Nothing Peaceful About Colombian Peace Talks With FARC Rebels
EL TIEMPO, EL UNIVERSAL, UNIVISION, EL COMBIANO, EL TIEMPO (Colombia), XINHUA (China)
BOGOTA – As peace talks continue in Cuba between FARC rebels and the Colombian government, and even though the rebels agreed to release three hostages, the past few days in Colombia have been anything but peaceful. This week a FARC bomb killed two people and injured 28 more, while government forces captured two FARC leaders.
PRISONER RELEASE: On Monday it was announced that the FARC would release three prisoners. According to El Tiempo, FARC leader “Rodrigo Granda” (an alias) confirmed that the process had already begun: “the release is going forward and in the coming hours or days there will be news about it.”
Xinhua reports that Cristian Yate and Victor Gonzalez, two police officers, and Josue Meneses, a soldier, have been held by the FARC since January, when they were captured during military operations in combat zones.
Granda insisted that "the men had not been kidnapped, they were prisoners of war, held by the FARC, who fell during military operations in the war zones." He insisted, reported El Tiempo, that the FARC were willing to return these POWs as soon as possible.
Piedad Córdoba Ruiz, a former senator and leader of the NGO Colombians for Peace, announced Tuesday that the coordinates of the prisoners had been released via her twitter account. "With joy I can report that the coordinates have arrived. I informed Deputy Minister of Defense Jorge Bedoya. We’re delighted that they will be released."
Con alegría informo que ya llegaron las coordenadas. Se lo comuniqué al Viceministro de Defensa. Estamos listos para comenzar liberaciones.
— Piedad Córdoba Ruiz (@piedadcordoba) February 12, 2013
According to El Colombiano on Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Bedoya announced that if there were no last minute obstacles with weather, security or logistics between Thursday and Saturday, the captives would be able to celebrate their release.
TERRORIST BOMBING: A device exploded in the Miraflores area, less than 200 kilometers from Bogota, on Monday night killing two people and injuring 28, including a pregnant woman. Miraflores Mayor Julio Cesar Gonzalez announced that the dead included a police officer and an 11-year old boy. El Universal reports that the FARC caused a fire to attract the attention of security forces in the area, then detonated the device.
El Tiempo spoke to Sandra Sepulveda, who explained that “the town had gathered around the fire and that they were making a human chain, passing buckets of water from the river up to the site to put the blaze out when the device detonated. It was 7:30 p.m. and there was so much confusion and shouting.” She added that there are no firemen in Miraflores.
CAPTURING FARC LEADERS: Univision writes that Colombian police have captured a leader of FARC, identified as Victor Hugo Silva, whose alias is "Erik" or "The Goat." According to Colombian authorities, Silva is a member of the Central Joint Command of FARC.
Xinhua reports that Manuelita Saenz was the second target for the Colombian authorities, who has an outstanding arrest warrant for charges of terrorism, rebellion, kidnapping and murder.
According to La Tarde, officers said that “Erik” has been charged with buying weapons to strengthen the “terrorist” system, as well as with extortion. The capture came after two months of planning and thanks to an inside source, who will be paid a reward of $250,000.