Photo: COLOMBIA: FARC Rebels Doubt Pres. Santos' Commitment to Peace
FARC rebels on Friday slammed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for remarks made during this week’s handover to peasants of land allegedly seized from them by the guerrillas, questioning his commitment to achieving peace.
“We thought Santos was sincere in saying he dreamed of going down in history as the president who achieved peace ... His behavior and words in San Vicente del Caguan have left us perplexed,” the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has fought a decades-old revolution against a succession of Colombian governments, said in a statement.
The message was read in Havana, where the FARC and the Colombian government have been holding peace talks since November.
It focused on comments Santos made during a land-restitution ceremony Wednesday in the remote southern town of San Vicente del Caguan, where peasants were given back properties purportedly seized from them by late FARC chief strategist Mono Jojoy.
Santos devoted his speech to “insulting” the FARC and its “most beloved commanders,” without ever referring to the ongoing peace talks, the message said.
“Not once did he mention what he has regarded as a main banner of his government ... Is that the way to create an environment conducive to the process and to dialogue? Is that how the national government does its part for reconciliation, Santos?” according to the statement read to the media by guerrilla negotiator Andres Paris.
The FARC said that though “important progress” has been made during the talks in Cuba, “official attitudes” such as those expressed by Santos “threaten to sink (the process) in a morass.”
The guerrillas issued the statement upon their arrival Friday at the Palace of Conventions in Havana, where the peace talks are continuing with government negotiators.