FARC Commander Denies Rebels Have Been Weakened

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The FARC has released a video in which commander ‘Ivan Marquez’ denies the government’s claims that the rebel group has been weakened, in what may be an attempt to project an image of strength in case the group enters peace talks.

In the video (see below), Marquez denies that the guerrillas have reached “the end,” as the authorities have claimed. He states that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are ready to fight, and will continue to seek support abroad.

Marquez also described the guerrillas as a legitimate political group, declaring that they have a right to rebellion enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that it is wrong to classify their actions as “terrorism.”

FARC guerrillas killed six soldiers on Saturday in an ambush on the road between Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, and Quibdo, capital of the Pacific province of Choco. Commander of the Army’s 7th Division General Hernan Giraldo said that members of the guerrillas’ 34th Front detonated explosives when an army patrol came to the area to investigate reports of a rebel attack, reports the AFP. The security forces killed three guerrillas in clashes.

InSight Crime’s Analysis

The video was released days after the rebels released their last 10 political hostages, in a move that has been widely interpreted as a step towards peace negotiations with the government. Along with the Choco attack, the video seems to be part of an effort by the rebels to approach the negotiating table in a position of power.

The government has also struck heavy blows against the rebels as peace talks emerge as an increasingly real prospect, killing more than 70 guerrillas in two bombing raids on FARC camps in March. The authorities said the attacks were part of their new strategy to hit the group’s wealthiest fronts, to undermine their capacity to carry out operations, as opposed to focusing on taking out the group’s leaders.

There is speculation that talks between the government and the rebels may already have begun, with reports that President Juan Manuel Santos has asked Cuba’s leadership to act as intermediaries. However, Santos may prefer to wait until he wins a second term in 2014, when he would not have to worry about the prospect of failed talks hurting his re-election chances.

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