The top leader of Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, said Friday that the Colombian government is “obstructing” and “hurting” the ongoing peace process.
“We thought Santos was sincere [when he said] he dreamed about entering history as the president who brought peace to Colombia…he gave so many signs of wanting to achieve it, [but] his words in San Vicente del Caguan have left us perplexed,” said the FARC’s top commander, “Timochenko.”
The statement came a day after Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos issued land grants to 342 families for areas in the southern Caqueta department — land that used to be held by guerrillas.
BACKGROUND: Santos grants former FARC land to 342 families
“We are taking back from the FARC a terrain illegally obtained and [we are passing] it on to the peasants so the land can now be productive,” said Santos.
Timochenko did not disagree with the content of what Santos said per se, but rather the president’s tone. “We are criticizing the government’s attitude,” as the FARC commander put it.
Timochenko proposed that a high-level commission made up of FARC members and government officials work together to identify who was orignally responsible for displacing Colombian citizens and subsequently seizing the land.
“This [notion] that we in the FARC have robbed I don’t know how many hectares from I don’t know how many peasants, as well as all all this nagging about us being obliged to face the victims of the conflict, as if we had ever [mentioned] our negativity towards doing so, we can solve [all of this] in a simple and practical manner. We form a high-level commission , comprised of delegates of the FARC and the national government, with the participation of…various social organizations, with the necessary guarantees, so that in Colombia, in conditions of security, [we can engage] in visiting and veryfying the real situation of the [land] they say we have stolen.”
According to figures from the government’s Land Restitution Unit, 37% of the all displacements are attributed to the guerrillas. This information, however, is only based on the testimonies of the 32,688 people who applied for the government’s land restitution program. According to the United Nations refugee center, over 3.8 million Colombians have been forcibly displaced due to armed conflicts.
FACT SHEET: Colombia displacement statistics
The Colombian government on Friday said that FARC were the ones who were “obstructing” the peace process.