Colombia’s armed forces on Monday backed the government’s position that police and military operations cannot be suspended around the congressional elections on March 14 to facilitate the liberation of FARC hostages Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Josue Daniel Calvo.
Armed forces commander Freddy Padilla said it was neither logical nor convenient to suspend military operations in the days surrounding the elections.
Padilla said the FARC have prolonged the long-awaited liberation and played with release dates, without concern for Moncayo’s and Calvo’s families.
One of the FARC’s conditions for the hostage release is that all military and police operations in the area be suspended.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, in a radio interview on Monday, repeated his belief that the FARC are postponing the hostage release until close to the national elections in order to discredit the government.
Uribe cautioned the Colombian public not to be fooled by the guerrilla organization’s “trickery.”
The Colombian officials were responding to a FARC statement released Monday, which blames the government for the delay in the release.
The Colombian government and the FARC have been quibbling over the details of Moncayo and Calvo’s release since the Marxist insurgent group first announced that it would release the hostages in April 2009.
Moncayo, who is reported to be seriously ill, has been in FARC captivity since 1997, while Calvo has been held since April last year. Both are Colombian soldiers.
In addition to the hostages, the FARC will also release the remains of policeman Julian Guevara, who died in 2006 after eight years in captivity.