The Farc, revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has blamed two of its own fighters for allowing the military to rescue 15 hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt (photo, from france-info.com), the French-Colombian politician.
On Friday, the group also announced that despite being tricked during last week’s rescue operation, it was still seeking a prisoner exchange deal with Bogota.
“The escape of the 15 prisoners of war last Wednesday, July 2, was the direct result of the despicable conduct of ‘Cesar’ and ‘Enrique’, who betrayed their revolutionary principles and the confidence placed in them”, Farc said in a statement posted on their website.
Cesar and Enrique Gafas, whose legal names are Gerardo Aguilar and Alexander Farfan, boarded the helicopter only to be overpowered and arrested, said Colombian authorities.
Dated July 5 and signed by the organisation’s secretariat, the Farc statement also rejected reports that the group was crumbling from within.
The rescue was just an incident inherent to “any political and military confrontation where there are victories and reversals”, it said.
Military intelligence agents
Eleven suspects, including Cesar and Enrique, have been indicted in Washington in September, on charges of conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organisation. And the two also face charges of hostage-taking and terrorism, and the US is seeking their extradition.
The hostages have been freed by military intelligence agents who posed as aid workers on a mock humanitarian mission that the rebels were told would ferry their hostages by helicopter to another camp, for talks on a prisoner swap.
“By insisting in rescues as the only path, the government should assume all the consequences of its reckless and adventurous decision”, the Farc said in the statement.
700 hostages are still being held by the Farc, said Colombia’s government. It had offered to swap 25 high-value captives for imprisoned fighters, but the July 2 rescue robbed them of their most notable bargaining chips.
The Farc statement is a positive development, according to Mauricio Lizcano, a Colombian congressman and son of rebel-held hostage Oscar Tulio Lizcano.
“The Farc maintain a willingness to reach a humanitarian accord”, he said, adding “it looks like the Farc will not retiliate against those who are still kidnapped.”