HAVANA (AFP) – The Colombian government and the FARC struck a deal Wednesday to free “as soon as possible” a general and several others the guerrillas are holding captive, suggesting the faltering peace process is back on track.
Some 1,500 troops, 10 helicopters and planes, as well as boats and land vehicles, have been scouring the Choco region for General Ruben Alzate, the highest-ranking military officer to be kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in five decades of conflict.
Alzate, 55, went missing Sunday with Corporal Jorge Rodriguez and army adviser Gloria Urrego as they traveled by boat to visit a civilian energy project in Choco, where the general heads a task force responsible for fighting the rebels and where drug gangs are rife.
The kidnapping caused Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks with the FARC – the most promising effort yet to end Colombia’s 50-year conflict.
But his government and the FARC appeared to have reached a deal Wednesday – the two-year anniversary of the talks.
“The parties have agreed the conditions needed to set free” Alzate and four others, said Cuban diplomat Rodolfo Benitez and Norwegian counterpart Rita Sandberg, whose countries are among the guarantors of the talks in the Cuban capital Havana.