Colombia: Kill The Babysitter


January 7, 2008: FARC was more than a little embarrassed when it was discovered that one of the hostages they were offering to release, the three year old son of one of their adult captives (a woman political operative who had been kidnapped in 2002) was found to be living in a foster home in the capital. DNA tests confirmed the child's parentage. FARC had ordered the year old child to be turned over to government welfare authorities in 2005, under a false identity, so that it could get life-saving medical care. Recently, FARC ordered the man who turned the kid in, to retrieve him, and the guy (a poor rural farmer) couldn't. FARC didn't know that the government had sent the baby to the capital for medical care, and then put the kid into foster care. The government then got word of this and quickly found the poor farmer (who now feared being murdered by FARC) and the three year old child. FARC at first denied all this, but then admitted it. This is all part of a larger deal, wherein FARC would release 45 high profile hostages in return for the government releasing 500 FARC members from prison. FARC has long stalled going through with this deal because of their insistence that the government also clear out of a large chunk of the country to provide the rebels with a "neutral zone." The government did this once before and refuses to do it again, because the last time the rebels turned the neutral zone into a sanctuary for kidnappers and drug operations. But the real reason the FARC has not gone through with the prisoner swap is that the top FARC commanders are no longer sure where the 45 hostages are, or who exactly controls them.

The FARC offer to release three hostages as a "good will gesture" fell apart largely because it appears that FARC is suffering from combat fatigue. FARC has been losing its war for the last five years, driven out of areas they had long controlled. FARC has lost even more of the support it had among the population. Over the last two decades, FARC has evolved into a criminal organization, more interested in making money on kidnapping and drugs, than in establishing a communist dictatorship. Their military reverses have resulted in higher desertion rates, and subordinate commanders defecting to set up their own criminal crews. The current fiasco reveals the sorry state of communication and coordination within FARC. This is a defeat on a par with some of the military setbacks the rebels have suffered recently. FARC ally, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was also dismayed that he was unable to depend on FARC.


Article Archive

Colombia: Current 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close