Santos Calls On Colombian Guerrillas to Lay Down Their Arms and Demobilize

By Dialogo
September 20, 2011

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos warned the FARC guerrilla group that it will not achieve any objectives by force of arms, and he repeated his call to the group’s members to renounce terrorism and demobilize.

“Demobilize, lay down your arms, renounce violence, renounce terrorism, and we’ll be ready and waiting to give you an opportunity in civilian life,” Santos indicated in a symbolic visit to the town of Planadas (in central Colombia), where the FARC was born 47 years ago.

Speaking to an audience of the inhabitants of the former redoubt of Colombia’s most significant rebel group, the president warned that “by force of arms, they’re going to achieve absolutely nothing, just as they haven’t achieved anything in 47 years.”

“We’re here where the FARC was born in order to tell them: on that path, the only thing you’re going to find is death or a jail,” Santos declared.

The Colombian president subsequently emphasized that Government forces are increasingly better prepared to confront the insurgents and recalled that “we’ve got almost 2,000 captured and nearly 500 (FARC members) as casualties.”

“In total, 4,500 FARC members have been neutralized in the last year,” Santos affirmed, including deserters in that figure, after noting that desperation has forced the guerrilla group’s members to recruit minors.

This desperation, he specified, “has forced them to recruit by force the children of many families, who have nothing but hatred for the FARC today, because they took away their children by force. That has no future,” he added.

The president spoke at a time in which the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), with around 8,000 men under arms according to official sources, is conducting a military offensive in various regions of the country.

According to the authorities, this offensive has the objective of demonstrating the group’s presence with a view to the regional elections that will be held in Colombia on October 30, when Colombians will elect departmental governors, mayors and municipal councilors, legislators, and local commissioners.