FARC Seeks to Influence 2010 Elections, Colombian Defense Minister Warns

By Dialogo
February 11, 2009

FARC guerrillas seek to influence the 2010 presidential election by releasing hostages ‎‎“a few at a time,” Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos warned today.‎ ‎“Releasing hostages at a slow rate as political actions, they want to put themselves in ‎a position” to be “able to affect the upcoming elections (...) as they have done in past ‎elections,” Santos told Army officers and NCOs in a conference.‎ Santos stressed that, as in other occasions, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of ‎Colombia (FARC) reasoned as follows: “I decide whom I make peace with, the ‎people vote for that person, and we return to the same pattern of deceit. As President ‎Álvaro Uribe says, ‘you can’t neuter a dog twice.’”‎ The Minister made these statements days after the FARC handed over six hostages to ‎a humanitarian mission: Alan Jará, the former Governor of Meta; Sigifredo López, the ‎former Deputy of the Department Assembly of Valle del Cauca; three police officers; ‎and one soldier.‎ The hostages were handed over to the opposition Senator Piedad Córdoba as a gesture ‎toward the group of politicians, academics, artists, and intellectuals collectively ‎known as Colombians for the Peace (CCP).‎ Santos also reported today that a regular FARC tactic has been to perpetrate terrorist ‎acts in order to create a sense of insecurity among the population.‎ ‎“With one hand they free hostages, with another they throw bombs; they want to tell ‎the population that the FARC is alive (…) to create in the Colombian mind a need to ‎negotiate for peace,” said the minister.‎ The FARC issued two press releases yesterday in which America’s oldest guerrilla ‎organization announced that it will only free the 22 police officers and soldiers kept ‎under their control if 500 of their rebels are released.‎ The Colombian government responded today by demanding that the FARC ‎completely cease all terrorist acts as a first step toward launching a peace process that ‎will later include handing over weapons and an eventual dialogue, as happened in ‎Northern Ireland.‎