“We believe it worthwhile to break this vicious curse and place our bets instead on reconciliation and peace … Neither police officers or soldiers should die. Not even the guerrillas should die. It would be better if there were neither one nor the other.” In a letter addressed to the movement ‘Colombianas por la paz y Colombianos’ (CC), writes the last commander of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, alias ‘Timochenko’, confirming the Group’s decision to release the first ten hostages and renounce kidnapping for ransom.
“When we publicly committed to renounce kidnappings for economic purposes, we completed an internal process promoted by comrade Alfonso Cano (killed by the army in November, ed) aiming to put a permanent end to this activity,” added ‘Timochenko’ , denying that FARC still holds hundreds of civilians hostage, as claimed by the NGO ‘País Libre’, which says FARC still has 405 prisoners, based on complaints from families.
According to the police anti-kidnapping unit, the number of abductions have declined in recent years: the seizures recorded between November 2010 and November 2011 were 255: 145 were attributed to general criminals, 72 to FARC, 30 to the smaller ELN (National Liberation Army) guerrillas, and eight to so-called neo-paramilitary groups.
At the same time, ‘Timochenko’ denied that the FARC are the responsibility of several violent acts that occurred in recent days in parts of the country, blaming this on “military intelligence”.
A proposed “the establishment of a dialogue” yesterday was also proffered by the leader of the CC, former opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba, who urged President Juan Manuel Santos to “show his availability” in negotiations, seeing as, so far, the Head of State has always posed three conditions before negotiations might begin: FARC must release all hostages, FARc must renounce terrorism and FARC must renounce the recruitment of children.