Santos Rejects Proposals of Dialogue with Guerrilla Groups

By Dialogo
February 01, 2012

On January 30, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos again rejected the proposals to collaborate in favor of peace talks with the country’s guerrilla groups that he has received from within Colombia and abroad, because they may be “counterproductive.”

“Initiatives of all kinds have been presented, they send arguments, prominent national figures, international ones, they want to make a proposal, they want to create a group, they want to intervene,” Santos stated, without mentioning names, at an event in the department of Antioquia (in northwestern Colombia).

The president said that his denial is the same one he communicated to several Latin American presidents who offered their collaboration during the founding summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in Caracas, in December 2011.

“The best thing at this point would be for them to stand by, to not meddle, to wait and see how we’ll move forward if tomorrow brings with it the appropriate circumstances, as we’ve said so many times,” Santos said.

The National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, had asked the new Celac to hold conversations that could enable a peaceful solution to the armed conflict that has lasted almost half a century.

Santos added on January 30 that it would be “inconvenient” to begin to create working groups and make public proposals for peace, “because it generates a negative and counterproductive atmosphere.”

Since taking office in 2010, Santos has left the door open to dialogue with the ELN and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla groups, on the condition that they demonstrate their readiness for peace through actions such as renouncing kidnapping, the recruitment of minors, and attacks.