Nov 20 2014

FARC Kidnapping Thwarts Talks, But US Policy is Colombia’s Real Roadblock to Peace

Feature Stories | Published 20 Nov 2014, 1:48 pm | Comments Off on FARC Kidnapping Thwarts Talks, But US Policy is Colombia’s Real Roadblock to Peace -

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Colombia’s two year-old peace process between the government and the FARC rebel group is in jeopardy. FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been waging a war against the state for 50 years and for the first time in its history, abducted a high-ranking general named Ruben Dario Alzate, potentially derailing talks.

Alzate was traveling in a civilian capacity in a rural part of northern Colombia when he was snatched by rebel soldiers. A corporal named Jorge Rodriguez Contreras, and a civilian lawyer named Gloria Urrego, who were with Alzate, were also captured. FARC initially justified the kidnappings saying that their pledge to stop such actions during the peace process applied only to civilians, not members of the military. The group also maintains that it is unfair for the government to have the right to respond militarily during peace talks, while FARC is expected to hold back. Just this morning, a deal was announced between the government and FARC that may lead to the rebel group returning Alzate and his companions “safe and sound,” as President Juan Manuel Santos had demanded.

The last round of peace talks, which were unsuccessful, took place in 2002 when FARC rebels kidnapped a senator and held him captive for 6 years. More than 200,000 people have died in Colombia in the past 50 years as a result of the internal conflict, a majority at the hands of paramilitary groups linked to the government But FARC has also been linked to serious violence.

GUEST: Dan Kovalik, a labor and human rights lawyer who teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

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