Prisoner Release Delayed

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 6 February 2012

The unilateral liberation of 6 prisoners being held by FARC guerrillas has been delayed. According to a guerrilla communiqué, the delay is thanks to the “unjustifiably militarised” presence in the area designated for the release. The delay has been roundly condemned in the Colombian media, while the Minister of Defence, Juan Carlos Pinzon has stated that there is “no justification whatsoever” for the delay.

The planned liberation was coordinated by Colombians for Peace, who had sent the proposed security protocols to the Red Cross. However, a stumbling block remained in a lack of trust between government and guerrillas - the FARC refused to release the troops to government helicopters, and the government refused to allow a friendly government (Brazil) to provide the helicopters as they had done in previous releases.

During past releases government forces have bombed guerrillas close to release areas, and in 2008 government forces also used Red Cross insignia on helicopters during a military operation against the FARC. In their 1st February communiqué the FARC state that they had received information from “military patriots” that the government was planning a military rescue “at all costs.” The guerrillas point out that this is what occurred during the previous unilateral release on November 26th, when guerrillas executed 4 prisoners who were being moved to a release area.

According to Carlos Lozano, a member of Colombians for Peace “the obstacle is logistical, because the government vetoes the participation of Brazil and the real problem is that the FARC don’t trust the Colombian government.” This is precisely why Colombians for Peace had proposed the participation of a ‘friendly government’ in the release.

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