Colombia’s Santos says FARC faces jail, death without peace
BOGOTA - Reuters
Santos said the FARC has little choice but to turn in their weapons and end a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people since it began 50 years ago. REUTERS photoColombia’s FARC militant leaders negotiating peace with the government must return to the jungle and end their days on the battlefield or in prison if talks under way in Cuba collapse, President Juan Manuel Santos said Aug. 8.
Santos, who bet his political legacy on bringing peace to the Andean nation, said the FARC has little choice but to turn in their weapons and end a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people since it began five decades ago.
“They would have to return to Colombia and face the destiny of all other FARC leaders who ended up in the grave or in prison,” Santos told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace, when asked what would happen if the talks failed.
Leaders who remain on battlefield to be tracked
More than three dozen FARC commanders are in Havana working through a five-point agenda that would let the two sides declare peace.
Santos said FARC leaders who remain on the battlefield such as Rodrigo Londono, known by his war alias Timochenko, would be tracked down and captured or killed. In his final year of a four-year term, the center-right Santos said he is not concerned the Marxist militants’ inclusion in the political system would shift the tone in Colombia toward the extreme left, calling their Communist rhetoric out of touch with a modern society. On the contrary, he said, their involvement would strengthen the country’s democracy.
Criticism to discourse
“The FARC, with its antiquated Communist discourse from the 1960s, will not go anywhere. It’s a discourse that is totally obsolete,” said the president.
“If it modernizes, if it realizes that the concept it has of how a state functions in today’s world has no validity, that it has been a failure, if it changes the discourse, then it could have an option,” said Santos about the FARC’s political hopes.
While Santos argues that it is unrealistic to attempt to investigate and punish all violations and war crimes during the conflict, he remains adamant there would be no impunity.
“They will go to jail or be punished. They will be tried. There will be no reprieve, there will be no amnesty,” he said.
The FARC, which has battled a dozen governments, took up arms in 1964 as a Marxist group struggling against inequality, but later turned to kidnapping and drug-trafficking to finance itself. Colombia is a leading producer of cocaine.