Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba said in a radio interview Wednesday that she is in negotiations with guerrilla organization the FARC to go beyond a prisoner exchange and seek a resolution to the civil conflict that has enveloped Colombia for almost 50 years.
Cordoba, the leader of “Colombians for Peace,” who has negotiated the liberation of FARC hostages in the past, said she is discussing the issues of land mines, children involved in the conflict and “regional” exchanges of FARC hostages for incarcerated guerrillas.
The Liberal Party senator stressed that the FARC will not engage in any more unilateral hostage exchanges. “There would be different conditions, which I am not going to mention because I don’t think it would be prudent,” she said.
Cordoba confirmed she had met with Bishop of Manangue Monseñor Leonardo Gomez and said that “we reaffirmed that we will continue to work to seek the liberation of the hostages, and peace.”
“We have been moving forward in our dialogues … And what we discussed the last time was that there will be no individual handover [of hostages], but rather it would be the whole group, unilateral,” Gomez said.
Cordoba said that if the FARC stop their practice of kidnapping and begin to respect international human rights, then the way may become open to “exit the war.” She added that the guerrilla organization has “opened the door” to “a political discussion in order to resolve the conflict.”
Cordoba has worked with the Catholic Church and the International Red Cross in the past to secure the release of several FARC hostages.
Between seventeen and nineteen members of Colombia’s armed forces remain in FARC captivity. In mid June the Colombian armed forces rescued four FARC hostageswho had been in captivity for almost twelve years, in a mission titled “Operation Chameleon.”