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Santos to Undergo Cancer Surgery as Peace Talks Approach

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, 61, will undergo surgery in Bogotá today to remove a non-aggressive tumor located in the prostate gland. Details of the condition and the procedure were revealed by the president on Monday, hours after the tumor was discovered and only a week before the awaited peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC) begin in Norway.

“There's a 97 percent chance of being totally cured,” assured the president, who joined the list of Latin American past and present leaders such as Presidents Hugo Chávez and Cristina Fernández, and former Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and Fernando Lugo who have suffered from this condition in the past two years.

Andrés Paris, FARC’s spokesperson in Cuba, assured that the president’s health will not get in the way of the peace talks. According to Colombian affairs specialist Harvey Kline, if Santos is able to broker a peace deal with the FARC in the coming months, it will ensure his re-election in 2014. Experts estimate the FARC has today only one third of the combatants it had 10 years ago. Given the government’s military advantage over the armed group, this time a peace agreement seems increasingly plausible.

All actors, including former President Uribe—who has become the biggest opposition of Santos’ peace process—expressed their support to the president and wished for his short recovery. Santos will be conscious during the surgery and is expected to return to his residency in two or three days.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: Cancer, Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos

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