Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC said Thursday it wants a peace deal with the government to include comprehensive social and economic reforms and a less intensive cooperation with the United States.
“We’ve come to look for peace with social justice in Colombia,” alias “Ivan Marquez,” head of the FARC delegation and member of the group’s ruling seven-member secretariat, said at a press conference in a hotel 30 miles north of Oslo.
According to the senior FARC commander, a sustainable deal to end the rebel group’s 48-year-long war with the state must include rigid land reforms, restrictions imposed on multinational mining and oil businesses and more autonomy towards Colombia’s traditional ally, the United States, which has determined the FARC a terrorist organization.
Marquez also criticized currently proposed agricultural reforms of the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the role of multinational companies in the exploitation of Colombia’s natural resources.
“The mining and energy locomotive is like a destructive socio-environmental demon that, unless the people stop it, will covert Colombia in an unlivable country within a decade,” said the guerrilla leader.
The FARC negotiator named and shamed mining multinationals like Drummond and Cerrejon, and blamed Colombian corporations such as Grupo Santo Domingo and wealthy families like that of former President Alvaro Uribe of being at the root of social injustice and paramilitary killings, thus justifying the FARC’s violence.
“In Colombia there exists no national economy. Those who export oil, carbon, ferronickel and gold and benefit of it are the multinationals, so the prosperity is of them and the sold leaders, not of the country,” said Marquez.
The rebel leader’s public appearance was the first since 2007, when he represented the FARC in the Venezuelan capital Caracas in negotiations over the release of hostages held by the FARC.
His rebel group has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. The war between the state, left-wing guerrilla groups like the FARC and right-wing paramilitary organizations has cost the lives of at least 100,000 Colombians.