Prominent FARC spokesman Rodrigo Granda insisted he is “supremely optimistic” about reaching a peace deal with the Colombian government.
In an interview with the BBC, the senior rebel spokesperson, who is also known as the FARC’s “foreign minister”, assured that the guerrilla movement is “ready to discuss anything, no topic is off-limits.”
The FARC is allegedly eager to end the bloodshed that has wreaked havoc in Colombia for 48 years, however Granda believes this does not mean the rebels have been defeated militarily and are not in a defensive position. “We are strong militarily and politically (…) it is not that we have weakened (…) though we have been dealt some blows,” he said.
Less than a month before talks formally commence in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on October 8, the FARC representative was keen to emphasize the fault of the government. “We did not provoke this war, we are its victims. The state is to blame for everything that happened in this period,” Granda said.
Granda downplayed the FARC’s extensive kidnapping record and claimed they no longer hold people for ransom. “We do not call it kidnapping, we call it economic detention,” he said.
When asked if the FARC would ever entirely lay down their arms or agree to face jail time for their crimes, Granda avoided the question and pointed out that negotiations are still in their early stages.
These are the first major peace talks between the government and FARC since negotiations ended in disaster in 2002. The failed peace process tarnished the legacy of then-president Andres Pastrana and paved the way for the hard-line policies of Alvaro Uribe.