Santos Requests FARC Dialogue Be Realistic, Dismisses Ceasefire

By Dialogo
September 10, 2012

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos insisted that the peace negotiations that will begin in October with the communist guerrillas of the FARC be based on realistic facts, and dismissed a ceasefire until the process is completed.

The president rejected the FARC’s approach of ordering a ceasefire at the start of the talks on October 8 in Oslo, arguing, “that if they do it, they will require us to do it.”

“It is normal, but that is not feasible, not realistic. They can ask whatever they want, but then for us to accept it is a long stretch,” he pointed out.

The president made these remarks in several interviews and reiterated them after a meeting with at least 50 generals of the Army, Air Force and Navy admirals (Navy) at Fort Tolemaida (southwest of Bogotá), where they train special forces.

“It must be a serious roundtable, realistic and effective. If we hear proposals that are not realistic, then the process will not be effective,” Santos said.

He added that he asked the military, “to step up their actions. There will not be any type of ceasefire here, there will not be anything until we reach the final agreement, that is to be very clear,” he warned.

“Since it takes two to talk, if there is no progress, we will simply get up and everything will remain the same. We will not fall into the trap of delaying negotiations indefinitely. If there’s a will, I really think we can reach the agreement in months,” he added.

Santos also noted that the FARC and the government would be the only state representatives at the negotiating table, because “this is a direct negotiation, without intermediaries, without mediators”.

On the other hand, Santos recognized the statement from the spokesmen for the FARC, in Havana, that the group had stopped kidnapping.

“They have said they have not returned to kidnapping and have repeated it on many occasions. And the truth is that I have not had military intelligence information in the recent past of kidnappings by the FARC,” he noted.

The FARC’s statement on September 6 caused outrage among relatives of hostages, who assure their family members are held by the insurgent group, and in turn asked for a seat at the negotiating table.

Clara Rojas, director of the NGO País Libre, which assists families of the abducted, expressed her “dismay” at the statement.

“I am almost speechless. This is not an answer for all these families. I am confident that they will reconsider. It can be that their commanders are not telling them the whole truth,” pointed out Rojas, herself kidnapped in 2002 along with former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, and released in 2008.