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Peace negotiations between the government of Colombia and the FARC guerrillas took a major step forward on Wednesday when both sides agreed on a framework for the FARC's future participation in Colombian politics.

Under the deal reached in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday Colombia would create special congressional districts known as "peace districts" that could make it easier for FARC members to win seats in the country's congress.

Colombia would also devise laws that would ensure the participation of social movements - including those that are ideologically similar to the FARC - in local politics.

In the deal the government also said that it would set aside time for social movements on state-run media channels. Colombia also promised to guarantee a role for social movements in a wide range of local political processes, such as the setting of local budgets, and oversight of government agencies.


However, the most talked about part of yesterday's deal are plans to establish congressional "peace districts" in the areas of Colombia that have been most hard hit by the decades-old armed conflict.

According to some Colombian media reports, there will be 11 "peace districts" that will be ensured direct seats in the Colombian Congress despite their relatively small populations.


Critics have pointed out that the FARC guerrillas could use their drug money and their influence in remote parts of Colombia to illegally win elections in "peace districts," and ensure spots in Congress for their leaders. But if elections in these parts of Colombia are properly run and well monitored, the FARC would have to compete against other local leaders for congressional spots.

Winning spots in congress under those circumstances would be no easy task for the guerrillas. In a recent poll taken in areas of Colombia that have been heavily hit by the armed conflict, 69 percent of respondents said that they opposed having FARC leaders in political posts.


Peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC began in Oslo, Norway in October of 2012 and have continued in Cuba since November of last year.

Now that the government and the guerrillas have agreed on a way in which the FARC would enter politics, there are still four big items which they must agree on before anything gets implemented.


These items include how to ensure the guerrilla's disarmament, what to do about drug trafficking in Colombia and how to ensure justice for war victims.

Solving these issues will not be an easy task.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos is being pressured to stop the talks by opposition leaders who have criticized him for being too lenient on guerrilla leaders who've been accused of multiple human rights abuses.


However, Santos has a political incentive for the peace talks to succeed.

Presidential elections will take place in Colombia next May, and if Santos were to bring an end to the country's decades old armed conflict, his chances to get re-elected for a second term would receive a huge boost.


Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.