A roundup of FARC:
A member of a Colombian terrorist group was sentenced Tuesday to 27 years in prison for his role in a 2003 hostage-taking of three American Defense department contractors.
Diego Alfonso Navarrete Beltrán, 43 years old, was the third leader of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias Colombianas (FARC) convicted in the hostage taking of Marc D. Gonsalves, Thomas R. Howes and Keith Stansell, employees of a Northrop Grumman Corp.subsidiary. The men, along with fellow American Thomas Janis and Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz of the Colombian military, were captured when their antidrug surveillance plane went down in FARC-held territory in 2003. Messrs. Gonsalves, Howes and Stansell were rescued in 2008, after 1,967 days in captivity, along with other hostages, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
The coca boom comes at an especially sensitive time for the Colombian government, which is in the final stages of peace negotiations with leftist FARC rebels, who have long profited from the illegal drug trade. Last month the government halted aerial spraying of the crop, citing concerns that the herbicides used may cause cancer. That program had been a pillar of Plan Colombia, under which the United States has provided more than $9 billion to this country since 2000.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a key U.S. ally, said his administration is ready to launch a massive crop substitution campaign if a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is reached and areas under rebel control become safe enough for government workers. The guerrillas and the government have already agreed in principle on a sweeping new development plan for Colombia’s struggling rural areas, with the FARC pledging to help persuade farmers to rip out their coca in favor of lawful crops.
U.S. and Colombian officials say the biggest reason for the current bumper crop is that the FARC, along with other armed groups, has encouraged farmers to plant more coca in anticipation of the peace deal and the new government aid.
The leader of Colombia’s largest armed rebel group, the Farc, has said he ordered the organisation in September to stop buying guns and ammunition.
“The resources allocated to military aid should be redirected in their entirety to the fund” to end the conflict, according to a statement read by Lucas Carvajal, a FARC peace delegation member. The statement also called upon Colombian President Juan Manual Santos to “redefine the current structure of public expenditure…in particular, the spending on security and defense.”
“In the name of peace, narco-terrorism again takes over Colombia, all the lost effort and the risking of so much blood to disassemble it!”
En nombre de la paz el narcoterrorismo se toma de nuevo a Colombia, todo el esfuerzo perdido y el riesgo de cuánta sangre para desmontarlo!
— Álvaro Uribe Vélez (@AlvaroUribeVel) November 11, 2015