A delegation from the Colombian government is traveling to Havana Monday in hopes of reviving peace talks that stalled amid the capture of one of its top generals. The Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group returned the general Sunday, and hopes are high the talks will begin again after a tense period of uncertainty over the two-year peace process.
President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the Cuba trip Monday, saying the delegation would stay in Cuba for two days for a “cold and objective evaluation of where we are, where we are going and [how] we can continue” with the peace talks.
Negotiations between Colombia’s government and FARC rebels seek to resolve a violent 50-year conflict between both sides and have been ongoing since 2012. But the process hit a major snag on Nov. 16 when General Rubén Darío Alzate, a military captain and also an attorney were all three found in conflict territory. Alzate was dressed in civilian clothes, prompting FARC accusations of a security breach. The general was the highest-ranking officer ever captured by the FARC, and Santos suspended the peace talks following the incident.
The rebels, who had pushed for a bilateral cease-fire, argued that military operations should not be used as a justification for interrupting the peace process and criticized the suspension. FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño released a statement last week saying Santos violated a general agreement between the two sides by halting the talks, and said the suspension destroyed confidence in the talks. But Santos said he would not consider restarting talks until the hostages were freed, and said that a cease-fire would allow the talks to drag on without a clear ending in sight.
The rebels released all three captives Sunday with the help of Cuban and Norwegian diplomats, a week after FARC released two other soldiers who had been captured earlier in November. Santos tweeted Sunday’s release, saying the three captives were freed in “perfect condition.”
Liberados BG Alzate, abogada Urrego y cabo Rodriguez en perfectas condiciones y esperando condiciones climáticas para regreso a sus familias
â€” Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) November 30, 2014