From the horse’s mouth

Machetera is an impatient sort – here we are 5 days after the fact and still apparently no-one else in the whole wide world can be bothered to translate the FARC communiques into English, which means that if you care about the future of peace in Colombia (and thereby the continent) you have to guess at the FARC point of view through a press filter. Since Machetera likes to go to the source, it appears that she will have to continue to translate for the FARC, even though it means that she may well end up blogging herself to death.

FARC Communique – April 8, 2008

1. The unilateral release of five congressional representatives and one ex-candidate for the vice-presidency which took place between January and February, was primarily a gesture of generosity and political will by the FARC, not of weakness or the result of pressure, as the government of Señor Uribe wrongly assumes. Such liberations were due to a sovereign decision of the FARC insurgency, encouraged by the persistent humanitarian work of President Hugo Chávez and Senator Piedad Córdoba.

2. Since the latest unilateral liberation on February 27, we’ve been waiting for a presidential decree ordering the military to vacate Pradera y Florida and guarantee the guerrillas presence, in order to carry out a humanitarian exchange in that area. The guerrillas being held prisoner in the jails of Colombia and the United States are our priority. We reject the fixed characterization of political crimes being used to prevent the guerrillas from leaving prison. We are not asking anyone for refugee status, used to camouflage banishment and the institutionalization of the crime of having an opinion.

3. We deeply regret that while we were making tangible efforts in the direction of a prisoner exchange, President Uribe slyly planned and executed the murder of Commandante Raúl Reyes, sending hopes for peace and a humanitarian exchange to their death. Anyone who orders their generals to carry out a military rescue in blood and fire doesn’t want an exchange. Anyone who offers millions of dollars to urge defections with prisoners does not want an exchange. That’s what Uribe is: the main obstacle and Number One Enemy of exchange. That’s why he places irresponsible bets, every day, on fatal outcomes.

4. For the same reasons given to the International Red Cross on January 17, the French medical mission is not appropriate and even less so, considering that it is not the result of combined efforts, but of Uribe’s bad faith before the Elysée government, and a heartless mockery of the hopes of the prisoners’ families. We do not perform under threat of blackmail, nor the impetus of media campaigns. If at the beginning of the year, President Uribe had cleared Pradera and Florida for 45 days, Ingrid Betancourt and all the soldiers and guerrilla prisoners would already have been freed, and everyone would have been victorious.

Secretariat of the Central General Staff of the FARC-EP

Mountains of Colombia, April 4, 2008

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