FARC Rejects Prisoner Release Move by Uribe

Cross-posted from La Política Colombiana:

Via the BBC: Colombian rebels spurn jail deal

Colombia’s biggest rebel group insists it will not release any hostages even though the government has announced plans to free some 200 jailed rebels.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, said the gesture by President Alvaro Uribe was a “farce”.

A Farc statement said the government must first create a safe haven for talks – a move Mr Uribe has ruled out.

Of course, the problem is that the last time the Colombian government granted the FARC a safe haven for the purpose of negotiations (back in the administration of Andres Pastrana (1998-2002)) it didn’t lead to anything aside from a handful of symbolic meetings and a nice place to keep hostages. Indeed, it was the kidnapping of several prominent politicians, including then-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt (who was seeking a meeting with the FARC in the demilitarized zone) that lead to Pastrana sending in the military and ending the zone.

As such, the idea that the FARC is going to get another demilitarized zone strikes me as sheer fantasy–especially from the Uribe administration. Of course, they likely know this and may be making such demands simply so that they can try and blame the government on the lack of peace talks when, in fact, they are the ones who don’t want to talk.

I will say that the FARC may have a point when they say that Uribe has decided to engage in the prisoner release at this time to generate positive press in the face of the para-politics scandal:

The plan was merely an attempt by the president to divert attention from a scandal linking some of his political allies to illegal paramilitary groups, the statement said.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Michael says:

    Turn about is fair play, Uribe should agree to the safe haven talks, then arrest anyone that attends. Those people can then be used in a prisoner exchange.

  2. crazyman in NYC says:

    This is like how would you run an international city between two countries that are not really at peace with each other.

    One idea is that you have the border of the international location manned by people of the other country.

    So this would be an area between the FARC held lands and the government held lands. the borders between that area and the government held lands would be patrolled by the FARC and the lands between the FARC land and this would be patrolled by government forces.

    The idea is that the soldiers of both sides become hostages. not sure if this would work.