Colombia’s new Santos administration rejected any offers to mediate between the government and guerrilla groups such as the FARC or ELN, saying “Thanks, but no.”
According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “all it does is move away from the goal, away from any possibility of dialogue rather than peace.”
“Many have wanted to offer intermediaries, many have wanted to suggest that they could do a job here or there, but the answer to all is: Thanks, but no. Neither abroad nor here in Colombia,” Santos said during a military ceremony in the Cauca city of Popayan.
Santos added that “the government itself will take forward the issue when it considers that conditions are ripe, because now there is no evidence of real will for peace.”
Last week Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said the government would not recognize unauthorized peace talks with the guerrillas
Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has previously been involved in mediating with guerrillas and securing the release of hostages, said last week that she intended to present a peace proposal to the South American regional group UNASUR that would include guerrilla groups, the FARC and the ELN, and demobilized paramilitary group the AUC.
Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera responded by stating that the government would not recognize peace talks or plans with guerrillas that have not been authorized through official channels.
“We want to clearly express that all non-consulted, uncoordinated, spontaneous initiatives by different political agents in Colombia and outside push further away any possibility of using such a path to achieve peace in Colombia,” Rivera said.
Cordoba reacted to the Rivera’s remarks by saying that she had no intention of conducting peace negotiations with guerrillas that could affect the Colombian government’s efforts to settle the nation’s ongoing conflict.
Despite the government’s rejection of her plans, Cordoba said last week that she would meet with Colombians for Peace, an organization she heads, to develop a final document with a series of proposals which seek to engage the guerrillas in dialogue, which will be submitted to the new Santos administration for consideration.
Cordoba travelled to Havana, Cuba on Thursday to discuss her plans for peace and the threat of possible war in South America with Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Following the meeting Castro commented that “unity with the Colombian people is a factor of great importance in the fight to avoid the collapse of humanity in a nuclear explosion.”
As well as discussing peace and regional issues with the Cuban leader, Cordoba also presented Castro, who celebrates his 84th birthday on Friday, with several books on history and current affairs in Colombia. In return the senator received an autographed copy of Castro’s book “The Strategic Victory.”