Bogotá – The second-in-command of the FARC guerrilla group's Southern Bloc, believed to have been killed in a Colombian military airstrike in 2010, reappeared in an interview with Caracol Television.
Jose Benito Cabrera, alias "Fabian Ramirez," who was dressed in an olive-green uniform and cap and looked noticeably older, said his "intelligence services" had warned him about the bombing and that he had fled the area beforehand.
That airstrike, part of Operation Nemesis, took place in November 2010 near San Vicente del Caguan in the southern province of Caqueta, a historical stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
In the aftermath of the airstrike, which killed at least four guerrillas, President Juan Manuel Santos said security forces had located some of Ramirez's belongings - including a backpack and computers - but the rebel's body was not found.
In the interview in a jungle area, the guerrilla chief told British independent journalist Karl Penhault that the FARC is interested in "ending the war."
"This war needs to be ended via an agreement, without hatred, without advantages, ceding ground" to reach a deal, he said, adding that governments "aren't interested in that (because) it's a business; the politicians don't want that because there are economic interests."
He also reiterated the FARC's pledge - first made in February, two months before releasing the last remaining police officers and soldiers in its possession - to not carry out any more kidnappings for ransom.
But Ramirez said that if security forces are captured they will be regarded as prisoners.
The rebel also blamed "corrupt" politicians for "robbing the (the Colombian people) of their chance to survive."
Shortly afterward, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said in an interview with that same media outlet that it is regrettable that a news program "gives space and recognition ... to someone who has caused so much harm."
Pinzon said the military "remains on the offensive" against the guerrillas nationwide and lamented Tuesday's death of the highway patrol commander in the northwestern province of Antioquia, Col. Cristian Florez, apparently at the hands of the FARC.
The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since the mid-1960s.