Colombia’s left-wing group FARC today announced on its website that it will shortly release ten police and military prisoners, who have been captive for around ten years.
The group has also announced that it will abandon its decades-long policy of economic kidnappings. In what the group name the “Ley 002,” hundreds of hostages are held captive as a means of extortion in order to fund FARC’s conflict with the Colombian government.
The group said “Much has been said about the kidnapping of civilians for financial goals, which we, the Farc carry out to finance our struggle.” The statement continues to say that the “law” will be repealed.
The announcement comes three months after FARC killed four hostages that it had held captive for more than ten years. Widespread protests followed throughout Colombia against the rebels.
Many critics are suggesting that the move may be a sign that the group is seeking some sort of peace negotiation. Meanwhile, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has responded via Twitter, saying that the move is an “important and necessary step in the right direction” but that it is “insufficient.”
The president has refused peace talks with the group unless the group frees all captives, ends its kidnappings of civilians and ends all attacks on civilian and military targets. The president has been active in fighting FARC, having last year killed the group’s leader, Alfonso Cano.
FARC is the oldest armed group in Latin America. It was created in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda and a group of peasants, who had fled into the Colombian mountains to fight a war known as “La Violencia.” The group, financed by drug trafficking, has been cut down in size recently, but still remains a strong force of conflict, stripping as much of 1% of Colombia’s economy annually.