FARC Name Captives to be Released
News from Colombia |
on: Thursday, 26 January 2012
The FARC guerrillas, in response to the recent letter from Colombians for Peace, have released the names of 6 prisoners that they will release. The six, Jorge Trujillo Solarte, Jorge Romero, Jose Librado Forero, Luis Beltran, Cesar Lasso and Carlos Duarte will be released unilaterally once security protocols have been confirmed. According to FARC secretariat member Ivan Marquez, they are also waiting for an international commission to be established which will look into the conditions of Colombian political prisoners and guerrilla prisoners being held in Colombian government jails.
The FARC report that one of their prisoners, Franquin Morales, recently died in a Colombian prison, and the guerrillas are determined to “make our [people] visible.” Conditions in Colombian jails are notorious. During 2011 dozens of prisoners in one prison sowed their lips together in protest at poor treatment and conditions, others reported cases of torture and abuse and at least one prisoner died from lack of medical treatment.
In a recent interview Carlos Lozano, the editor of the opposition newspaper Voz, a former peace talks facilitator and recipient of the prestigious French Legion of Honour, categorised the FARC’s declared intention to release the men as a “real peace gesture.” He also noted that he was disappointed that the government had appointed Minister of Defence Juan Carlos Pinzon as its representative in implementing the handover. Mr Lozano categorised the Minister as “right-wing, militarist and bellicose” and condemned his opposition to the use of Brazilian helicopters and crews in the handover, stating that appointing him smacked of “giving a strictly humanitarian issue a militaristic treatment.”
Mr Lozano underlined that in the past the Colombian army had illegally used Red Cross insignia on its aircraft in one operation, and in others had tracked Brazilian helicopters to handover sites, placing both these crews and the captives in serious danger.
The editor of Voz also indicated that the call by Colombians for Peace for a bilateral ceasefire was the result of lessons learned from the previous failed peace process of ‘El Caguan’, which took place between 1998-2002. One of the causes of that failure was that the war continued outside the demilitarised zone, which contributed to mistrust in the negotiations.
In the interview Mr Lozano also called for the government to reciprocate the guerrillas’ ‘gestures’ towards peace. “Where are the government’s gestures? Will it end the false positives? Will it respect human rights?” Mr Lozano emphasised that the military option to resolve the conflict had clearly failed, and that therefore the only possible solution was political. Only in this way can “peace with democracy and social justice” be achieved.
He also indicated that the guerrillas could not expect to realise all of their demands, and that he hoped that after a peace process they would create a political platform that would participate in the construction of democratic reforms and a political process of changes.