From Ciudad Nueva courtesy of Mirada Global:
The announcement is a surprise, but not such a big surprise. The FARC will no longer get its funds through kidnapping civilians and it will liberate 10 policemen they’ve been holding since 1998 and 1999.
The announcement didn’t come as such a big surprise because the FARC are going through a phase of great weakness despite the intensification of their guerrilla actions. In these last times, after the natural death of its historical leader Manuel Marulanda (Tirofijo), the elimination of several other political and military chiefs, the loss of popular support and the desertions which have reduced its troops from 20 thousand to a current 9 thousand, the guerrillas have found themselves in increasing difficulties.
Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, sees it as a step in the right direction, but still unsatisfactory. In fact, in order to start peace negotiations, the government asks that the FARC not only ceases to kidnap civilians, but that it also liberates the rest of the hostages —between 150 and 300— they still hold captive, and stop all military operations. Without this, the regular army will continue its successful offensive that has been a severe blow to the communist guerrillas.
The FARC appear in 1964 as the military arm of the communist party. With time, the FARC was joined by the Ejército de Liberación Nacional and later still, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, both of them linked to the paramilitary in the war against the State. The ones who have benefitted from this state of chaos and confrontation have undoubtedly been the omnipresent and omnipotent drug cartels.
Where does this gesture of the FARC lead to? In their present condition of weakness they are more likely to accept an honorable surrender than a peace negotiation, like the one attempted in1998-2002, under the administration of President Andrés Pastrana, and which would not be acceptable for the government. Perhaps the FARC’s announcement is the result of informal contacts which could be the first steps of the process by which the guerrilla could become a political group. This is by all means a better objective than the permanent conflict which has covered the country with blood for nearly half a century.
Also available in Spanish.