|Freedom coming? Guerrilla hostages in a jungle pen.|
El Tiempo newspaper opines that Colombians should wait and see whether the guerrillas actually fulfill their new vow. They're right.
It's hard to see the guerrillas truly giving up what is one of their most powerful tools for making headlines and extorting labor, resources and money from Colombian civilians. That's because behind the 'vacuna' which many ranchers and businesses in rural and small town Colombia pay to the guerrillas lies the threat of kidnapping. If that threat really disappeared, one of the guerrillas' big revenue streams could dry up.
|A recent protest against the FARC guerrillas.|
Still, the guerrillas' promise to end kidnapping of civilians and to free more kidnappees is a hopeful sign, if only because it seems to indicate an openness to making concessions in order to open dialogue with the government. But only time will tell whether or not this is a sincere step forward by a group which has caused tremendous damage to Colombia and its people.
|FARC hostages, chained by the neck.|
In any case, nobody should conclude from the guerrillas' renunciation of kidnapping that they have become a humane organization. Kidnapping is only one of the FARC's many human rights violations, which also include planting landmines, recruiting children, driving peasants from their homes and acts which can only be called terrorism, like the recent bombing in the small Pacific coast city of Tumaco. That bomb killed mostly poor, Afro-Colombian civilians - not exactly the country's traditional elite.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours