|Soldiers carry the corpse of one of their companions killed by the FARC in El Cauca this week.|
The soldiers, part of anti-drug trafficking unit, were resting at the time and killed using long-range weapons.
The FARC leaders clearly want the peace talks in Havana to succeed, which is one reason why they declared a unilateral cease fire last December. But this apparently unprovoked ambush imperils the talks' progress. Pres. Santos already ordered a resumption of air attacks on the guerrillas, altho, surprisingly, he did not suspend the peace talks.
|Buenos Aires, in El Cauca Department.|
(Image from Wikipedia)
I can think of only two possible reasons for this action:
One, that the FARC disastrously misread national sentiment following the April 9 pro-peace marches, in which some guerrilla sympathizers called for a bilateral ceasefire. Perhaps the guerrillas hoped that committing an atrocity like this one would motivate more Colombians to support the ceasefire to stop the killing.
Instead, in the same way that Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor even while Japanese-U.S. negotiations were being held rallied Americans behind FDR's declaration of war, these latest killings seems to have only generated more anti-guerrilla anger.
Could the guerrilla leadership have read public sentiment so incorrectly? I doubt it.
The more likely and even more worrying explanation is that the guerrillas have lost control of some of their 'fronts,' whose leaders may aim to sabotage the peace talks. The attack occurred in the municipality of Buenos Aires, in El Cauca Department, located near the Pacific coast and the Ecuadorean border. The region is valuable because of illegal mining and cocaine exportation routes.
Could it be that local FARC leaders, aware that a peace deal would extinguish their huge illicit incomes, have made this their way of trying to kill the talks - in defiance of the guerrillas' top leadership?
If my second hypothesis is correct, it bodes badly for the negotiations, since many local guerrilla leaders have their own motives for wanting to preserve the conflict and its illegal incomes.
If the guerrilla leadership cannot pull those far-flung units into line, then a peace deal may not be merely far away, but impossible.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours