Colombia: Santos under fire over peace process

At a Conservative Party conference on the island of San Andres Oct. 16, Colombia's Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordoñez slammed President Juan Manuel Santos for "protecting a terrorist" by failing to arrest FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño AKA "Timochenko." The comments came after press revelations that Timochenko had secretly attended the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerillas in Havana, Cuba. (Colombia Reports, Oct. 17; The City Paper, Bogotá, Oct. 12)

The accusation comes as Santos is already facing criticism over rumors that he is seeking to bring Colombia's second guerilla group, the ELN, into the peace process. In televised comments last week, he refused to either confirm or deny reports that contacts have been established for a dialogue with the ELN. But political analyst and former ELN guerilla León Valencia, said that such a dialogue is in the works, and that Santos has sworn his administration to secrecy on the matter. (AFP, Oct. 13) 

The controversy is deepened by the release of a video in the Colombian media purporting to show ELN militiamen openly patrolling towns in the Valle de Aburrá, where the Medellín metropolitan area is located. (El Colombiano, Oct. 15)

On Oct. 17, the ELN released the ex-governor of Chocó department, Patrocinio Sánchez Montes de Oca, who was held hostage by the guerillas for almost 14 months. The politician was dropped off by his captors on a highway between the Chocó municipalities of Yuto and Lloro near the place he was kidnapped on Aug. 25, 2013. (LAHT, EFE, Oct. 18)

Colombian authorities meanwhile claimed a blow against the right-wing paramilitary network, detaining Mario Alberto Alvárez AKA "Macario," also known as  the "Torturer of Córdoba," who had been wanted for 26 years over his participation in killings ordered by infamous paramilitary leader Fidel Castaño. Macario has already been convicted in absentia in the 1988 slaying of Alfonso Ospina Ospina, a former senator and a cabinet member under the government of president Belisario Betancur. He has also been named in the 1990 Pueblo Bello massacre, in which 43 campesinos were brutally killed at a Córdoba village. The number of slain peasants corresponded to the number of cattle the Castaño brothers, claimed to have lost in supposed rustling by the villagers. (Colombia Reports, El Espectador, Oct. 17)