Yesterday, the FARC released ten non-civilian hostages it had held for up to 14 years, fulfilling the promise they promised to keep even after the Colombian government killed 33 rebels a couple of weeks ago. The release of the final military and police hostages, in the wake of the murders or deaths in recent years of FARC leaders Jose “Mincho” Neftali, Raul Reyes, Manuel Marulanda, Mono Jojoy, and Alfonso Cano, has some reports and diplomats talking about the possibility of peace talks to end the conflict in Colombia. However, this seems to me to be the key passage from this article on the hostage release:
Many analysts said the two sides were still far from achieving the mutual trust that would allow meaningful progress toward ending the conflict.
To engage in the type of predictions that historians aren’t always comfortable with (even if these are qualified, half-conjectures)…I have to agree. Among other things, the FARC continues to attack military bases, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected peace talks, and FARC allies like the ELN have only promised to end violence based on conditions the government and industry are unlikely to meet. Given all that, while the release of hostages is excellent news for the individuals and their families, I suspect the end of the now-48-year-old civil war is a long way off.
This isn’t the first time FARC tactics or rhetoric have changed significantly. But the turn of events over the last twelve months have made the situation interesting, and I suppose the turnover could be a part of a period that in hindsight could conceivably be a turning point in the struggle. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s definitely something worth continuing to watch, if for no other reason than to see what path the civil conflict takes next.