Colombia’s largest guerrilla group FARC have insisted their participation in peace talks with the government does not mean they will simply surrender.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press on Friday, FARC criticized Colombian Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon for propagating the, “misleading idea that what is involved [in the peace process] is a brief itinerary of [FARC] surrender in return for insubstantial promises from the government.”
High-level representatives from FARC and the Colombian national government are currently holding peace talks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Despite their desire for peace, the two warring parties have not agreed to a ceasefire or a slowdown in military operations.
On the contrary, over the past five days FARC have been accused of killing ten people and injuring dozens more in three separate attacks in the country’s southwest region.
The administration of Juan Manuel Santos has also recently announced several decisions that indicate a military build-up. Defence Minister Pinzon declared on Thursday the government’s plan to add 25,000 new soldiers to the armed forces, a task that will be made easier given that Santos pledged an extra $5.7 billion to the 2013 defense budget.
Pinzon and conservative analysts have long argued that the strength of Colombia’s military helped bring FARC to the negotiating table in the first place, insofar as military operations over the past decade have increased the costs of war for the insurgents.
FARC responded in their communiqué that the peace process should not be read, “as if it were an expression of weakness.”
The prospects of peace in Colombia will be made clearer over the next two weeks, during which time the government and FARC are expected to reach some kind of peace accord. The implementation of the peace deal will then be debated in mid-November in Havana, Cuba.