Bogota, April 20 (IANS/EFE) Colombia's FARC rebels said they won't surrender or lay down their weapons as a precondition for dialogue with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.
"For our part, sitting down to talk does not point to any kind of surrender," the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in a statement posted on the Internet.
"The re-incorporation (of guerrillas) into civilian life implies and demands a different Colombia," Timoleon "Timochenko" Jimenez said in the FARC's first official response to Santos' recent call for further conciliatory gestures from the rebels.
The president made those comments April 2 after hailing the FARC's release of the last 10 members of the security forces the insurgents were holding captive and the guerrilla group's promise to abandon kidnapping-for-ransom.
Colombia's decades-long internal conflict has witnessed the "degradation of living conditions of the majority" as a result of the "unbridled and savage enrichment of a few", Timochenko said.
That phenomenon and the "state apparatus" used to "crush nonconformity at any price ... are the realities that should be discussed and set on the path to solution in a dialogue", the FARC chief said.
Timochenko said Santos' peace rhetoric has not been matched by action.
While Santos said on taking office in August 2010 that he intended to pursue talks with the FARC, within days of his inauguration he ordered the attack in which senior FARC commander Mono Jojoy was killed, Timochenko noted.
The FARC chief also faulted Santos for the military strike that claimed the life of Timochenko's predecessor, Alfonso Cano.
Timochenko described Cano as the FARC Secretariat's strongest advocate for dialogue with the government, adding: "Santos knew that very well."
Founded in 1964, the FARC has suffered a series of reverses in recent years, but still has an estimated 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of the Andean nation.
Read More: UNODC | UNAIDS | UNESCO | UNHCR | UNICEF | UNIDO | United Nations Volunteers | UNIFEM | WFP | World Bank | UNIC | ILO | United nations | IAEA | POSCO | Colombia | Juan | A.g.office | Kolkata Armed Police Po | Armed Veng