Following a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Colombia’s FARC rebels praised the United States after years of condemning “the empire’s” foreign policy in Latin America.
FARC leader Timochenko, one of the guerrilla chiefs who met with Kerry, said Tuesday the meeting was “historic, unprecedented” and until recently “unthinkable.”
“We received from him in person the support for the peace process in Colombia,” said Timochenko, whose group has long protested US involvement in the country’s half-a-century armed conflict.
Kerry met with the FARC leadership while he and US President Barack Obama were in Cuba for the first presidential summit in 88 years.
Cuba is also the host country of peace talks between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.
During the talks, Kerry pressed the FARC on soon coming to a final peace deal with the government, but also promised to help with the protection of demobilized guerrillas who could become the target of dissident comrades or rival neo-paramilitary groups.
Kerry’s “concrete commitments” to protecting disarmed FARC fighters would be an important part of meeting the FARC’s request the rebel said in a statement.
But the FARC’s commander in chief went even further, saying Kerry’s support for the process and alleged commitment to the security of demobilizing guerrillas “fills us with optimism and gives us even ore reassurance we are heading towards peace.”
Kerry “personally expressed his disposition to support us in what we need to reach peace in Colombia,” according to Timochenko.
Having completed almost three and a half years of negotiations, the guerrillas and government promised in September that a final peace deal would be reached before March 23, which is Wednesday.
This, however, is not going to happen, both parties have already indicated.
Nevertheless, both the FARC and the government have been optimistic about the prospects of peace.