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The Collective
Friday, August 3, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Uribe offers Colombia talks zone

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has offered to create a temporary safe haven for peace talks, if left-wing guerrillas free hundreds of hostages.

Mr Uribe said he would then also be willing to release rebel prisoners.

[...]

The Farc has not responded officially but a website which carries rebel statements rejected the proposal.

“There will definitively be no humanitarian exchange with Uribe,” a statement on the Anncol website began.

The FARC would prefer a demilitarized zone in the southwest of Colombia. However, after the disaster that was the Pastrana administration’s (1998-2002) attempt at such a zone, I can’t imagine any Colombian president ceding such a space again anytime soon, and certainly not Alvaro Uribe.

I also have a hard time seeing the FARC negotiating with the Uribe administration given that the FARC consider Uribe linked directly to paramilitary groups. This is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that the last major peace accord (not the last set of talks, but the last major agreement) between the FARC and the government, back during the Betancur administration (1982-1986) led to the creation of a political party, the Patriotic Union (UP). Over the course of less than two decades, right-wing paramilitary groups (linked directly to the AUC that is in talks with the government to demobilize) assassinated upwards of 4,000 members of the UP, in what has been accurately terms a “political genocide.”

As such, given that the Uribe administration has been negotiating with the AUC (and because there have been credible accusations that Uribe worked with paramilitary groups when he was governor of the department of Antioquia in the 1990s), I have a very hard time seeing the FARC being willing to talk to Uribe. Given that there are also serious problems with the AUC’s demobilization (i.e., not all of those demobilized appear to be remaing demobilized), then one would think that distrust would be high.

Just to add another wrinkle to the story, Uribe’s father was killed by the FARC during a kidnapping attempt.

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