Colombia and Rebels Agree to Talks
CARACAS, Venezuela — After the release of an army general captured by rebel fighters, the government of Colombia and the country’s largest guerrilla group said on Wednesday that they would soon resume peace talks.
“We consider the crisis overcome,” the negotiators for the government and the guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in a joint statement.
The statement said that talks would resume in Havana next Wednesday and would focus on the “de-escalation of the conflict with the goal of reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”
The crisis unfolded after the general, Rubén Darío Alzate, and two companions were captured by guerrillas on Nov. 16. President Juan Manuel Santos immediately suspended the talks and demanded that the captives be released.
The FARC freed the general and the two others, an army lawyer and a corporal, on Sunday.
The negotiators for both sides met this week in Havana, clearing the way for Wednesday’s agreement.
The talks have advanced much further than previous efforts to end the country’s brutal internal conflict, which began in the 1960s.
The two sides have reached preliminary agreement on several issues, including rural development, combating drug trafficking and the participation of former guerrillas in the political process. Yet many hurdles remain.
After his release, General Alzate said at a news conference that he was resigning from the army. He had recently been named to lead a task force in the Chocó department of northwestern Colombia, a hot zone for rebels and drug traffickers.
At the news conference, General Alzate said that on the day he was captured, he had hoped to visit a community in Chocó, and had wanted to keep a low profile to avoid notice by guerrilla forces and overcome local distrust of the military. So he traveled unarmed, in civilian clothes and without an escort.
Relayé par: Laura Cardenas