Foreign interference in Colombia, specifically that of the United States, has been “dismal” ever since the country’s independence from Spain in the 19th century, rebel group FARC said Wednesday.
In an interview with Colombia Reports, guerrilla leader Ricardo Tellez and Dutch FARC rebel Tanja Nijmeijer said that “foreign intervention in Colombia has been dismal. From the time of the first independence struggles, the United States, England, France and Germany set their eyes and ambitions on our territory.”
The Dutch guerrilla, who assists the rebels’ peace negotiation team in Cuba, was particularly harsh about Washington’s historical role in Colombia.
According to Nijmeijer, independence leader Simon “Bolivar threatened the security of the United States, they needed to build the Panama Canal, Colombia could become a new Cuba, international communism had to be stopped and, more recently, Plan Colombia with its pretext of the war against drugs and the invention of ‘terrorist’ threats.”
If the US — the largest donor to Colombia in recent years — is willing to contribute to a political solution, Washington must change its foreign policies in order for that to be constructive for the South American country, said the rebel.
“A great contribution to peace in Colombia would be the immediate withdrawal of the bases and military personnel from the DEA, FBI and the CIA, who are acting with total impunity in Colombia,” said Nijmeijer, adding that the US should “cease military aid and advisory to the Colombian armed forces.”
“Non- interference, respect for our sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity; the return of Simon Trinidad and prisoners of the FARC, who are facing infamous and unjust sentences in the United States,” demanded Tellez.
In a recent visit to Colombia, US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the Obama administration’s support for the peace talks. However, according to Nijmeijer, “those words should be changed into real gestures of peace.”
While harsh about the US’ role in Colombia, the FARC rebel said to welcome foreign interference when it comes to the ongoing peace talks with the government.
“The FARC-EP recognize that solidarity support to our people and we would like those governments and organizations to play a more prominent role. The Colombian conflict was internationalized by the government, and now that same government is against a broader participation of the international community in the peace process. They should feel part of this process that brings peace to the continent and will undoubtedly contribute to world peace,” said Nijmeijer.
- Interview with Ricardo Tellez and Tanja Nijmeijer