By Peter Bolton and Alejandro Gonzalez
Along Bogotá’s iconic Carerra Septima, a semi-pedestrianized street usually bustling only with local Bogotános buying from the stores and street vendors lining the thoroughfare, a very different sight was seen on April 9. A sea of people from all across Colombia marched with a common desire for an end to the country’s armed conflict. They lined the streets in a lively procession, including dancing, music and performance. Countless people waving flags, holding banners, and wearing symbolic T-shirts marched to the city’s famous Plaza de Bolívar, united by a common desire for peace.
One of the largest mobilizations for peace in recent memory, the march was planned to coincide with and support talks taking place in Havana between the Colombian government and the armed rebel group FARC. The talks, which began last year in Oslo, before moving to Havana, are of huge significance, given the hard-line stance taken by Colombia’s former president Álvaro Uribe, and considering that the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, a former defense minister in Uribe’s government, has committed such a bold about-face by engaging with the FARC. Significant gains have already been made. For example, a chief government negotiator recently announced that an agreement had been reached on the central issue of land.