Timochenko, the supreme leader of the FARC guerrillas, said Wednesday the June deadline for the peace talks announced by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos is “an expectation he is generating on his own,” in an interview with communist newspaper Voz.
According to Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” it is “contrary to what was agreed in the letter and the spirit of the exploratory meetings.”
Santos last week imposed the time limit of June 2013 for advances to be made in the peace agreement that was recently signed and made official in Cuba, after which negotiations will be stopped if there are no concrete advances between the months of April and June.
Timochenko has cast doubt on the realism of this limitation though saying, “To get to Havana and have the exploratory meeting took us two years, when initially it was thought to be a matter of weeks.”
“There is no cut-off date agreed, so the statement of the president is difficult for us to take in this way,” said the commander of Colombia’s largest guerrilla group.
The guerrilla leader was however complementary of Santos’ approach to the peace talks and described him as an “heir of democratic security, and one of its star players.”
“The president wants to make sure not to repeat the mistakes of the past, and we hope so too,” said Timochenko referring to past attempts at peace which ended in disaster.
“You know that the biggest mistake of the previous processes has been to come to the table and demand surrenders without the will to solve the reasons that fuel the confrontation,” said the leader.
The commander of the FARC said that his organization has “always been willing to seek a solution other than war,” but that it “was not possible with Uribe because of his open disregard for our political condition.”
“It makes no sense to start the process aimed to arrive at a definitive end of the conflict without contemplating the laying-down of arms at some point,” said the guerrilla leader. The decommissioning of arms is one of the six points on the agenda which were agreed to in Cuba’s capital Havana in August, and will be brought to the peace talks starting next month in Oslo.
“Those who claim that military pressure was ultimately responsible for us coming to political negotiations forget that a decade of war erupted when Pastrana unilaterally ended the peace process in Caguan,” said Timochenko, referring to the disastrous attempt at peace when the FARC were granted a demilitarized zone the size of Switzerland which ended up being used to increase and strengthen their forces.
“It is absurd to say that we have been forced to sit at the table,” said the guerrilla leader, “It is the State who returns to the table of talks with the FARC.”
“Either way, the continuation of the conflict will involve more death and destruction, more grief and tears, more poverty and misery for some and greater wealth for others … so we seek dialogue, bloodless solution through political understanding,” said Timochenko, reaffirming the FARC’s commitment to successful peace talks. “Peace is a true laying down of arms.”