Colombian Government Resumes Peace Talks with Guerrillas despite Kidnapping

By Dialogo
February 01, 2013

The Colombian government’s delegation involved in the peace process with the FARC traveled to Cuba in order to resume the peace talks on January 30, in spite of the guerrilla’s kidnapping of two police officers the week before.

“The president ordered the public forces to carry on their campaign against the FARC. This delegation’s order is to keep working out an agreement to put an end to the conflict. We shall not be diverted from that goal,” the Colombian government’s head of negotiations Humberto de la Calle said in a statement read before leaving for Havana.

His declarations came after the FARC delegation published a statement saying that “we reserve the right to capture those public forces members that surrendered in combat as prisoners of war,” in reference to the two kidnapped police officers.

“We are going to Havana to put an end to the conflict; this is what we agreed upon. Otherwise, the FARC should say so once and for all, and not make the Colombian people’s government waste their time,” he added.

Both delegations, which have been involved in peace talks since November of last year, resumed the rounds of talks on February 1.

Hours after the Colombian government delegate’s statement, the authorities reported three engineers missing in a rural area in Cauca, southern Colombia, presumably kidnapped by the FARC.

General Alejandro Navas, commander of the Military Forces, said the events are under investigation.

Meanwhile, Ombusdsman Arelli Isaldías stated that the engineers were travelling along a rural road when “they were surprised by three armed people, who identified themselves as FARC members, and they were then taken into captivity.”

In February 2012, the FARC renounced the kidnappings of civilians, for purposes of extortion, and they released the last ten police and military officers they had in their possession, all of whom were part of a group of up to 60 hostages that had been held for political reasons since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, victims’ associations have reported that the whereabouts of those allegedly kidnapped by the FARC remain unknown.

The cessation of kidnappings had been established by President Santos as an essential requirement when considering peace talks.