to the decades-long conflict. On May 12, the two sides agreed on mechanisms to ensure the deal is observed by all and that it complies with Colombian and international law. They also agreed to reintegrate children linked to rebel forces.

The terms guarantee that Colombians get the final say on the accord through a plebiscite slated for September. But the steps to apply justice without allowing impunity are still matters of discussion, making this period crucial for peace efforts.

Frank Pearl, one of the negotiators participating in the Havana peace talks, spoke with AS/COA's Adriana La Rotta about how Colombians perceive the process and the importance of getting the deal right. "One thing we learned is that setting dates is not a good idea," Pearl explains, referring to a March 23 target date that came and went. "A deadline cannot be more important than a good agreement."

"A deadline cannot be more important than a good agreement."

Even as Colombia moves toward a post-conflict scenario, the country is deeply polarized over the accord, and Pearl sees the tone of debate as debilitating for Colombian society and the agreement's implementation. "Those political leaders, those civic leaders, those business leaders that are engaged in disrespectful conversations should reflect and set the example," he says.

He stressed that the difficult process of peace is being carried out primarily for the 15 to 20 million people living in parts of Colombia affected by the conflict's violence. Says Pearl: "We have a moral commitment to end a conflict that is preventing them from having dignity in their lives."

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Luisa Leme produced this episode.