Colombia’s defense minister on Monday said that the army will continue military operations against the FARC despite a unilateral ceasefire called by the rebel group.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said in a brief statement that it is the security forces’ constitutional duty to persecute those wanted by justice.
“The security forces have the constitutional obligation to pursue all those criminals who have violated the constitution, the law, those who have attacked the sanctity of life and citizens of Colombia,” Pinzon said.
“It is because of this that the FARC terrorists will be persecuted for crimes committed during all those years,” Pinzon added. “They are persecuted for all those barbaric acts , all those crimes that they have committed until a few days ago,” he added.
The defense minister seemed skeptical about the FARC’s intentions for a ceasefire. “The truth is that history shows this terrorist organization never keeps its word. Because of this it is difficult to believe they will stop killing children, stop carrying out attacks against the civilian population like we have seen over the past few weeks.”
The FARC called a unilateral ceasefire minutes before entering peace talks with government representatives in a convention center in the Cuban capital of Havana. According to FARC delegation leader “Ivan Marquez,” the ceasefire will last from Tuesday until January 20.
The rebel ceasefire is the first since the 1980s and was welcomed by Colombia’s Congress.
The FARC and the government on Monday began a formal round of talks aimed at ending the country’s 48-year-old armed conflict between Marxist rebels and the state that has killed hundreds of thousands of Colombians.