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FARC Says its “Willing” to Demilitarize

FARC Says its “Willing” to Demilitarize
Colombian FARC-EP Commander Ivan Marquez (center), head of delegation, delivers a speech at Convention Palace of Havana to participate in the peace talks with the Colombian government. AFP Archive Photo.

HAVANA, CUBA – At the conclusion of the 10th round of Colombian peace negotiations in Havana, a FARC spokesperson has reaffirmed the guerrilla group’s commitment to demilitarization.

The group, however, reiterated that while their objective is to put down their weapons, this does not necessarily mean they will hand them over to the Colombian government.
In an interview with Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, FARC negotiator “Pablo Catatumbo” said if the group can reach a peace accord, the FARC would be ready to give up the armed struggle. But, he added, “It’s a matter of principal for us to give up armed struggle but not to give up our fight.”
“Catatumbo” then pointed out that “Nelson Mandela never turned over a single weapon, nor did the IRA (of Ireland), the latter of which was able to reach a peace agreement with the British government through guarantees recognized by both sides.”
With this in mind he expressed the group's desire to discuss what to do with the weapons and to find a way to make sure that the weapons will be taken out of the theater of war.
On June 21, Colombia and FARC representatives ended their negotiations on political participation, the second agenda point of the peace talks. The first point, agrarian reform, was successfully adjourned on May 26.
Negotiations will begin again July 1 on the third point regarding a ceasefire and eventual end to hostilities. Future agenda points will include drug trafficking and illicit drug cultivation, compensation for victims of the conflict, and international verification of the accords of the peace agreement.
“When we lay down arms it has to happen on both sides. We must demilitarize the Colombian countryside,” said Catatumbo, alluding to the half-million troops deployed internally by the Colombian government. Yet Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has vowed to maintain a military presence “over every centimeter of the country.”
The FARC and the Colombian government began peace talks in November in an attempt to end the half-century-long internal conflict in a country that has seen a long history of violence. 
According to The FARC, their struggle is based on Colombia’s unequal distribution of wealth and land concentration, among other issues.
Former Colombian President, Álvaro Uribe, refused to negotiate with the group, referring to them as a terrorist organization. The FARC in fact is one of three Colombian armed groups on the United State’s List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including the ELN (“Army of National Liberation”) leftist guerrilla group and the now demobilized AUC (“Colombian Auto-defense”) paramilitary group as well. 
Publicado el 28 Junio 2013
Fuentes: Copyright NTN24