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Colombia rebels slams govt on land bill
by Staff Writers
Havana (AFP) Jan 16, 2013

The FARC, founded in 1994 and estimated to have some 9,000 fighters under arms, agreed last year to peace talks with the government for the first time in a decade.

Colombia's FARC guerrilla group accused the government Wednesday of fast-tracking laws on sensitive issues like land ownership that are on the agenda of peace talks underway in Havana.

"The government should halt the precipitous movement in Congress of bills related to peace, until the people can take a position with the support of this (peace) process which belongs to everybody," the leftist rebel group said.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, the FARC singled out a bill that would govern land ownership in Colombia.

"It is painful to hear that the government will not touch the sacrosanct large landholdings," said the letter read out by Ricardo Tellez, a member of the FARC negotiating team.

The letter said the proposed law would do nothing to reverse foreign ownership of land or legal expropriations.

Since the rebel-government talks in Havana began in November, they have focused on land reform, an issue that ignited Latin America's longest insurgency nearly 50 years ago.

Besides land reform, negotiators have agreed to four other agenda items: the drug trade, political participation, the surrender of weapons and reparation for victims of the nearly 50 year old conflict.

On Tuesday, the FARC invited Agriculture Minister Restrepo to brief the negotiators on the government's land policies, but he declined.

The FARC, founded in 1994 and estimated to have some 9,000 fighters under arms, agreed last year to peace talks with the government for the first time in a decade.


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