A decade after a stinging failure, Colombia appears once again prepared to enter into peace talks in an effort to bring an end to Latin America's oldest insurgency.
The lay of the land is vastly different from the last time the government sought peace with the guerrillas, who have been waging a war since the 1960s. So the time may be ripe for action.
But the betrayal of the previous peace process left a lasting scar.
President Juan Manuel Santos revealed Monday that "exploratory talks" with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were under way.
Public opinion against the FARC is widespread, and so is distrust in a rebel group that abused government efforts to negotiate peace between 1998 and 2002.
Back then, President Andres Pastrana created a demilitarized zone (larger in size than Switzerland) for the rebels to use as a haven. The FARC instead used the zone to build itself up militarily and carried out fearsome attacks until the talks broke down.
"Today, the conditions are very different," said Camilo Gomez, who as former high peace commissioner under Pastrana sat at the negotiating table.
"The FARC knows the time has come to make peace, and the government shouldn't be triumphalist, but knows there is a chance now for the public to accept (negotiations)," he said.
During the failed talks of a decade ago, the realities of both the government and the rebels were completely different, he said.
Colombia was facing a staggering economy, its military was woefully under-trained, attacks by rebels were at their most brazen and the government's own legitimacy was in question amid scandal.
In contrast, today the government is in a much stronger position, and the FARC has suffered a string of military defeats over the past several years.
Sooner or later, the moment for negotiation had to arrive, Gomez said.
Speaking on national TV, Santos said military operations would continue alongside any negotiations with guerrillas.
"Colombians can rest assured that the government is acting with prudence, seriousness and firmness -- always putting first the welfare and peace of all residents," the president said.
Santos hasn't elaborated on what shape the potential talks will take, but on Tuesday announced that Luis Eduardo Garzon, a popular former leftist mayor of Bogota, will play a key role.
On a radio program Tuesday, the president said that Garzon will have the rank of minister, though he will have a specific task.
"Now that we are entering into the possibility of having a peace process, we need a key person who can help us harmonize the people and teach and hold that important social dialogue," Santos said.
But the crassness with which the guerrillas disregarded and exploited the last opportunity still stings many Colombians.
"The government doesn't seem to have learned from history," said Alfredo Rangel, director of the Center for Security and Democracy at Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota.
"I think it's problematic that the government started negotiations with this terrorist group without asking first for it to stop all attacks on civilians," he said.
Santos, who is up for re-election in 2014, has seen his popularity plummet, and is foremost concerned with his political future, Rangel said.
Engaging in talks with the guerrillas is a desperate attempt to generate public support for his administration, he said.
It could backfire on the president, he warned: "There is enormous distrust in the guerrillas."
Rangel agrees with other critics who say peace talks are possible only if the FARC enforces a unilateral cease-fire. While the group has been severely weakened over time, it continues to carry out kidnappings and finances its operations through drug trafficking.
"That's easy to say, but difficult to do," said Gomez, the former peace commissioner.