Colombia’s Senate President on Sunday rejected assertions made by the country’s largest guerrilla group, FARC, who claimed they are in the driver seat when it comes to making demands.
According to Caracol Radio, Senate President Roy Barreras said, “The FARC are wrong in saying we have nothing to give and everything to demand. Clearly they have to deliver [acknowledge and release their] hostages…and [provide] truth and reparation for victims.”
FARC has made contradictory statements recently regarding the issue of hostages. Rodrigo Granda, considered the rebel’s foreign minister, was forced to backtrack from comments made by fellow guerrilla, Sandra Ramirez, who told a Cuban newspaper that the FARC continued to hold “prisoners of war” for bargaining purposes.
Government and FARC negotiators are on break until January 14. In a joint statement on Friday, both sides said talks are progressing in “an atmosphere of respect and constructive spirit.”
Despite the respectful nature of the discussions, both sides still remain far apart regarding to what extent the country’s socioeconomic model needs to be changed via the peace process. The government has said time and again that the model is not up for debate and that if FARC want to amend it, they should do so by disarming and becoming a political force like other guerrilla bands have done in the past. The rebels, though, maintain that the country “urgently needs changes to unjust structures…[and] if you don’t want conflict, you have to remove those causes.”
Barreras’ condemnation came as the Senate President announced that the second round of regional roundtables is ready to begin. The roundtables collect peace proposals from the public and then submit them to both negotiating teams in Havana, Cuba.
Barreras claimed that “FARC are mistaken if they think these dialogues will be eternal and without concrete progress, and they are doubly wrong if they do not express their willingness to compromise for the sake of peace and deliver the truth about kidnapping…In a negotiation everyone has to give and you cannot start by saying [you] have nothing to give.”