Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says that the best way for Brazil to work for peace in Colombia is to recognize the FARC as a terrorist group.
The country’s 50-year conflict “is an internal problem for Colombia. Brazil can help by putting the FARC in its rightful place, that is [labeling] them as a terrorist group,” Santos said in a interview with Brazilian publication Folha de Sao Paulo Thursday.
“The only way that we can open up some kind of dialogue with [the FARC] is if they give up their terrorist actions … If not just Brazil but the whole world understands that, [the FARC] will be increasingly isolated,” Santos added.
The Colombian president, who chose Brazil as the destination for his first official visit since taking office on August 7, said that one of his objectives during his time in Brazil is to ask his Brazilian counterpart Lula da Silva to reject the possibility of the FARC presenting its position before any regional forum.
“I don’t think UNASUR is an appropriate forum to listen to terrorist groups,” Santos said, referring to the FARC’s request to present its case before the regional body. the proposal was rejected by UNASUR, Colombia and Brazil as well.
Brazil has been reluctant to publicly condemn the FARC as a terrorist group, at least in part due to the role it has played as mediator between the guerrilla and the Colombian state in the past, particularly in hostage releases.
However following a meeting with Santos Wednesday, Lula commented that “nothing justifies terrorism as an instrument of political struggle,” and stressed Brazil’s “solidarity with the Colombian people in their fight for peace and against violence.”
In the interview with Folha de Sao Paulo, Santos also said that while he appreciated Lula’s willingness to mediate the diplomatic crisis that unfolded between Colombia and Venezuela in July, he doesn’t like that Lula is “directly handling” the situation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Santos said that ruptured relations with Venezuela need to be repaired little by little, on the basis of mutual trust.
During Santos’ two day visit to Brazil, he has signed eight cooperation agreements with Lula, and met with Brazilian presidential candidates, and will meet with Brazilian businessmen to promote Brazilian investment in Colombia in Sao Paulo Thursday.