Thursday, November 27, 2014

Colombia: Long-Awaited Release of Army General, Others Expected This Weekend

According to The Latin American Tribune, leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian Army have begun preparations for the release in the next few days of Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate and two companions whose abduction resulted in the recent suspension of peace talks in Havana.

After days of speculation about a possible release date and barely 24 hours after soldiers César Rivera and Jonathan Diaz were freed by the FARC, President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday (November 26) said the release would be this weekend.

“And finally, a notice of information has just come to me, that I had been asked a lot about when they are going to release the general, the lady and the corporal.” According to the protocols, it the trio will be released on Saturday (November 29),” Santos said at a forum in Bogotá.

Hours later, the Defense Ministry announced in a statement that it had received the coordinates of where the three will be released; and it is expected to be in the same jungle region of Choco where they were captured on November 16.

Military operations are to be suspended from midnight Thursday to facilitate the handover of the general, an army corporal and a female attorney.

On previous occasions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided its offices to receive hostages from rebel groups.

Meanwhile, the FARC called on the Colombian authorities to avoid armed clashes and respect the clauses of the humanitarian agreement for the release of the general and his companions.

“We don’t want risks of armed clashes by the non-compliance of protocols,” said the FARC in a statement.

COMMENT: Even though peace talks between the government and the FARC have reportedly been underway for over two years, the FARC’s modus operandi is to insert intrigue and drama into all prisoner releases.

The FARC said that during the release of the soldiers Diaz and Rivera on Tuesday (November 25) an army patrol happened through the release area, forcing the prisoner exchange to be deferred.

Following the abduction of Alzate and his companions, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón deployed 500 soldiers to search for them.

The ICRC is maintaining a scrupulous silence to protect the operation and was reluctant to admit if it had already received the coordinates to prepare for the release.

“We neither confirm nor deny having the coordinates,” said the Red Cross spokesperson, Patricia Rey, when asked by journalists in Colombia.

It was not known who present be in the group to accept the hostages, which is expected to have representatives from Cuba and Norway, the guarantor countries of the peace process between the FARC and the authorities.

The jungle province has been experiencing incessant rains for the last three days, leading the media to speculate about the possibility that the ICRC will use a boat to transport the general and the others following their release.

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