The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a 50-year-old terrorist group in South America, has been working hard from its safe haven in Havana to change its image as cold-blooded criminals. But while its rap videos indicate a thirst for peace, its latest action – the kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl – belies its new image.
Colombian authorities announced the kidnapping of Alejandra Cantoñi on Thursday. Police noted that the girl was “intercepted by strangers who put her into a vehicle when she was traveling to school with two companions.” Police confirmed she was kidnapped by FARC terrorists for “extortion” purposes. She is the daughter of a local police chief.
Her mother, Sandra Cantoñi, used social media to get the message out about her daughter, telling the media, “I only want my daughter to return healthy and for them not to involve children in this war that leads nowhere. Don’t traumatize her or damage her psychologically.” The Cantoñi family received the support of both President Juan Manuel Santos and former president Álvaro Uribe on Twitter, as well as the support of many anti-FARC individuals online.
Late Thursday night, Colombian officials announced that an indigenous Colombian guard had found the girl and taken her from captivity, and was en route to deliver the girl to her parents, according to Colombian Radio Caracol. “Thanks to God, pressure from the Public Forces and the community, the girl Alejandra Cantoñi is free. We are investigating suspects,” President Santos announced.
While the Colombia government has been in talks with the Marxist guerrilla’s leadership in Havana to end violence in Colombia, the FARC have been resistant to concluding any of their criminal activities. Kidnapping, in particular, is a threat to Colombia’s civilian population. Colombia reported 292 cases of kidnapping in 2013, despite the FARC promising a cessation on the activity. The FARC had also promised a complete ceasefire during the first round of presidential elections last week – a promise they almost immediately broke, with authorities foiling a number of attempting plots and uncovering explosive devices collected by FARC agents.
Despite the terrorist organization’s continued resort to violence, it has been attempting to market itself as a group of peaceful leftist protesters. The group organized a 50th anniversary block party in Caracas, Venezuela, where the socialist government permits them to operate, in which organizers promised safety from law enforcement. They also released the aforementioned rap video with notorious Dutch terrorist Tanja Nijmeijer and Cuban communist rap group Cuentas Claras.