85% of Colombians support resumption of dialogue with armed groups

Archive – President-elect of Colombia, Gustavo Petro. – JHON HEAVER PAZ / XINHUA NEWS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Eighty-five percent of Colombians support the ‘total peace’ law pushed through by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, which allows the Colombian government to promote peace talks with armed groups in order to negotiate with them and try to demobilize them, according to a poll by pollster Cifras y Conceptos.

Specifically, the sectors that most support the measure are those declared as leftist (97.2 percent support) and centrist (85.9 percent). However, the measure is also approved among those who declare themselves right-wing, although to a lesser extent (57.4 percent).

Thus, a large part of Colombians express their support for the negotiated path and peace over other strategies to put an end to armed groups and violence in the country. This has been a constant in the surveys of the last years, according to the Fundación Ideas para la Paz.

Asked whether security conditions will improve with the proposed negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, 26 percent of Colombians believe that they will improve «a lot», while a large 44 percent consider themselves neutral. Another 27 percent believe that security conditions will not improve at all.

Regarding whether the living conditions of the community will improve with the negotiations, Colombian citizens are somewhat more optimistic: 29 percent strongly believe they will, 43 percent consider themselves neutral, and 25 percent say they will not.

Meanwhile, Colombians have preferences on which armed groups should be dialogued with and which should be brought to justice, according to the survey.

Fifty-nine percent of citizens advocate dialogue with the National Liberation Army (ELN), compared to 34 percent who prefer to take them to court. As for the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), 43 percent prefer dialogue versus 49 percent who want the legal route.

With the Clan del Golfo, 37 percent of Colombians prefer dialogue, compared to 55 percent who would like legal proceedings.

In this sense, 47 percent of those polled were against pardoning the young men who make up the front line of the guerrillas, compared to 45 percent who would grant them a pardon.

Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro, proposed during his presidential campaign to implement a «total peace» that would promote the beginning of peace dialogues with armed and political organizations and end «the bloodbath» to which the country has been subjected for more than 50 years.

After its approval in Congress and the Senate, the Colombian Executive initiated last Monday in Caracas the peace talks with the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN). In a joint communiqué, both parties stated their willingness to «build peace based on democracy with justice».