Bishops not discouraged by Marxist group’s cool response to government offer to release rebel soldiers

.- The Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, expressed his hope that the Marxists Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) still might accept a humanitarian proposal to free dozens of hostages.

The Archbishop of Tunja said he did not consider the cool response of the FARC to the government proposal to mean the door is closed.

The Colombian government has proposed to FARC the release of 50 rebel soldiers in exchange for the release of civilians being held by the group.  The FARC responded that it wanted to decide which soldiers would be released and when, as well as what the conditions and circumstances of the release would be, demanding that the government appoint a negotiator to work out the details.

Archbishop Castro said the last exchange of messages between the two sides was more intended for the public than for each other.  “Both sides are saying they want to reach a humanitarian agreement,” said the Archbishop, although he acknowledged that the FARC “has not budged an inch.”

Archbishop Castro said that their response proves the FARC are willing to “dialogue face to face in some location” and that now it is up to the government to “decide if it is willing to dialogue face to face with the rebels or if things will just stay the same.”

The Archbishop insisted that the only ones jeopardized by this situation are “the kidnapped and the families who must deal with another frustration.”

However, he hoped that the two parties would manifest “creativity and a desire to explore new ways to end this deadlock.”

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