An officer from the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Herledy López Hernández, was freed this past July 4th at 10 pm, after being kidnapped for 62 days, since May 3rd, by FARC dissidents in the Guaviare department of Colombia. He declared that his captors identified themselves as the “FARC first front”.
Herledy López never knew the reason for his capture and indicated that the UN would later issue a press release explaining the facts. He added that during the two months he was kidnapped, Colombia’s military forces were “treading on their heels”, forcing them to constantly move. The U.N. officer said he was constantly being watched by between 9 to 15 people but, in spite of his condition, he was relatively fairly treated.
The High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo stated that the liberation of Herledy López was a good sign, meaning that these dissidents could be close to realizing that this was the moment for peace and not to interfere with the process.
The FARC’s first front contains some of the terrorist group’s fiercest fighters and is led by Miguel Botache Santillana, aka Gentil Duarte. Duarte has refused to accept the terms of the agreement offered to FARC guerrillas by the Colombian government, and has continued with illegal activities in Guaviare, a Colombian province rich in cocaine.
Most analysts suspect that FARC dissidents from the 1st, 7th, 14th and 44th fronts have not surrendered simply because it is not profitable to do so. The groups have been able to make millions in cocaine trafficking and have generally not been involved with clashes in recent months.