HAVANA/BOGOTA Oct 4 Colombia's government and
Marxist guerrillas went back to the drawing board in Havana on
Tuesday after a peace deal they painstakingly negotiated over
four years was rejected in a shock referendum result.
In a vote that confounded opinion polls and was a disaster
for President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombians narrowly rebuffed
the pact on Sunday as too lenient on the rebels.
The government said the president's lead negotiators,
Humberto de la Calle and Sergio Jaramillo, were back at a Havana
convention center on Tuesday meeting Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC) counterparts to see if a new deal, stringent
enough to satisfy critics, can be hashed out.
The Cuban capital was the venue for talks between the two
sides since 2012 that reached an accord to end Colombia's
52-year war that has killed around a quarter of a million
Rescuing the peace deal may be a long and complex process.
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said the
decision whether to officially renegotiate the accord lies with
"The thing is, just as the government has its deal breakers,
so does the FARC, so we have to see if it is willing to reopen
the accord," Holguin told reporters.
All sides, including "No" voters, who carried the day on
Sunday by less than half a percentage point, say they want an
end to war, and the two parties have kept their ceasefire.
But there is vehement opposition - led by hardline former
President Alvaro Uribe - to major planks of the previous deal,
including guaranteed congressional seats for the FARC and
immunity from traditional jail sentences for leaders.
A renegotiation seems to depend on whether the FARC would
accept tougher conditions, maybe combined with a softening of
demands from Uribe. After years of refusing to meet negotiators,
Uribe has now said he is willing to seek a joint solution.
Three representatives from his right-wing Democratic Center
party are to pour over details with three from the government.
In what is turning into a dual negotiation process, those
meetings are to commence once de la Calle returns from Cuba.
Colombian financial markets fell on Monday as investors
fretted the peace deal limbo would hold up fiscal reforms like
Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, however, said the tax
reforms would go ahead.
The peso currency weakened another 0.92 percent
to 2,958 per dollar on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Andrew
Cawthorne and Helen Murphy; Editing by Alistair Bell)