Andes, Colombia, News Briefs, North America

Colombian Government and FARC Agree on Process to Free Kidnapped General

November 20, 2014 By Dusty Christensen

An agreement has been reached between FARC rebels and the Colombia government on steps to release Gen. Rubén Darío Alzate, according to a statement released by the Cuban and Norwegian governments, which were involved in brokering the deal. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended two-year-old peace talks with the FARC in the wake of Alzate’s capture, insisting that the talks would not resume until Alzate was returned.

Alzate, who is the highest-ranking officer to be taken by the FARC in Colombia’s 50-year-old civil conflict, was captured on Sunday in the rebel-dominated northern province of Chocó, along with a soldier and a lawyer who were with him. After confirming the kidnappings, FARC leader Jorge Torres Victoria insisted that the capture was an act of war against “enemy military personnel who were carrying out their duties in a war zone.”

The FARC has agreed to release the three, in addition to two other soldiers kidnapped on Nov. 9 in the eastern state of Arauca. No details have been released about the specifics of the prisoners’ return, other than that the International Red Cross would assist in the process as it has in previous prisoner transfers.

“Once they are all free, the government’s delegation will return to Havana,” the Colombian presidency said in a statement, thanking the governments of Norway and Cuba for their collaboration.

The kidnapping of Alzate was the most serious challenge to the peace talks since they began in 2012.

Image: YouTube

About Dusty Christensen

Dusty Christensen is a writer based in New York City, and a producer of LAND's podcast, Radio Dispatch. His work has appeared at The Nation magazine, NPR's Latino USA, Eight by Eight magazine and Alternet, among other places. He speaks English, Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian with varying degrees of success, and is currently a Quechua-language FLAS Fellow at New York University.