Tuesday’s session got off to a rough start as the FARC released a statement asking the government to delay next year’s presidential, municipal and legislative elections to give negotiators more time to reach a deal.
“It’s unsettling that legislative electoral pressure could damage, fade, or destroy forever our hopes of reconciliation,” the group said in a statement. They also renewed calls to overhaul the constitution.
But de la Calle shot down those ideas. “That’s not going to happen,” he said, referring to them as “distractions.”
The talks are also facing external pressures. Earlier this month, Venezuela, which is one of the observers of the process, said it would have to reconsider its role after Santos met with Venezuelan opposition figure Henrique Capriles. Although Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro eventually said he would continue supporting the process, he’s also maintained claims that Colombian mercenaries, working with Venezuela’s opposition, are out to kill him. He called a cabinet meeting Tuesday to discuss the future of Venezuela-Colombia relations.
Martín Sanchez, 28, was in Colombia’s army for seven years until a landmine explosion left him deaf in one ear and forced him to retire in January. Despite spending all of his adult life fighting the FARC, he said he wouldn’t have any problem voting for his old enemies.
“A lot of what the FARC talks about makes sense to me,” he said, citing their calls for social equality and more emphasis on rural development. “But I’d have to see how they are as politicians, because the ones we have now are terrible.”