This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:1/13/02
CIP statement at end of FARC talks, January 13, 2002

Washington, DC, January 13, 2002 9:30 PM

Twenty-four hours remain before a three-year-old peace process between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas will come to an official end. The FARC, whose final offer to continue the dialogues was rejected by President Andrés Pastrana, has indicated that it will vacate all towns in the zone that was demilitarized to hold the talks.

The UN envoy who worked with the FARC to hammer out its final offer, James LeMoyne, deserves great praise. The document he helped them to draft represented the most significant concession the guerrillas made during the entire history of the process. The final FARC document tacitly dropped a demand that had kept the guerrillas from the table for over three months: that the Colombian military call off roadblocks, overflights and other so-called "control measures" in the territory and airspace surrounding the zone.

We agree with the Pastrana government that the demand the FARC held until Saturday - that the government lift the official control measures - was not justified by any previous agreement or precondition for talks. But the guerrillas' concerns about a growing paramilitary presence in the municipalities surrounding the zone were valid, and could have been addressed by an international commission, as contemplated in point 11 of the FARC proposal.

As it comes right after the guerrillas' significant concession, the Center for International Policy is saddened by President Pastrana's rejection of further dialogue. It would have been vastly preferable that even a moribund peace process be handed over to Pastrana's successor in August, in order to avoid starting from zero under a new government. We strongly hope that Mr. Pastrana's decision was based on his own convictions, and not determined by pressures from other powerful sectors.

With the apparent end of the peace process, the Center for International Policy is very concerned about the potential for paramilitary violence inside the zone. For years the world has been sickened by massacres and selective killings in other regions that the rightist groups considered to be guerrilla-held, and by the Colombian authorities' failure to react. Because of this pattern, we are alarmed by the prospect of massive casualties in the five municipalities of the former FARC zone. We call on the Colombian military to take all measures legally necessary to protect the zone's civilian population from armed groups, especially the paramilitaries whose large-scale entry is expected. We call on the U.S. government to use its vast network of contacts with the Colombian military to pressure for a comprehensive effort to protect the zone's residents. If these contacts, bought with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, cannot bring even this result, they are not worth having.

The Center for International Policy also reminds the U.S. government that, by law, all grant assistance for Colombia's security forces during the past few years is for counternarcotics purposes only. This includes the fourteen UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters delivered to the Colombian Army this past Tuesday, January 8. In no way can any Colombian Army operation to re-take the demilitarized zone be construed as a counter-narcotics operation. If CIP finds that aircraft or other assistance supplied for counternarcotics purposes is used in this or other counter-insurgency operations, we will notify the U.S. and Colombian publics and will work very closely with congressional allies who share our concern.

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