FARC leader “Timochenko,” on Tuesday boasted about recent rebel attacks and claimed the abduction of General Ruben Dario Alzate could serve as a model for national reconciliation in an open letter to the released general.
Writing “from the mountains of Colombia”, the guerrilla leader pointed to the FARC’s ability to continue attacks on the security services, mentioning the capture of two soldiers in Arauca on 9 November, the general’s capture on 16 November, and the attack on the Pacific island of Gorgona on 22 November.
The raid on Gorgona targeted a police post tasked with protecting wildlife and eco-tourists visiting the nature reserve. Timochenko claimed that the “audacious” attack claimed the lives of four policemen in addition to police lieutenant John Alvaro Suarez, 24.
These attacks were only those which made the news, added the guerrilla leader, claiming that many more occur throughout the country.
The ability of the FARC to conceal the captured general for 14 days while the army combed the area looking for him also proved the continued military strength of the guerrillas, he wrote.
“It is said that senator [Alvaro] Uribe can move with freedom thanks to more than 300 members of the state security forces working around the clock to protect him. This is an exact x-ray of your democratic security. Something very serious must be happening in a country where one only feels safe when one is surrounded by dozens of heavily armed escorts,” said the FARC boss.
But Timochenko also had a more peaceful message for the general, writing that Alzate had spoken at length with several fighters and commanders of the FARC.
“I am sure that the theme of peace and the Havana talks were part of these exchanges,” he wrote.
“By what our boys say in this regard, you were found to be neither intolerant nor rude, but someone with whom one could talk. A general of the Republic with its values of bravery sitting face to face, in the middle of the harsh rainy season weather of the Choco jungle, perhaps foreshadowing what could be a scene of reconciliation in Colombia,” according to Timochenko.
The rebel leader condemned the “hasty” decision of the president to suspend peace negotiations following Alzate’s capture, but said his “arrest also provided space for other possibilities”, claiming that Santos secretly “sent one of his own to suggest other possibilities. It is clear that a general is not equal to soldiers.”
After a lengthy justification of the FARC’s actions over the last 50 years, Timochenko wrote that the guerrillas “are engaged in reconstruction and national reconciliation … We were forced to make war, so we are ready to end it if a free and open debate of ideas, without hatred or persecution is guaranteed in our country.” The FARC raises most of its funds through drug-trafficking, and is responsible for most of the landmines in Colombia.
The government’s negotiating team is currently discussing a return to peace talks with the guerrillas’ negotiating team in Havana.
Peace talks with the FARC have been held in Havana, Cuba, without the presence of Timochenko who has been leading the guerrillas’ military machine while his delegates negotiate an end of the conflict.
While the FARC has publicly pushed a ceasefire on several occasions, the warring parties have failed to agree on a ceasefire for the duration of the talks that began in November 2012.