Fidel spills frijoles on FARC

On Nov. 12 Cuba released La Paz en Colombia (Peace in Colombia), a 265-page book by former president Fidel Castro giving new information about the Cuban government’s relations with Colombia’s leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In the book, which Castro says took 400 hours of work, the former president repeats criticisms he made last July of the FARC’s treatment of prisoners of war and “the capture and holding of civilians not involved in the war.” In the book he also notes that holding “prisoners and hostages deprived the combatants of the ability to maneuver.”

Castro says he tried to convince former FARC leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez, who died in March of this year, that he could make a peace agreement with then-president Andres Pastrana during negotiations in 1999, but that Marulanda didn’t negotiate seriously because he thought the US was planning an intervention that would lead to a prolonged war and possibly a “continental struggle.” The Cubans told him that “the international situation was entirely different from the way he saw it.” Castro says he admired Marulanda’s “revolutionary firmness” but felt that armed struggle was no longer viable, noting that Cuba aided the rebels in Nicaragua in the 1970s and in El Salvador in the 1980s. Castro mocks the US insistence that the rebels are terrorists; in 1999, Castro says, a US representative met with the FARC’s chief negotiator, the late Raúl Reyes, in Costa Rica to discuss cooperation on an anti-narcotics program. (Granma, Cuba, Nov. 15; La Jornada, Nov. 13, 14, 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 16

See our last posts on Cuba, Colombia and the FARC.