Colombia’s FARC guerrillas on Sunday freed army General Ruben Dario Alzate, who was captured two weeks ago. But, president Juan Manuel Santos refused to budge on their calls for a ceasefire. Two weeks after sending the peace process into crisis by capturing Brigadier General Ruben Alzate, their highest-ranking captive in 50 years of conflict, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia handed him and two other army captives over to the Red Cross in the jungle-covered department of Choco. Alzate, 55, heads a task force charged with fighting the rebels and drug traffickers rife in Choco, a remote western department that is Colombia’s poorest.
Freed… in perfect condition.
Tweet by President Juan Manuel Santos
The move paves the way for the two sides to resume the two-year-old talks in the Cuban capital Havana, the most promising bid yet to end the conflict. But no sooner had Alzate been freed than the FARC and Santos were at loggerheads again over the issue of a ceasefire. Santos has repeatedly refused to consider a bilateral ceasefire without a peace agreement, on grounds that the rebels would use it to regroup, lengthening the war.
The time has come for a bilateral ceasefire, or an armistice, so that no act of war in the fields of battle can be used to justify the interruption.