viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012

President voices Colombia's anger at Hague ruling

President Juan Manuel Santos said in Colombia on 29 November that he was "shocked" and "deeply hurt" by the recent ruling by the International Court at the Hague that ceded chunks of its sea territory to Nicaragua to settle a border dispute. He told a policy event in the northern town of Apartadó that the ruling had hit Colombians' "morale" but vowed to use all legal means to ensure it "does not harm" their rights. This he said he would do peacefully but "firmly," without "shouting" at Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, whom he was scheduled to meet informally on 1 December, El Tiempo reported on 29 November. Colombia has reportedly engaged lawyers to design a plan of response to the ruling. Santos said separately in Bogotá that day that Colombia would not implement the ruling until the rights of Colombians living in the San Andrés Archipelago - the islands now effectively surrounded by Nicaraguan waters - are assured. Colombia already announced it would leave the Bogotá Pact treaty that gave the Hague Court authority to arbitrate between American states, though it remained bound by its provisions for another year. President Santos was expected to meet with Daniel Ortega in Mexico City as both were to attend the formal handover of presidential powers on 1 December. The decision to leave the Pact was criticized by certain observers in comments published by the daily El Espectador on 29 November. The jurist Fabián Augusto Cárdenas told the daily that Colombia could still be "taken to court" in disputes for another year "when the withdrawal comes into effect. In fact the cases that were already before the court will continue their ordinary course." An example was given by Ecuador's foreign minister, who was cited as saying that Colombia's departure from the Pact would not affect Ecuador's ongoing legal action over the effects on its people and territory of chemical fumigation of coca plantations in Colombia, near the frontier. The daily also cited jurist Mauricio Herdocia Sacasa as saying that while other states could not in the future force Colombia to accept arbitration in disputes, it too would be unable to take them to court. "Whoever shuts the door to others is doing the same to himself, in a world where there is always conflict and there will always be more powerful countries that will seek to impose their will. The Bogotá Pact is the innocent victim of this dispute," he said.

Colombia, rebels end first round of peace talks

Colombian negotiators and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) concluded their first round of peace talks in Havana on 29 November that focused on rural policies, and were to resume talks on 5 December, El Tiempo reported. The two sides began talks in October meant to end decades of internal conflict. Both sides repeated at press conferences the mechanisms the Conversations Table has envisaged for public participation and contribution to the negotiating process, including a a website designed from 7 December to publish communiqués and register public comments, and a debate to be held in Bogotá on 17-19 December. The two sides also agreed to seek the conclusions of consultations with regional communities organized by parliament in preceding months. Colombia's chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle asked the public to make "relevant and useful" contributions focused on the subjects of negotiation: land use or agrarian policies, political participation by the FARC, drug trafficking by the FARC and their disarmament and compensation of victims. The FARC negotiator known as Iván Marquez observed separately that mutual confidence had increased and the FARC would like to discuss an accord to "regulate" the "war" and minimize harm done to civilians. The daily separately cited President Juan Manuel Santos as saying in Colombia that "we are ready for peace" but there would be no ceasefire until "we sign the agreement of this second phase," presumably meaning the satisfactory conclusion of direct talks as set out in the talks agenda.