Colombian Conflict with the FARC Will End in Negotiation, Military Says
By Dialogo March 21, 2011
The commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, Adm. Edgar Cely, predicted on 17 March that the conflict with the FARC communist guerrilla group will end in negotiation, since “it’s not a matter of killing or wounding all” the group’s members.
“I believe that this is going to end in or is going to lead into a dialogue, because we ourselves are also finally convinced that it’s not a matter of killing or wounding all the members of the FARC in combat,” Cely specified in a conversation with foreign journalists.
The commander put forward this view after declaring that the military’s emphasis should be on fighting drug trafficking “which is where the FARC get their nourishment.”
That and “supremely strong military and police pressure and pressure from the government should bring them to a point of no return,” he added.
The FARC, Colombia’s chief guerrilla group with forty-six years of armed struggle, currently has around eight thousand fighters, according to government estimates.
President Juan Manuel Santos has reiterated several times that his administration has not closed the door to dialogue with the leftist guerillas, but that in order for this possibility to be considered, they must first cease kidnapping, attacks, and the recruitment of minors.
In his statements, Cely affirmed that the blows struck against the FARC in recent months, including the death in a bombardment of their top military commander Jorge Briceño (alias Mono Jojoy) on 22 September, “have put them back several years.”
“After Mono Jojoy’s death, they were out of leaders from the armed perspective. That man was the backbone behind the terrorist attacks, the one who tried to bring FARC actions back to urban areas, the one who held onto power out of the barrel of a gun and who had all the resources,” he said.
He also added that the rebel group’s leaders killed in combat can be replaced, “but that weakens them.”
Nevertheless, the commander revealed that so far this year, 52 of his men have died in combat, and 92 have been wounded. Of those, 13 of the dead and 81 of the wounded were victims of anti-personnel mines.
In 2010, Cely recalled, 101 members of the Armed Forces died as a result of explosive devices, and 417 were wounded.