BOGOTA – Colombia’s FARC guerrillas on Monday denied having requested that some of the 26 zones where the rebels are gathering to disarm be different from those that were agreed to with Bogota, in contrast to remarks by High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo.
“The problem is the arrogance of the government. They made some contracts that were arrangements without taking into account that this is not a unilateral question, but rather bilateral,” Luis Alberto Alban, alias “Marcos Calarca,” one of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leaders, said at a press conference.
He insisted that if this were to be unilateral, it would affect the FARC because the disbanded rebels “are going to live in those places.”
The delays in completing the 26 disarmament camps for the FARC are due to several “commanders not allowing progress to be made,” Jaramillo said Monday.
“In many camps, the FARC commanders themselves have kept any progress from being made because they make demands that have nothing to do with what was agreed with the FARC,” Jaramillo told a press conference in Bogota, where he spoke about the guerrilla group’s ongoing complaints.
The official said that in some cases FARC leaders have requested gymnasiums or solidly built facilities that are simply not in line with the nature of temporary camps meant to lodge close to 7,000 guerrillas in the transition zones, collectively known as the ZVTN.
In that regard, Jaramillo recalled that the government came to a detailed agreement about how the camps would be built in a meeting with the FARC high command last Jan. 17.
For that reason, he said that if “there are commanders making other demands” besides those agreed upon, “that’s their problem.”
“This has been a real roadblock but as far as we can see, members of the FARC high command are doing a good job of instructing their people, and we have facilitated their visits so they can work things out,” the official said, adding that the government “will do nothing different” from what was agreed upon.
However, the director of the ZVTN, Carlos Cordoba, said the problems have arisen at a number of campsites, ranging from the guerrillas’ demands to be paid wages as construction workers to the creation of sports centers, more permanent buildings, better highways and even about the materials being used.
In winding up the press conference, Jaramillo noted that the ZVTN will not continue past May 29, since they are “not physical places” but “part of an agreement with legal significance.”
Nonetheless, he said that once the final date is reached, the guerrillas won’t be dispersed from the ZVTN, but will make the transition to legality in a progressive manner, which presumably means they will be able to stay longer at the camps.