According to The Latin American Tribune, the Colombian Army reported on Monday (January 20) that fourteen rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were killed in the northeastern department of Arauca, one was wounded and captured and another surrendered himself to government forces.
Authorities also said that a military helicopter was hit by small arms fire from members of the Alfonso Castellanos Mobile Column of the FARC.
The FARC rebels were surprised by authorities in a rural part of Tame as they were preparing “an indiscriminate attack with homemade artillery weapons on the town of Puerto Rondón.”
COMMENT: The target of the airstrike was the leader of the FARC column, known only as “Franklin,” whose whereabouts are being investigated.
It is possible that Franklin was wounded in the attack, or possibly fled into neighboring Venezuela, where he may have been cared for, given the socialist position of the Venezuelan government.
According to the military high command, in the first 20 days of 2014 at least 18 guerrillas have been killed and 40 captured.
This is the first big reversal suffered by the FARC since last Wednesday (January 22) when they ended their unilateral one-month Christmas cease-fire.
The FARC and the government have been engaged in peace negotiations in Havana since November 2012, yet the government has been unwilling to agree to a cease-fire unless it was unlimited in terms of an open-ended time frame.
I have continued to find it puzzling over the years that the FARC was unwilling to agree to an unrestricted cease-fire first before negotiating the elements of a peace accord.
Most governments combating an indigenous insurgency have almost always insisted on a cease-fire first before addressing elements of a peace accord.
Unfortunately, the FARC has continued to kidnap foreigners and public officials and kill innocent civilians, government troops, expats, etc., before agreeing to a cease-fire.
Hopefully, with the FARC’s fighters dwindling of late, it may well time for the Colombian government to force a lasting cease-fire before addressing the key elements of a peace accord.
The FARC has been involved in an aggressive insurgency against the Colombia government since 1964, a 50-year period.