FARC Releases Hostage Soldier

By Dialogo
February 20, 2013

Soldier Josué Álvarez was handed over by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in southwest Colombia, on February 16. Álvarez was captured during a clash between rebels and security forces on January 30, the humanitarian institution reported.

“A member of the National Army who was held captive by the FARC-EP, was released and handed over today in a rural area of Nariño department in southwest Colombia to members of the humanitarian mission of the ICRC and the NGO ‘Colombianos y Colombianas por la Paz’ (Colombians for Peace),” the institution said in a statement.

“Soldier Josué Álvarez is being transferred to the Policarpa jurisdiction (Nariño) on an ICRC vehicle, where he will be delivered to ICRC authorities,” the report added.

Álvarez, age 19, who seems to be in good health, was captured after FARC rebels clashed with soldiers in a rural southern area of Nariño department on January 30.

This liberation, which comes amid peace talks progressing in Cuba between FARC and the Colombian government, is part of the release of three force members held captive since January, and comes after two Police Officers - held for three weeks - were also handed over to the ICRC in a rural village of Cauca department on February 15.

In February 2012, the FARC said they would no longer kidnap civilians for ransom and freed the last 10 police and military staff they were holding, all of whom were among a group of about 60 hostages.

The ongoing peace talks which started in Havana, Cuba, in November 2012 included a two-month unilateral truce by the FARC, as a sign of “goodwill” towards these talks.

Colombia’s other guerrilla, the National Liberation Army (ELN), still holds Canadian national Jernoc Wobert, Exploration Vice President for Geo Explorer in Colombia; and two retired German siblings hostages.

The Canadian citizen was kidnapped on January 18 along with two Peruvians and three Colombians employed by the Canadian firm, all of whom were handed over to the ICRC on February 15.

The Germans, aged 69 and 73, have been held by the ELN since November 2012, when they were kidnapped in a rural area of Norte de Santander department, according to the guerrillas. The ICRC is currently negotiating the conditions for their release.