A joint operation between the Colombian Army and the National Police has captured members of various FARC support networks throughout the country.
According to a press release issued by Colombia’s National Police, the operation succeeded in capturing leaders of regional networks, which provided various forms of logistical support to Colombia’s largest rebel group.
The statement alleged that the network assisted the FARC by providing military technology, storing arms, food and medicine, and also exchanging foreign currency to finance the groups illicit activities.
Among the five individuals captured was a man known as “Henry,” who was allegedly the mayor of Lejanias municipality in Meta state between 2008 and 2011.
End of unilateral ceasefire
The raid coincided with the end of a unilateral ceasefire which was announced by the country’s two largest rebel groups nearly two weeks ago.
The ceasefire, declared by the FARC and the ELN, was ostensibly meant as a goodwill gesture by the rebel groups ahead of Colombia’s May 25 presidential elections.
“We [the leaders] order all of our units to cease any offensive military action against the armed forces or economic infrastructure of Colombia,” said FARC Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” in a statement released Wednesday. The unilateral ceasefire, which was not reciprocated on the part of the government, was scheduled to last from May 20 to May 28.
Since peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC began in November 2012, the question of a bilateral ceasefire has been raised repeatedly but never agreed to by the Colombian government.
The FARC and ELN jointly announced on May 16 that they would hold a unilateral ceasefire between May 20 and May 28 as a show of good will to the country and so that May 25′s presidential elections can run without any interference.
Peace talks continue
The FARC has been involved in ongoing peace negotiations with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba since November 2012.
The two sides recently reached an agreement on the topic of drug cultivation and trafficking, the third of six agenda items for the talks.
The next round of talks will move on to the subject of victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict, expected to be one of the more complicated and emotionally charged points on the agenda. An estimated six-million Colombians are direct victims of the fighting between rebels, the country’s military and state-aligned paramilitary groups.
Three previous attempts at peace talks between the government and rebels failed, but the Cuba talks have gone uninterrupted since their inception, despite continued hostilities between rebel and public security forces in Colombia.
The FARC has been fighting the Colombian state since its formation in 1964 in what has become the oldest internal armed conflict in the world. It has been involved in ongoing peace negotiations with the Colombian government since November 2012.
Last Tuesday marked the group’s 50-year anniversary.