Friday, September 12, 2014

Colombia: President Santos Rebuts FARC Victims' Demands for Immediate Cease-Fire

According to The Latin American TribuneColombian President Juan Manuel Santos has told victims of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) of the country’s 50-year-old armed conflict that there would be no bilateral cease-fire in the peace negotiations  in Havana as requested, because the guerrillas would take advantage of the situation to strengthen their political and military strategies.

“Experiences with FARC in previous attempts had shown us that they are experts in taking advantage of cease-fires,” Santos said Thursday “(And) that was not so convenient.”

In Havana, where peace negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC are taking place, a group of conflict victims demanded earlier this week that the two sides agree to an “urgent bilateral ceasefire.”

They argued that a truce would ensure that the discussions could be carried out in a non-hostile environment and insisted on speeding up the peace process so more people would not be killed or injured in the conflict.

COMMENT: In the nearly two years since peace talks with the FARC began in Havana, it is estimated that that perhaps as many as four-to-five-hundred lives have ended unnecessarily at the very least.

I will respectfully defer to President Santos, although most reasonable people would conclude that even the loss of one life unnecessarily is too much.

Santos reinforced his argument saying that he does not want to go down in history “as another president who tried a peace process, failed and left the FARC in a better situation and the Colombian state in a worse situation.”

The president also said that the cease-fire would be a “perverse incentive” to prolong negotiations indefinitely and that the FARC could be “in the best of all worlds” because they would be talking without any military pressure.

That’s why there is no cease-fire. This is why from the beginning we said there will be no cease-fire,” Santos added.