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Give peasants land, Colombia rebels urge

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Leftist rebels holding peace talks with Colombia's government called on it Saturday to hand over a huge amount of land to farmers so as to address the key issue of rural poverty.

The FARC guerrilla group emerged in the 1960s precisely because of the huge gap in wealth between peasants and ultra-wealthy owners of huge haciendas, or estates.

Land redistribution is one of the most critical issues on the agenda of peace talks that began in November in a bid to end Colombia's conflict, which has gone on for nearly 50 years and is Latin America's oldest.

A FARC statement released Saturday at the peace talks in Havana said the government has a duty to "settle its historic debt" by turning over land.

It attached figures: nine million hectares to be assigned to peasants, for them to farm individually or in collectives, and another seven million for food production.

These plots could come from abandoned or underproducing farms, or land confiscated from drug traffickers, or seized through the use of violence, the FARC statement said.

It was read to reporters by Ivan Marquez, head of the rebel delegation to the talks.

The two delegations have said they are narrowing differences on the issue of rural inequality.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130209/give-peasants-land-colombia-rebels-urge-0