Chief negotiator for Colombia’s armed guerrilla group the FARC, Iván Márquez, has expressed interest in meeting with Argentine Pope Francis during his planned visit to Cuba in September.
“It would be extraordinary. We can imagine the impact that backing from Pope Francis will have on the collective effort that we, as Colombians, are making to reach peace, after decades of conflict.” Márquez, whose real name is Luciano Marín Arango, commented.
“We would really like to meet with the Pope. It would be extraordinary,” he added.
Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit Cuba.
“We are always willing to help. In various ways. It would be a shame if they couldn’t continue (with the peace talks).” the Pope commented.
The Argentine recently completed an eight day visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.
The FARC has responded to allegations of rape and sexual violence committed by the group against Colombia’s female civil population during the country’s decades of internal armed conflict.
Currently, 40 percent of the FARC’s members are women.
“We vehemently reject the continuos media campaign carried out against the FARC, which aims to demonize us, portraying us as systematic violators of women’s rights,” the group commented in a release.
The FARC has requested that Colombian government open investigations into the claims, during the 38th cycle of the Havana-based peace talks.
An ambitious plot
Colombian newspaper El Tiempo has unearthed plans that the insurgent group were planning to kidnap a niece of ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, studying in Bogotá in 1975.
The group were hoping to use Pinochet’s niece to negotiate the release of Colombian political prisoners being held in Chile.
A declassified telegram from the CIA states that “the kidnapping will have marked international repercussions and will ensure the release of two or three communist leaders incarcerated in Chile.”
The FARC signed an agreement to enter into a unilateral ceasefire on July 20.