Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday that the deadly 1996 FARC attack on the Las Delicias military base was in part facilitated by the precarious state of the army at the time of the attack.
Regarding the event, Santos said that the state “did not take the necessary measures to prevent and avoid” the taking of the Las Delicias base, located in southern Colombia’s Putumayo department, but that this was partly a result of the lack of resources at the time, local media reported.
Santos stated that, “In that moment the soldiers used swamp boots, we didn’t have helicopters, we had precariousness in our armed forces. The country hadn’t come to understand the importance of supporting not only with the heart, but also with a budget for the army.”
The head of state nonetheless praised the soldiers themselves for demonstrating “bravery, devotion to their country, integrity, composure” during the attack.
He also praised progress made in the Colombian army since the attack, stating, “that same composure that was later accompanied with more resources, has been what has permitted our nation to recover its territory and liberty, that work has to be continued because we haven’t reached the end, we are close but we haven’t achieved everything.”
On Tuesday, the State Council sentenced the Colombian state to pay a sum of nearly $1 million to family members of three victims of the 1996 attack, in which over 30 army members were killed and 60 people taken hostage, for committing grave errors that allegedly facilitated the attack.