Colombia: FARC escalate attacks, indigenous pueblos caught in middle —again

Colombia’s armed forces are scouring the country’s southwest region in the hopes of capturing FARC guerrilla leaders following a of audacious and deadly attacks. President Juan Manuel Santos called the FARC “hypocrites” playing a “double game” for committing “terrorist acts” weeks after raising the prospect of peace talks. Following a security council meeting in the Pacific coast town of Tumaco—where a bomb planted in a tricycle killed nine people and wounded 76 outside a police station on Feb. 2—Santos said such violence “rejects everyone and it moves us away from any possibility of peace.” A 3-year-old girl, a 19-year-old woman and a police commander were among the six people killed in in another Feb. 2 attack, on a police post in the town of Villa Rica, Cauca department. Santos offered a reward of $668,000 for the capture of FARC commander “Rambo,” believed to be responsible for the new attacks.

Days before the attacks, FARC commander “Timochenko” told Santos: “We are interested in trying a hypothetical negotiation table. In front of the country.” Santos has reiterated many times that no negotiations will be considered until the FARC releases all its hostages. (Colombia Reports, WSJ, Feb. 3)

A Jan. 21 attack by the FARC on a radar installation at Cerro Santana, Cauca, temporarily grounded flights in the nation’s south. Some 100 guerillas launched homemade missiles and gas-cylinder bombs at the mountaintop installation, killing a police officer standing guard. Repairs on the radar will take several months, the civil aviation authority, said. (Reuters, Jan. 22; BBC News, Jan. 21)

The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), meeting Jan. 25 at the resguardo (indigenous reserve) of Jambaló, issued a statement protesting the slayings of indigenous residents by armed actors in the past weeks. The statement especially noted the killings of residents Milciades Trochez of Jambaló and Clara Chocue of Cxha Yu’c Fiw de Cajibio resguardo. The statement did not say if they had been killed by gueriilas or government forces. The statement said Cauca’s indigenous peoples will not collaborate with any armed actors, and reiterated CRIC’s position: “End the war, defend autonomy, reconstruct civil goods, build peace.” (CRIC, Jan. 30)

See our last post on Colombia and the FARC.

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