HAVANA – The government of Colombia and the FARC guerrillas resumed peace talks on Wednesday after a weeks-long suspension due to the rebels’ capture of army Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate.
The government’s lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said the return to the negotiating table in Havana “confirms we have left behind events in recent weeks that caused the troubles the country knows about.”
The comment was his only reference to the first major crisis in the peace process that began in November 2012.
President Juan Manuel Santos suspended talks last month after a unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) captured Alzate and two companions in a remote, rebel-dominated area.
The rebels subsequently released their captives.
The guerrilla delegates in Havana did not mention the incident at all on Wednesday, as FARC representative Pablo Catatumbo instead read a statement on humanitarian law in armed conflicts emphasizing the army’s massive material superiority over the insurgents.
It is “incompatible with common sense” to denounce the FARC for using improvised ordnance against the security forces when the latter “indiscriminately use offensive air attacks and 1.5-ton bombs,” Catatumbo said.
The FARC, he said, has never pursued strategies of “generalized attacks on the civilian population.”
De la Calle also addressed former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s recent criticism of the government over alleged “secret and inacceptable” concessions made to the FARC to restart the talks.
“Sen. Alvaro Uribe publicly mentioned some commitments allegedly demanded by the FARC to return to talks,” the negotiator said. “Those demands were never even put forward by the FARC, and if they had been, we would not have accepted them.”
De la Calle said he is willing to talk with other political parties in Colombia to “provide detailed information” about the negotiations and recalled he had met already with several parties, though Uribe’s rightist Centro Democratico rejected the opportunity for a briefing.
“Again we must reject false reports whose only purpose is to place obstacles in front of Colombians’ desire for peace,” De la Calle said.