Government hoping for more steps toward peace and unity
by Linette Muñoz
In an attempt to continue the peace talks previously suspended by President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian rebels, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released three government-employed hostages to the Cuban and Norwegian governments and the Red Cross two weeks after they were captured. These hostages were Brigadier General Rubén Darío Alzate, who commands a group of 2,500 soldiers and was the head of the Colombian army’s anti-kidnapping unit, lawyer Gloria Urrego, and Corporal Jorge Rodriguez. According to a tweet by the president, the hostages were “in perfect condition” upon release after their fourteen days in captivity.
On the day of their capture, Alzate, Urrego, Rodriguez, and another soldier that escaped were traveling by boat along a river in order to inspect an energy project. But, according to FARC leaders, there were no such projects in the area. The soldier that escaped was able to go back and inform officials of the detainment of Alzate, Urrego, and Rodriguez.
This hostage crisis is just one of many alarming incidents that have taken place during this war. Since 1964, FARC has been terrorizing Colombia in an ongoing war for political power. Its peasant army of Marxist-Leninists have tried to push their political agenda of anti-imperialism and agrarianism. This guerrilla rebel group will do anything for the cause, even if it means destroying their country in the process. In order to gain awareness of their group and their message they have sabotaged oil pipelines, trying to damage Colombia’s biggest export industry. In addition, terrorist attacks on buildings has increased over 300% and extortion has tripled in the past four years. Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of Quidbo, said that he does not “see any reduction in their activity” as “extortion, illegal mining and drugs has made them stronger.”
Since 2012, the Colombian government has been holding peace talks in Havana, Cuba with the leaders of the FARC group in hopes of putting an end to this fifty-year war. As a sign of good faith, FARC leaders released all of their prisoners and hostages at the beginning of the peace talks. Unfortunately, these talks have been at a standstill for the past few years. While FARC calls for a ceasefire, President Santos has rejected the request due to past rebel seizes of land during these armistices. The hope for a ceasefire was reiterated on Sunday November 30 after the release of the hostages with a twitter post by FARC stating their desire for a bilateral ceasefire.
Many hope that with the release of the hostages, the peace talks will be reignited. Head of the Red Cross delegation in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, said, “We continue to support this process, with a view to alleviating the suffering of all the victims of this long conflict.”
There is still no word when the peace talks will continue.