Colombian president rejects FARC terms for peace talks
The Americas Post - Colombian troops disembarking on the Caguan River are not there to talk
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday rejected the possibility of reopening peace talks with that country’s FARC leftist rebels, until the group takes concrete steps towards ending 50 years of combat.
His reaction came one day after FARC leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño suggested terms for resuming negotiations, which were frozen a decade ago. Those proposed topics included privatization, environmental protection, the free market and military doctrine.
“We don’t want more rhetoric; the nation asks for clear peaceful deeds”, Santos tweeted in response.
The oldest active guerrilla group in Latin America has been weakened in recent years by a US backed military offensive that has taken the lives of several FARC commanders and caused thousands of rebel desertions. Although they have retreated to the mountains and jungles, FARC fighters are still capable of staging effective attacks, including against Colombia’s oil-producing infrastructure.
Santos has demanded that the guerrillas free hostages, suspend attacks and lay down their arms. FARC leaders have rejected those conditions but left open the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
Failed peace negotiations between 1999 and 2002 took place in the Caguan region, a demilitarized zone measuring twice the size of El Salvador. During those talks the rebels did not cease combat operations, and the Colombian armed forces accused them of using the area as a base for attacks, arms trafficking and drug smuggling. For many Colombians, the zone proved the FARC’s unwillingness to put an end to the long war that has cost the country so much blood and money.
“You can forget about a new Caguan”, Santos said.