ANALYSIS – FARC Leader’s Death Could Speed Peace Talks in Colombia
By Dialogo September 27, 2010This democracy that the world and its political parties have, is something that any group of people without morals has, they assist and nurture this type of sickness found in all societies. The gangs and the misery Colombia has is not new, and the politicians offer this in their political platform but then they do nothing. I want and support democracy, because it allows us to go on â€œliving in liberty" with the citizens who live with politicians who are mentally ill not only in Colombia, Mexico, U.S.A, and from there on down to the east and west of Patagonia, I donâ€™t know what needs to happen, I donâ€™t have the one true answer but since I reached the age of reason during my 71 years, I donâ€™t see the way nor will I see a change, thank you for allowing me to make this statement.
The death of the Colombian FARC guerrilla group’s military commander during Operation Sodom was a blow to the heart of the rebel group that could accelerate its decline and force its leaders to negotiate for peace with the government.
Jorge Briceño Suárez, better known as “El Mono Jojoy,” fell fighting soldiers following a bombardment of his camp that began early in the morning on 22 September, in a jungle area near the municipality of La Macarena, in southeastern Colombia.
While combat was underway, on the same day, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced in a statement their willingness to negotiate for peace with President Juan Manuel Santos, but without submitting to any conditions.
However, the president, a former defense minister in the previous administration, which maintained a hard line against the guerrilla group with the support of the United States, is demanding a suspension of hostilities before sitting down to the table.
Now, the death of the veteran Briceño Suárez, a fifty-nine-year-old guerrilla fighter, could increase the pressure on the rebel group, which is experiencing the worst crisis in its history, according to specialists.
“For this organization, El Mono Jojoy was the equivalent of the commandant of the Army,” said former peace commissioner Víctor G. Ricardo. “It’s a blow to their military strategy; it’s a blow to the organization’s morale,” he added.
A decade ago, Ricardo was one of the participants in the negotiations launched in 1999 by then-president Andrés Pastrana, when the rebel group was much more powerful. The talks collapsed in 2002.
With the recent death of the guerrilla leader, considered a hardliner within the FARC, a light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to become visible.
“With that military strength having been diminished, dialogue has to be near,” said Guillermo González, a former defense minister and current governor of the department of El Cauca.
A SINGLE PATH
Santos made peace negotiations with the rebels conditional on their releasing those they have kidnapped, suspending attacks, and announcing their readiness to lay down their arms.
“Unacceptable, arrogant, and triumphalist” was the rebel group’s characterization of Santos’s demands.
Meanwhile, the president promised to maintain the offensive against the FARC begun by his predecessor Alvaro Uribe.
For former president Pastrana, the message that the administration has sent to the FARC’s commander-in-chief, Alfonso Cano, is that he could suffer the same fate as “El Mono Jojoy” and that the rebels should understand that the only path is that of peace.
“They (the FARC) have no possibility of recovering their military strength; it’s an absolutely irreversible process of decline in both the political and the military spheres,” analyst Alfredo Rangel said for his part.
“It’s to be expected that the psychological impact and the demoralization caused by this blow will lead dozens or hundreds of members of the guerrilla group to desert,” he explained.
Despite everything, the guerrilla group still has the ability to cause headaches for Santos with high-impact attacks in jungle regions and even in urban centers.
In fact, in recent weeks the FARC launched attacks in which more than thirty soldiers and police personnel died, leading the armed forces to redouble their offensive.
“The deaths of police and military personnel, the deaths of guerrillas, the dramas that the inhabitants of the countryside experience in the midst of armed operations should lead us to construct a space for dialogue,” said Sen. Piedad Córdoba of the Liberal Party.
Thousands of combatants have abandoned the ranks of the FARC since Uribe began military operations, reducing the rebel forces to 8,000 men from the 17,000 they once had, according to calculations by security sources.