Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released another hostage this weekend, but failed to let go of two more hostages on Sunday.
Carlos Alberto Ocampo, a policeman captured six weeks ago, was handed over to a humanitarian delegation, but the Colombian government said the FARC provided “false coordinates” about to the location of the two other hostages.
The FARC said that police major Guillermo Solorzano and army corporal Salin Sanmiguel would be released in Colombia’s central Tolima region.
“The helicopters were there and the hostages were not in Tolima, but in the department of Cauca,” said Eduardo Pizarro, the presidential delegate to the hostage negotiations, according to AFP. “In spite of the government respecting its commitments, FARC carried out an act that shocked us.”
Unconfirmed reports claimed that the family members of the hostages said bad weather was the reason for the delay.
The freeing of the hostages comes as the FARC, who have been crippled by eight years of military attacks under former President Álvaro Uribe and current President Juan Manuel Santos, called for talks with the government.
Latin America’s oldest insurgent group has lost large swaths of land they once controlled and have seen their numbers greatly diminished.
“The FARC is sending a clear message it wants to start moving toward peace talks with the government,” said Juan Carlos Palou, an analyst at Bogota-based think-tank Fundacion Ideas Para la Paz, according to Bloomberg. “These releases are viewed not as an act of generosity but as something the FARC has to do in order for the possibility of a dialogue to even exist.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Seven people were fatally shot on the outskirts of Mexico City Sunday as they exited a party.
- Texas is considering an immigration bill that would be similar to Arizona’s controversial law.
- Two prominent Cuban dissidents who had refused to leave prison were released on Saturday as the Cuban government continues to free opposition activists arrested during a notorious crackdown in 2003.
- Cuba’s communist government says it is liberalizing the sale of sugar, after decades of subsidising its price.
- The Guatemalan community in Rhode Island is expressing outrage over remarks by state’s House Minority Leader.
- The United States will give Honduras $82.7 million in aid for several social projects in the next five years.
- Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez scoffed on Sunday at commentary by critics that his 12-year rule was at risk of a people’s uprising like that which toppled Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak after three decades in power.
- Ecuadorean officials say they will temporarily block a potential multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron Corp. for alleged environmental damages.
- An Ecuadorian judge today ordered the release of indigenous leaders José Acacho, Pedro Mashiant and Fidel Karinas, who were arrested on 1 February on charges of terrorism and sabotage for leading by instigating a protest in 2009 in which one person died.
- Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo retired this weekend, after an 18 year career in which he scored more than 400 goals, including a record 15 at World Cups.
- A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile on Sunday about 60 miles west of Talca.
- The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, visited Argentina to meet with Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman.
- Two Koreans were shot by unidentified gunmen in the city of Lambaré, Paraguay on Friday afternoon and are now in critical condition.
Image: OECD @ Flickr.