World Bulletin / News Desk
Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a guerrilla group, involved in peace talks with the Colombian government in Cuba, strongly rejected any claims that the discussions were in the final stretch after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ appointed a military advisor to the negotiating team.
As the 28th round of talks began Monday, addressing once again the issue of the victims of the armed conflict, concern has focused on the rebels’ demobilization and disarmament.
“High ranking officials are creating the sensation that with the visit of some of the victims of the armed conflict and with the presence of Gen. Javier Florez and a group of Colonels in Havana, they take it as given that we are ready to put down our weapons and demobilize,” said FARC’s chief negotiator Ivan Marquez in a press conference.
“In no way do the FARC accept that members of the military hierarchy be involved in a situation that is by definition political,” Marquez continued.
Marquez’ reaction was prompted after President Juan Manuel Santos appointed Gen. Florez to oversee “the transition from war to peace.”
In response, the guerrilla group responded in kind by declaring that it, too, would be studying the viability of creating a “guerrilla commando” to oversee a return to civilian life of their combatants.
“This unit will study the viability of our forces and their constitutional role and the dismantling of the guerrilla battalions,” said FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo in an interview with El Espectador newspaper.
The apparent drawback comes at a delicate time in the ongoing negotiations which began in November 2012 and hopes to bring a conclusion to five decades of conflict which, since 1958, according to Human Rights Watch, has caused the deaths of an estimated 220,000 people and displaced more than five million.
The discussion about the victims of the conflict, which now enters its second round, has been the cause of much debate. The first group of 12 victims arrived in Havana on Aug. 15 and the second group, chosen by academics from the National University and the United Nations, will travel to Cuba on Sept. 10.
The Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon immediately rebuffed FARC’s reaction.
“The guerrilla must understand that this process will end with the demobilization and laying down of weapons. The sooner they do this, the better. And, the less these people of the FARC speak, the more they will help the peace process and the country,” Pinzon told El Espectador.
Since the beginning of the talks, various topics have been addressed and pre-agreements have been reached on the issues of land ownership, political participation and illicit drugs.Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2014, 10:56