Colombian President Álvaro Uribe continues to reject an exchange of
some 20 members of the security forces for 500 imprisoned FARC rebels,
despite the guerrillas dropping their demand for a demilitarized zone,
which had always been the main government’s obstacle.
Uribe, speaking at the “Contemporary anti-terrorism; the Colombian experience” conference, said the FARC will have to end all criminal activities, before the Government will agree to sit down with them.
“We believe in peace, but we won’t allow new tricks,” French press agency AFP quoted the President saying.
The FARC recently appointed three prominent guerrilla leaders to hold the negotiations with the government, demanding only security guarantees for the negotiators and explicitly dropping their demand for a demilitarized zone.
The Government always rejected this demilitarized zone, because according to the Government, the FARC would use it for strategic purposes, only to continue the war after having had the time to regroup.
Bogotá at the moment seems to have no interest in talks with the rebels whatsoever. According to Uribe, the FARC “only speak the language of peace to cloud terrorism.”
A year after their founder Manuel Marulanda’s death, the FARC have been trying to show they have not yet been defeated and killed more than ten members of the Colombian security forces in combat, while at the same time seriously disrupting transport on important highways in the south of Colombia.
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos announced earlier Tuesday the army would begin a new offensive against the leftist rebels. “The
beast is wounded and we have to keep the initiative to give it the
final blow, to take it to a point of no return,” Santos said.