“You must be very careful that what you can agree on that matter does not restrict the use of the full capacity of the military forces and police in the pursuit and destruction of this group. The moment requires greater firmness in the framework of the rule of law, not appeasement that begets periods of more brutality and violence,” Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez wrote.
Pressure for a bilateral ceasefire had grown following the suspension of peace talks between the FARC and the government, following the FARC’s capture of an army general who had entered guerrilla-controlled territory ignoring all security protocols.
The guerrillas have criticized Santos for breaking off talks for what they see as an act of war, when the army has continued actions against the guerrillas and the government has repeatedly rejected offers of a bilateral ceasefire from the guerrilla group. Santos has hitherto insisted that there will be no let-up in attacks on the guerrillas.
The conservative Ordoñez, who is seen as an ally of former president Alvaro Uribe, drew the president’s attention to the earlier 1984-87 ceasefire which followed the La Uribe Agreement, claiming that “the FARC used the ‘truce’ with the sole purpose of creating an armed organisation national in scope, multiplying its capacity to wage war and implement the politico-military strategic plan it adopted at its seventh Conference of 1982. The result was disastrous. Taking advantage of the ‘truce’, the group doubled their fronts and with these doubled its territorial presence. …[The group also] increased the recruitment of children and multiplied its membership of 1,300 in 1982 to 8,200 guerrillas in 1990, a growth of over 530 per cent.”
The inspector general argued that rather than speeding up the ending of the armed conflict, a bilateral ceasefire would prolong violence, terrorism and drug trafficking, and a presidential refusal to curtail the army’s activities “should be supported by all.”
The FARC on Tuesday released soldiers Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Diaz, and are in the process of releasing General Alzate, Corporal Jorge Rodriguez and attorney Gloria Guerrero.
The FARC claims that they have not received any assurances for handing over their prisoners, but are making gestures that support the successful conclusion of peace talks in Havana.
FARC negotiators promised earlier this week to remain at the negotiating table until they reach a peace accord, but were immediately contradicted by FARC leader “Timochenko,” who warned the president that talks might end with the next suspension.