FARC leader and peace talks delegate alias “Pablo Catatumbo” asked the United States to contribute to the ongoing peace process between Colombia’s government and the country’s oldest rebel group during an interview with a Russian TV channel on Monday.
Catatumbo, one of the rebels’ representatives in ongoing negotiations being held with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba, claimed that the United States has a a historical obligation to take a proactive stance in favor of peace in the Andean nation.
“When we think about the origins of our armed conflict, our war, one of its roots goes back into the 1950s when the concepts of the cold war were born. Since then the US has been in involved in elaborating and financing counter-insurgency strategies and has been present in our country,” the rebel leader told Russian TV channel RT, referring to the CIA’s promotion of paramilitarism as a solution to Colombia’s armed rebel insurgency.
Catatumbo went on to discuss the various forms United States intervention has taken in Colombia, mentioning the more recent example of Plan Colombia: a controversial bilateral agreement between the United States and Colombia aimed at reducing drug trafficking and cultivation and supporting the Colombian military in its fight against the rebels.
The agreement has been a large part of the United States’ “War on Drugs” policy since 1999, and recently received an additional $320 million from the US Congress, despite the controversy surrounding the program’s use of indiscriminate airborne herbicide as a means of fighting coca cultivation.
Catatumbo – who has an international search warrant issued against him by Interpol and United States officials related to drug trafficking charges – said Plan Colombia is part of the United States’ longstanding “repression against the Colombian people,” and suggesting that “US participation in and contribution to the ongoing peace process” was a moral obligation.
United States intervention in Colombia’s armed conflict became a heated issue recently, when a report was released in December 2013, revealing that a covert CIA program has helped Colombia’s armed forces kill more than two dozen leaders of the FARC and ELN rebel groups in the past several years.
The topic brought Catatumbo back to one of the FARC’s primary positions throughout peace negotiations. In what has been depicted as a historic development, the FARC has acknowledged wrongdoing on its part, but has insisted that the blame extends beyond the rebels, to corporations, Colombia’s elite, outside powers and the national government.
The FARC have previously called for the creation of truth commissions to disclose the roles the armed conflict’s various actors have played in the violence.
Catatumbo said that while the government plans to allow the Colombian people to decide the fate of a potential peace deal by putting any forthcoming agreement to a referendum, the FARC continues to reject that proposal in favor of a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Colombian constitution.
Catatumbo said he “recognized” the obvious contrasts, but still thinks that these differences are not “insurmountable.”