Andes, Colombia, Today in Latin America

FARC to Release First Captives, But Warns Over General’s Release

November 25, 2014 By Staff

Top Story — FARC rebels will release two hostages on Tuesday morning, according to a statement issued from Havana by delegates representing the guerrilla group. The release of Gen. Rubén Darío Alzate, the highest-ranking FARC captive in 50 years, is planned for Thursday. However, the statement from Havana warned that the general’s release may be cancelled, owing to the heavy military presence in the province where he is being held.

Tuesday’s handover of Pvts. Paulo César Rivera and Jonathan Andrés Díaz will take place in the Arauca province, where the two were originally captured on Nov. 9. Gen. Darío Alzate is reportedly being held captive in Chocó province, along with corporal Jorge Rodriquez and lawyer Gloria Urrego, after the three were captured on Nov. 16 while travelling through the region by boat.

On Sunday, the rebel group threatened to cancel Tuesday’s handover due to military presence in the region. The same day, Colombia’s defence ministry announced the suspension of military operations to ensure the safe return of the two captive soldiers. Today’s statement by the FARC, threatening to cancel Thursday’s handover of the general, echoed Sunday’s statement.

FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, who goes by Timochenko, said in the statement that President Juan Manuel Santos had “overturned the board game” and “destroyed” the ongoing peace negotiations when he suspended them last week, following the kidnapping of Gen. Darío Alzate.

Negotiations between the rebel group and the Colombian government began in 2012 in Havana. Cuba and Norway have been acting as guarantors during the peace talks.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • A U.S. federal judge has sentenced an alleged lieutenant of former Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman to 22 years in prison for reportedly shipping cocaine through railway cars in Chicago.
  • Despite ongoing criticism of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto over the disappearance and suspected massacre of 43 students, the president faces no popular opposition leaders, and thus protests seem unlikely to be enough to remove him from power.
  • The University of Texas received the archives of legendary, Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, who is known to have brought stories from Latin America to an international audience.

Caribbean

  • Haiti’s ongoing political crisis shows no signs of abating, according to a piece in Foreign Policy, which investigates the delayed elections, protests and continued unrest in the country.
  • Months of drought in Jamaica have caused farming communities to lose their crops, threatening food security on the island.
  • Cuba will see its first production of Jonathan Larson’s musical “Rent,” which is set to open in Havana on Christmas Eve, continuing recent efforts to bring a musical theater tradition back to the country.

Central America

  • “Women City” centers in El Salvador are helping women in the country report and get out of abusive relationships, as well as provide them with healthcare and business advice, in a model that could be adopted by other Latin American countries.
  • “Suspicion and mystery” have surrounded the Chinese transoceanic canal project in Nicaragua — on which construction should begin Dec. 22 — according to a piece by Frida Ghitis for CNN, who explores the numerous controversies and speculations involving the canal.

Andes

  • Peruvian authorities are looking into why some 500 sea lions may have washed up on the country’s coastline on Sunday.
  • Colombian authorities arrested the “czar” accused of selling coltan and uranium, mined illegally in protected indigenous areas by FARC and ELN guerrillas, to foreign buyers through a front company that had several government and security officials on its payroll.
  • As Venezuela seeks to borrow even more money from its largest creditor China, the latter country has agreed to loosen the terms of repayment on nearly $50 billion in debt already owed to it by the economically beleaguered Andean nation.

Southern Cone

  • Police have captured five of the 32 inmates who escaped from a local jail in Rosario, Argentina, over the weekend, an incident that led to the firing of five of the jail’s officers.
  • Brazil’s top court for monitoring public spending has voiced concerns that an ongoing probe into corruption at Petrobras could jeopardize construction projects — and in turn, economic growth — due to the many links between the country’s largest corporations and the state-owned oil company.
  • Thousands of Chileans marched in Santiago on Sunday to demand greater citizen input in the potential drafting of a new constitution, which was one of President Michelle Bachelet’s campaign promises.
  • Uruguayan President José Mujica apologized for calling Mexico a “failed state” in an interview published last week, after Mexico called upon the President to address his statements.

Image: YouTube

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