Responding to a FARC statement announcing the rebels “would be interested in a hypothetical negotiating table”, Santos wrote on his Twitter account, “We don’t want more rhetoric, the country asked for clear actions of peace.”
The FARC’s new leader, Timoleon Jimenez, alias “Timochenko,” urged Santos Monday to revive the agenda of the failed 1999-2002 peace talks which took place in the demilitarized zone of El Caguan. Santos was finance minister at the time and promoted the negotiations.
The president firmly rejected this overture Tuesday, telling the guerrillas they could “forget about another Caguan.”
The Colombian Congress also made their feelings clear, telling FARC it had an “obligation, demanded by hundreds of thousands of Colombians, to free all the hostages.”
Senator Roy Barreras, the president of the Senate’s Peace Commission, said, “While they have hostages in their power there is no way to even think of solutions to the conflict other than military and political pressure.”
The FARC prososals should be welcomed, but were unrealistic, according to experts in conflict resolution.
Daniel Garcia-Pena, who was High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia during the administration of President Ernesto Samper (1994-1998), told Spanish news agency Efe that the rebels’ request to talk to the government was “positive.”
But the proposals to reignite the El Caguan agenda were unrealistic, he said, noting the FARC seemed unaware of the changes that had occurred over the last ten years, specifically “the loss of support and political legitimacy” that their actions had brought about.
The High Commissioner for Peace under the Pastrana government (1999-2002), Camilo Gomez, who led the El Caguan talks, noted that they took place under the terms of a ceasefire and suspension of kidnappings. He said, “To restart this dialogue, a suspension of kidnappings and violent activities would be necessary and obligatory,” adding that he found this latest proposal “curious.”
Garcia-Pena disagreed, arguing it had to be understood that the FARC and the Colombian government were in a state of “prenegotiation.” It was natural, he said, that both parties would “put their cards on the table in an extreme way.”