The government of Colombia has agreed to free 30 FARC terrorists as part of an ongoing peace process with the terrorist organization, with 17 of them expected to be free this week.
The pardon arrives amid the latest round of talks between Colombian diplomats and the leadership of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana, where communist dictator Raúl Castro has agreed to serve as mediator. Officials consider it a middle ground response to the FARC’s latest demand: the liberation of any FARC terrorist deemed to be suffering an illness.
“We have submitted to the government’s consideration a new confidence-building measure, with clear humanitarian content, which would permit the liberation of members of our Public Forces,” “Iván Márquez,” one of the leaders of the FARC enjoying asylum in Havana, said this week.
The government responded by rejecting the proposition entirely, instead offering to free prisoners they deemed sufficiently low-risk to not present a threat upon being released. “The President of the Republic is the only suitable person to speak as to how this process will go,” Commander of the National Army Gen. Alberto José Mejía told reporters on Monday. “We are very calm about this,” he added, “it is not going to be ‘Timochenko’ nor ‘Gabino’ nor ‘Márquez,’ or any of those gentlemen, who will tell us how our justice will work. We are not interested in their opinion in that sense.”
The guerrilla terrorist known as ‘Timochenko’ is considered the head of the organization.
Instead of releasing terrorists who have exhibited health problems, the Colombian government has opted for an alternative measure to secure trust from the FARC: releasing 30 low-level soldiers. El Tiempo notes that none of those released have authority within the group and have not been detained for “grave crimes.”
The government will free ten men and seven women this week, with the rest of the thirty forthcoming, though court officials expect all to be processed and free by the end of January. Among those freed this week will be a number of former bodyguards to higher-level leaders and guerrilleros captured amid terrorist raids on rural towns.
El Tiempo estimates, using FARC statistics, that 1,200 FARC terrorists remain imprisoned in Colombian jails.
The FARC appears to be attempting to force the Colombian government into conceding on a number of fronts as the March 23 deadline for implementing the peace deal brokered in September 2015 approaches. Last week, Márquez warned that the FARC could leave the negotiating table if their demands are not met, and called the March deadline “naive and lightweight.” Government officials nonetheless resumed talks with FARC officials and Raúl Castro later that week
The FARC continues to be active deep in the Andean forests of Colombia. Various studies have found that the FARC have killed at least 220,000 people during their 50-year existence, leaving another 40,000 missing. The Daily Mail notes that Colombia has more displaced persons because of FARC violence than any other nation on earth except Syria.