FARC Rejects Prisoner Release Move by Uribe
Cross-posted from La PolÃtica 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.