FARC sets out demands for peace talks

Jan. 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM

BOGOTA, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Land reform and a decrease in inequality are the minimum demands to reach a peace agreement with the government, Colombia's largest rebel group says.

The demands were set out in an interview with FARC's lead negotiator, known as Ivan Marquez, published Tuesday by Colombia Reports.

Marquez said the government must at least agree to "comprehensive rural reform and the reversal of the Gini coefficient" -- a standard used by the World Bank to measure a country's inequality. Colombia is ranked seventh worst in the world, in line with Haiti and Angola.

Marquez called the ranking "a mirror that reflects the terrible inequality that is prevalent in the sector."

The Colombian government says the economic model is not up for discussion during the talks, Marquez said the economic model is tied to social improvements in the country.

"Dignified life in the cities depends on rural stability, and vice versa," he said. "It should strengthen the symbiotic relationship so that Colombia moves forward. We must democratize national life, beginning with the democratization of land ownership."

President Juan Manuel Santos has indicated a willingness to act on the same issues that concern Marquez. In a late December speech, Santos spoke of "a true peace; a peace that is not just the end of violence but also progress towards a greater social justice."

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