Colombia Announces Arrest of Five Guerrillas by Ecuadorean Authorities

By Dialogo
December 23, 2011

The commandant of the Colombian Navy, Admiral Roberto García, reported that Ecuadorean authorities arrested five FARC guerrillas in an area on the border between the two countries.

“General (Fernando) Proaño of Ecuador conducted the operation, which resulted in the arrest of five individuals with 200 kilos of explosives, 25 improvised explosive devices, and radios; they were all wearing black uniforms, and they had a ton of provisions,” the high-ranking officer told reporters.

García indicated that the arrests were made in the town of “Piñuña Blanco, on the Ecuadorean bank of the Putumayo River” and that these guerrillas were “explosives experts from Front 48” of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Those arrested will be tried in Colombian courts on charges related to “rebellion and terrorism,” the admiral indicated on a visit to Tres Esquinas military base, in the department of Caquetá (in southeastern Colombia).

“This is an example of how by collaborating, in this case with Ecuador, it’s possible to fight the FARC more effectively,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who participated with García in the launch at the military base of a campaign to provide incentives for guerrilla demobilization.

On December 19, Santos visited his Ecuadorean counterpart, Rafael Correa, in Quito, in the first official visit by a Colombian president since the diplomatic crisis caused by the Colombian bombardment of FARC guerrillas in Ecuador on March 1, 2008.

Correa broke off ties with Colombia as a consequence of the bombardment of a clandestine FARC base on Ecuadorean territory, which left 25 dead, including that rebel group’s second-ranking leader, Raúl Reyes.

That incursion was authorized by Santos while serving as defense minister in Álvaro Uribe’s administration (2002-2010). Ties were reestablished in November 2009.

The FARC is Latin America’s oldest guerrilla group, with 47 years of armed struggle, and currently has fewer than 9,000 fighters, according to the commandant of the Colombian Military, General Alejandro Navas.