The commander in chief of Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, criticized the government for suspending peace talks. “Timochenko” warned President Juan Manuel Santos that the next suspension might mean the end of the talks.
FACT SHEET: Peace talks
In a statement published on one of the FARC’s websites, the top commander of the rebel group said that Santos ruined the group’s confidence in the talks after suspending the negotiations to demand the immediate release of an army general who had been captured by guerrillas after entering FARC territory without the usual security measures.
Santos suspended the negotiations little over a week ago, disallowing his negotiators to continue the talks in Cuba until after the release of the general and four others who had been captured by the rebels in two different operations over the past month.
“The president always bragged with the Israeli slogan of talking as if there were no war and making war as if there were no dialogues … He always claimed that the ground rules were that nothing that happens in the battlefields would affect the course of the talks. He even imposed that the talks in Havana would go uninterrupted,” said Timochenko.
According to the FARC leader, Santos “knocked the board on which we were playing the game, he destroyed the confidence” when he suspended the talks.
“Things can not be resumed like this again,” said Timochenko, warning that in the event of a second unilateral suspension “we will have to make several considerations” to not end the talks.
The FARC leader’s warning contradicts his own group’s delegation in Havana. The rebel delegates told press on Sunday that “we will not leave the negotiating table until we achieve a political and social agreement with the Colombian government that produces a durable peace with social justice.”
While Santos has consistently rejected the possibility for a bilateral ceasefire before a peace agreement is signed, the FARC has increasingly pushed for a cessation of violence.
Recent guerrilla attacks on civilian targets spurred international criticism and have provided the conservative opposition with more arguments to demand a renegotiation of conditions for the FARC to hold talks.
The warring parties have been talking since 2012. While three of the six points on the table have been agreed by both parties, the fourth point, victims, has proven to be a loaded issue as neither party seems keen to admit responsibility for the millions of victims left by the conflict.
If the peace talks are successful they will end 50 years of violence between the leftist rebel group and the state.
- Seamos serios, Santos (FARC-EP)