Santos: “The war we want to end”

Police patrol northern Cauca department.
Police patrol northern Cauca department.

“We regret the loss of life of our compatriots,” stated alias ‘Pastor Alape’, a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and member of the FARC’s peace delegation in Havana, after the members of the guerrilla organization perpetrated an attack late Tuesday, killing 11 soldiers and injuring 19 in the department of Cauca.

FARC guerrillas from the ‘Miller Perdomo’ front attacked soldiers at a small army garrison near the hamlet of Buenos Aires, confirmed the Governor of Cauca, Temístocles Ortega.

The attack is a violation of FARC’s decision to enact a unilateral cease-fire since December 2014 and a direct affront to the Colombian Government’s decision in February to halt all aerial bombardments of FARC camps, as a  good will gesture for the success of the two year-long peace talks taking place in Cuba.

Colombia’s Prosecutor General, Alejandro Ordoñez, referred to the attack as “barbaric” and has requested that the government of President Juan Manuel Santos immediately resume aerial bombardments against FARC bases. According to General Mario Augusto Valencia, the soldiers in Buenos Aires “were attacked with explosives, grenades and firearms”.

The FARC in Havana released information that the soldiers died in “defensive action.”

Colombia’s Minister of the Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, stated to the press Wednesday that as a result of the attack in Cauca, conditions for a bilateral ceasefire could no longer be met.

Upon receiving the news Tuesday of the FARC’s assault, President Santos, regretted the deaths of the soldiers, yet reaffirmed his commitment to the peace process stating via twitter that “this is precisely the war we want to end.”

Former president Alvaro Uribe Vélez rebuked Santos’ tweet, claiming the head of state was “deceiving” the Colombian people. The United Nations’ representative in Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild condemned the attack as a “tragic step backwards” in reducing the intensity of the 50 year conflict.

Santos is currently in the region where the attack took place and summoned senior military officials to a security council.

While assessing the circumstances surrounding one of the most violent attacks by FARC in recent months, Santos announced from a military base in Cali, that he would “not be pressured by despicable acts regarding the unilateral ceasefire.” He has ordered the military to resume bombardments against FARC strongholds.

Colombia’s Attorney General, Luis Eduardo Montealegre, referred to the attack as a “war crime.”


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