Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Tuesday said it was not responsible for stealing hundreds of thousands of acres of land from the Colombian people.
Contrary to numerous reports of the guerrillas operating almost carte blanche in large swaths of Colombia and figures from the government’s Land Restitution Unit which said that 37% of all displacements are attributed to guerrillas, Ivan Marquez, the rebel’s chief negotiator at the FARC-government peace talks, said they are not the ones to blame.
“They disfigure reality…in a badly intentioned and perverse form, they try to divert [attention] from the causes and from who is truly responsible for the robbery of close to 8 million hectares (19.7 million acres),” said Marquez.
After the FARC’s top commander on Friday said that the government is obstructing the peace process due to their harsh rhetoric, Marquez said the government should not “rob” the peace process from the Colombian people.
“We hope the government does not abuse the table. We call on the Colombian people to mobilize in defense of the peace process, to not permit [the government] to rob us of this hope,” said the guerrilla leader.
Marquez intimated that the latest announcements by president Juan Manuel Santos were motivated by “electoral” concerns and his interest in “rebounding in the polls.”
Santos said Saturday that if negotiations with the FARC did not advance, the government would not hesitate to call them off. The president had previously stated that the talks would not last past November of 2013.