In an interview with Spanish press agency Efe, Santos explained that “with this medium-term plan you can achieve in making the FARC, the ELN and the drug trade minimal factors of violence, similar to what the ETA is in Spain, a minimal distortion factor produced by a small group of terrorists.”
The vice-President’s cousin and Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos announced the new strategy Tuesday, specifying that the armed forces jointly will attack the FARC in zones where they have strong military presence.
The army will regroup and will pressure the FARC militarily with an increase of troops to weaken rebel strongholds. “We will combine this with intelligence work to identify and hit the high value targets that are there,” the Defense Minister added.
According the vice-President it’s a coincidence that the presentation of Operation Strategic Leap comes only two days after the FARC’s proposal to negotiate the liberation of hostages in exchange for imprisoned guerrillas.
“This is a policy that has been made in the past year and a half, not from one day to another. It’s just a coincidence and has nothing to do with the FARC’s announcement,” Santos said.
The vice-President added that that the new FARC proposal for talks will not make the government rethink it’s strategy to marginalize the rebels.
President Uribe, speaking at an anti-terrorism conference in Bogotá Tuesday, also showed little inclination to go soft on the FARC and to start negotiations. According to Uribe, the FARC “only speak the language of peace to cloud terrorism.”