President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered a suspension of military operations in the coastal region of Choco and confirmed that General Rubio Dario Alzate, held by the FARC since November 16, will be released this Saturday.
President Santos announced the release of the general and his companions after it was reported that both the government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had received the coordinates of their location, according to the Colombian weekly Semana.
The military has reportedly halted military operations in the coastal state of Choco, as well as the more southern Valle de Cauca and Cauca states, in order to facilitate the general’s release, according to Blu Radio.
“With suspended military operations suspended, we can guarantee that we are not doing anything that could affect the liberation of those kidnapped. What I mean to say is that we are not carrying out any operations in the territory within our jurisdiction that could affect the liberation operations,” an admiral in the Pacific Naval Force told Blue Radio.
After confirming that the military had the coordinates of the general, the FARC described the suspension of military operations as an “indispensable condition so that our people can approach the location of the new liberation,” in a communique published just after Santos’ announcement.
The FARC have complained about ongoing military operations being carried out by the army, saying that they have complicated release of the general.
“The Atrato area and its surroundings have been taken militarily by troops and bombings, overflights of intelligence aircrafts and the establishment of measures that restrict the movement of civilians, mainly composed of indigenous and Afro communities. These communities have been virtually besieged by the army,” the FARC wrote on its website over the weekend.
As recently reported by Colombia’s Radio Sante Fe, the ICRC has said it is only waiting for the necessary security conditions in Choco in order to carry out the humanitarian prisoner release operation.
Residents of the western region of Choco have also denounced army operations, saying they have created a food crisis for local communities, according to website Verdad Abierta.
The military has denied it is carrying out any military operations in the area, calling its actions routine “surveillance.”
Adding to the tensions in the region is the strike being enforced by the guerrilla group ELN which has demanded that all public transportation in and out of Choco cease.
The announcement of the agreement between the FARC and the government to hand over the general and his companions was made by the member of the Delegation of Guarantors of Norway at a press conference last week in Havana, Cuba where the talks are held.
“The necessary conditions for the liberation of the following persons have been agreed by the parties,” said the Norwegian guarantor Rita Santberg.
- CICR ya tiene las coordenadas de la entrega del general (Semana)
- Presidente Santos dice que ya tiene las coordenadas para la liberación del general Alzate (RCN Radio)
- Armada confirma suspensión de operaciones por liberación del general Alzate (Blu Radio)
- Presidente anuncia que el próximo sábado serán liberados el general Alzate y sus acompañantes (President’s Office)
- Denuncian confinamiento en Chocó (Verdad Abierta)
- Comienza cuenta regresiva para la liberación del General Alzáte y otros dos secuestrados por las Farc en Chocó (Radio Santa Fe)