An unidentified armed group on Monday allegedly kidnapped six individuals, including the father of a local mayor, in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca department.
According to radio station Caracol, one of the kidnapped people is the father of Mayor Jorge Octavio Guzman, of Vega municipality. The mayor’s father, Cesar Octavio Guzman, was intercepted by armed criminals while travelling on a road south of Cauca’s capital of Popayan. Radio station RCN reported six people, including one minor, were kidnapped.
On Tuesday morning the armed forces began search and rescue operations to find the group. According to Colonel Elias Piraquive of the Army’s 29th Brigade, a “multiple kidnapping” took place in the Vega municipality on Monday night. The colonel said a number of kidnap victims had already been released on Tuesday.
A spokesperson from the army’s Third Division confirmed to Colombia Reports that the mayor’s father had been kidnapped in the Vega municipality.
According to information from Colombia’s national police, five of the kidnap victims were released on Tuesday. The mayor’s father, however, remained missing.
In 2009, a total of 203 kidnappings were registered in Colombia, a low figure compared to previous years. By 2012, this had increased to 305. According to statistics from the anti-kidnapping NGO Pais Libre, most kidnappings in the country are perpetrated by common criminals, not left-wing rebels. Between 2003 and 2012, 34.6% of all kidnappings were committed by common criminals.
For their part, the FARC rebel group were the second largest perpetrators during the time period, accounting for 24.7% of kidnappings.
Colombia’s largest and oldest insurgency vowed to end the practice of kidnapping civilians for financial reasons in May 2012. However, as demonstrated by the FARC’s capture of five members of the armed forces in January 2013, the organization’s leadership said it would continue to take “prisoners of war.” Furthermore, alleged rifts have appeared in the rebel ranks in regard to kidnapping, with FARC commander “Pablo Catatumbo” saying in May 2012 that kidnapping was necessary as “the war need[ed] finances.” However, prominent FARC leader “Ivan Marquez” said kidnapping would end all together.
The smaller rebel group ELN, unlike the FARC, has continued to kidnap civilians. Most recently, ELN kidnapped five civilian miners in the northern Bolivar department in January of this year. One Canadian citizen, the vice-CEO of the exploration branch of the Canadian Braeval mining company, is still being held by the rebels.
- Communication with the army’s Third Division
- Secuestran al padre de un alcalde en el Cauca (Caracol Radio)
- Secuestran a seis personas en el sur del Cauca (RCN Radio)
- Fisuras en las Farc (Semana)
- Kidnappings Plummet as Colombia’s Conflict Changes (InSight Crime)
- Confusión por supuesto secuestro masivo en La Vega, sur del Cauca (El Pais, Cali)