FARC slams Colombia gov't for causing environmental destruction
The FARC decried Saturday in Havana a campaign to blame the guerrilla group for environmental damage in Colombia, where, according to the rebels, the government's economic policies inflict a constant "ecocide."
"The campaign recently organized to blame the FARC as the ones chiefly responsible for environmental damage in Colombia lack all reason and honesty," the guerrilla group's negotiators said in a statement read by the insurgent Carlos Antonio Lozada, the alias of Luis Antonio Losada.
In the opinion of the Colombian armed group, "there is no greater damage to the environment than the 'ecocide' constantly perpetrated by the economic policies of this government that the FARC combats every day, and by the neoliberal deregulatory practices that keep multinational corporations and business groups from being controlled and penalized."
Over the past few days, the Colombian government and guerrillas have battled each other from an environmental angle, after FARC negotiators praised this week the "courage' Pope Francis showed in his encyclical about the challenges inherent in protecting the ecosystem.
On Friday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called the guerrillas "cynics" for offering such praise while attacking the nation's oil infrastructure and consequently causing so much damage to the environment.
Last Monday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, attacked the Transandino pipeline in the southern part of the country, which caused an oil spill of 1.9 million liters (500,000 gallons) of crude, and caused more environmental and social damage than any spill in the past 10 years.
Over the past month, in fact, rebel attacks have ruptured sections of pipelines in the southern border provinces of Putumayo and Nariño; in Arauca and Norte de Santander, bordering Venezuela; and in the central region of Boyaca.
The resulting oil spills "pose serious threats to people's lives and health, as well as to the integrity of ecosystems," a group of environmental organizations said this week in a statement.
They called on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to "respect Humanitarian Law, abstain from harming the environment" and stressed the "need to exclude both local communities and the ecosystem from the armed conflict."
More than 84,000 people have been affected by the latest attacks on oil pipelines, according to the statement.
International Humanitarian Law "prohibits actors in armed conflicts from incurring in environmental damage not justified by imperative military needs, in accord with the principles of discrimination and proportionality," the environmental groups said.
But the guerrilla group is not proud of this "undesired" damage, according to FARC delegates to the peace talks in Havana.
"We are not proud of the result of actions taken against the oil infrastructure, nor are we proud of the deaths of army soldiers when they occur, unlike the joy that the media and government spokespersons show every time they shamelessly display our slain combatants as trophies," the FARC statement said.
Government and guerrillas continue their peace talks in Havana with the discussion of the sensitive subject of victims, which they have debated for more than a year. EFE