On the heels of a series of attacks on Colombia’s oil infrastructure this week, Colombia’s government mobilized troops on Wednesday in response to what it reportedly believes is a plan held by the FARC to strike important sites around the country.
“We have intelligence information that… [the FARC] are preparing strikes on emblematic sites in order to say to Colombia and the world that the FARC are alive,” said President Juan Manuel Santos.
In a statement from the President’s office, President Santos said that Colombia will send some 50,000 men after the FARC’s south and eastern blocks.
The government’s mobilization of troops to attack FARC fronts is the latest development in a show of force between both sides of Colombia’s long-running armed-conflict in an effort to demonstrate that the government will not pull back military efforts, nor will the FARC show signs of weakness, as peace talks near the one year mark in Havana, Cuba.
Close to boiling
It is unclear which ‘symbolic sites’ the government expects the FARC to attack. But over the past several days, Colombia’s oil infrastructure has experienced several attacks in the south and eastern regions of the country.
According to a Reuters report, Colombia’s second largest pipeline, the Cano Limon-Covenas, which connects Colombia’s central plains with the Caribbean coast, was bombed 3 times earlier this week.
The Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline transports some 80,000 barrels of oil per day and an attack usually costs millions of dollars in losses. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that a Venezuelan-owned natural gas pipeline was attacked, cutting off 150 million cubic feet of exports to Venezuela, Colombia’s only importer of natural gas.
Police report that they believe the attacks were carried out by FARC guerilla.
Meanwhile in Cuba
In the background of the attacks on Colombia’s infrastructure, President Juan Manuel Santos’ deadline for sealing a peace deal with the leftist rebels is closing in fast. And so are the 2014 presidential elections.
President Santos asked his party this week to consider the idea of postponing or possibly even abandoning the talks in the face of an approaching election. The FARC issued a statement saying they would be willing to see a delay of the peace process as Colombia enters election season in 2014.
Colombia’s peace process started in Norway on October 18th of last year. So far, the government and the FARC have only reached substantial agreement on one matter of the five point agenda: land reform.
Right now both sides are discussing political participation for the FARC. They must also arrive at agreements on rebel disarmament, drug trafficking, and the rights of the victims. And then they must agree on a path for implementation.
- Presidente activa Comando Conjunto para ir tras los bloques Sexto Oriental de las Farc (Presidencia de Colombia)
- Attack on pipeline cuts of gas exports to Venezuela (Reuters)
- Colombia’s No. 2 oil pipeline shut after bomb attacks: Ecopetrol (Reuters)