The FARC‘s supreme commander, “Timochenko” has said his group open to dialogue with southwest Colombian indigenous communities, who had accused the guerrillas of wanting to provoke a “genocide of the indigenous.”
Timoleon Jimenez, alias “Timochenko”, made the statement in response to a letter from the indigenous communities of the southwestern department of Cauca, demanding clarification of the rebel group’s intentions towards the indigenous people, specifically referring to an alleged FARC agenda to assassinate indigenous community leaders and representatives in the Cauca region.
The ACIN, an indigenous organization from the war-torn Cauca department, had written the FARC that they “wonder and would like to know whether the FARC considers the idea of indigenous peoples’ autonomy, the right to rule on our own territories, a military threat.”
Timochenko sought to clarify the FARC’s position in an open letter delivered to the indigenous on Monday, expressing the rebels’ desire to “reach understandings that will allow us satisfactorily to advance towards our mutual goals of peace and social justice.”
The rebel leader emphasized the importance of “the old and profound links of respect and solidarity” that he claims the FARC feels towards indigenous communities and rejected the suggestion of FARC hostility and confrontation which the indigenous had made in their letter of April 29.
“Speaking honestly, politically and in a human sense we can assure you that any such consideration is totally wrong, has nothing to do with the reality and seems to be a product of a poisoning from interested third parties” read the FARC’s letter.
Timochenko added that if the indigenous have any specific complaint or issue with “any fighter or activist” that they should report it to the rebel group.
“We are fully willing to receive and transmit [the complaints], applying the appropriate punishments in accordance with our disciplinary statutes and regulations” he said.
The indigenous groups in the Cauca department have long been victim of the conflict between the FARC and the Colombian state which over the years have intensified in Cauca because of the department’s strategic location for drug trafficking.
Indigenous territories in Cauca
- Nueva carta a indígenas del Cauca (FARC-EP)
- La respuesta de ‘Timochenko’ a los indígenas del norte del Cauca (El Espectador)
- “Estamos en contra de la guerra en todas sus dimensiones”. Carta abierta de la ACIN a Timochenko (Red de Iniciativas y Comunidades de Paz desde la Base)