On Saturday October 13 2012, in an article cited as three years old and titled Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez played role in Colombia’s peace talks with Farc, the Guardian Newspaper wrote that Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez “played a critical role in bringing the Colombian government and the Farc guerrilla group together for peace talks that could end one of Latin America’s longest-running civil wars, the Observer has learned.
“According to sources closely involved in the peace process, which sees historic talks opening in Oslo on Wednesday, the key breakthrough after almost four years of back-channel talks between the two sides came during a visit earlier this year by Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, to Cuba, where he met both Castro and Chávez, who was in Cuba being treated for cancer.
The first meeting in Havana
“That meeting was the first of many in Havana between the two sides, facilitated primarily by Cuba and Norway with the backing of Venezuela, which saw agreement on the detailed agenda for the first round of talks this week. “Officially President Santos went to Cuba to discuss the Americas summit,” said a source intimately involved in the peace negotiations. “But the purpose of that trip was to discuss the peace initiative.”
“The meetings earlier this year followed the decision last year by Santos to take the step of recognising that an “armed conflict” existed in his country, an initiative encouraged by Chávez since 2008. Those contacts also came in the same period that Farc announced it was ending kidnapping, one of five preconditions for talks that had been set down by Santos as a gesture of goodwill …
“The disclosure of the key role of Cuba in organising support for the peace process marked the culmination of a long period of back-channel talks first initiated by Santos’s predecessor as president, Alvaro Uribe, under whom Santos served as minister of defence.
“During those four years contacts continued despite the death during an army operation of Farc’s leader, Alfonso Cano, last year.”
Upon his arrival in Havana for the signing of the peace agreement, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro emphasized Hugo Chávez’s role in the peace process stating that “I am here for him.”
Maduro recalled that Chávez, on the request of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, was one of the initiators of the peace talks in Havana, convened to put an end to a 50-year long armed conflict.
“The diplomacy of peace must be noted at this historical time,” he said after congratulating the Colombian people, President Santos, and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces-People’s Army (FARC-EP), for the progress made over the last few months, adding, “Colombia’s peace is everyone’s peace.”
Venezuela serves as an accompanying country to the peace talks, along with Chile, while Norway and Cuba are the guarantors.