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On April 2, 2012 the Colombian rebel group FARC-EP unilaterally freed the last 10 police and militaries, of the nearly 500 who have been held in captivity for years by the insurgents. With this act the FARC wanted to confirm its intention to end the use of kidnapping as a strategy of war.
One of the people responsible for these liberations was the ex-senator Piedad Cordoba who said “We are happy because we fulfilled the commitment that we made since 2008, reaching, through epistolary dialogue with the FARC, the liberation of all persons in their possession. And we did it without spilling a single drop of blood. ”
The ex-senator who is part of the group ‘Colombians for Peace’ had said that she will continue to work for the missing people and for reunification with their families. Despite of this news, most of the ex-hostages believe that there are still many civilians and soldiers deprived of their liberty. “We don’t know anything about Cape Pena, civilians Carlos Hernandez Hernandez and the Colón brothers, we know that they are hostages at this moment” said Sergeant Luis Moreno, an ex-prisoner.
Also, Sigifredo Lopez, one of the twelve deputies kidnapped by the FARC in 2002, recently said during an interview with a Colombian newspaper that: “These last 10 years served for the FARC to understand that the kidnapping as a strategy for war had failed, until the point that the people that they claim to represent took to the streets to say no more FARC.
They had to rethink their strategies and they set out to make unilateral releases because politically it was best for them, because each time that they kidnap a Colombian, they are earning the rejection from the society and burying their political project.”
“They have left the kidnapping, not for voluntary reasons, not because that they have decided to respect the dignity of human beings, just because they realized that this strategy has failed, because they earned their [poor] reputation by Colombians. It is a political decision, not a concession” explained the ex-deputy.
Meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged the gesture of the guerrillas to free the 10 soldiers, saying that “this is a step in the right direction” but “insufficient.” No doubt, the recent events reflect a hope for a negotiated solution to Colombia’s internal conflict; a conflict which has been raging for over 50 years. However, for the moment there are radical positions that places distance between the government and the rebel group.
Image Courtesy of OECD