Arango, a member of the guerrilla group since 1977 has been associated with FARC splinter groups outside Colombia according to newspaper El Tiempo, and his presence at public events in Venezuela allegedly contributed to the difficult relations between that country and Colombia. The guerrilla also participated in the La Uribe peace talks in the 80s.
Santrich has also been a FARC member since the 70s and was Arango’s deputy in the Caribbean Bloc. His name was among possible successors of guerrilla leader “Mono Jojoy” in the Eastern Bloc.
At a press conference in Cuba, FARC member Hermes Aguilar thanked the representatives from Chile, Colombia and Venzuela who have accompanied the preliminary talks between the rebels and the Colombian government.
In a televised press conference held at the same time, top FARC leader Timochenko said: “These are vain pretentions from those who say we are coming to the table to disarm and surrender.”
“In tribute to the victims and their families, we make a commitment to fight relentlessly for peace,” said Timochenko at the videoed press conference recorded in Colombia.
“This new peace process represents the triumph of the winds of change in our America, it represents the triumph of Bolivarian chants,” said the guerrilla leader at the conference which ended in chants and cheers from armed guerrillas watching by video link.
President Juan Manuel Santos appointed former Vice-president Humberto de la Calle and Sergio Jaramillo as his representatives at the negotiations that will formally begin in Norway’s capital Oslo on October 8th.
Generals Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel of the army and Oscar Naranjo of the police along with former Environment Minister Frank Pearl and president of the National Business Council of the Andes, Luis Carlos Villegas were appointed as Commissioners for the Peace.