The top commander of the largest guerrilla army in Colombia on Monday dismissed government criticisms about the rebels’ recent spree of kidnappings and said that “there is no crisis” regarding the ongoing peace talks.
The commander who goes by the alias of “Timochenko” said that negotiations between the FARC and the government continued “in normal mode.” According to the rebel leader, “nobody has walked out or formally threatened to withdraw.” Timochenko also said that despite the recent string of kidnappings of civilians and members of the Colombian security apparatus, the guerrillas had not broken their promise “not to kidnap civilians for financial reasons.”
“To capture members of the security forces in service, does not constitute any type of violation of our public promise to [not take] prisoners for financial reasons,” said Timochenko.
Colombia’s vice president, the country’s minister of defense, and the government’s chief peace negotiator on Thursday and Friday criticized the FARC for the kidnappings and the timing considering that the two sides are trying to broker peace.
Members of the FARC in various parts of the country last week captured two policemen and a soldier, while three civilian engineers were kidnapped on Wednesday in the southern Caqueta department, also by alleged FARC rebels. Guerrillas on Monday allegedly kidnapped two oil workers in the southern Putumayo department.
Regarding the taking of civilians, the rebels have not made a ransom demand nor mentioned that financial motivations played a part in their decision to kidnap Colombian citizens.
The FARC on Monday issued a comunique on its offical website stating the captured members of the security forces would be released as soon as “security guarantees were given.”