A break-away group of Colombia’s FARC guerrilla army demanded a ceasefire from Ecuador on Monday in exchange for the repatriation of three murdered journalists. It also insisted that the Ecuadorian government end a cooperation agreement with Colombia aimed at combatting drug trafficking in southern Colombia and northern Ecuador.
The splinter group, the Oliver Sinnisterra Front, led by ex-FARC commander, alias “El Guacho,” has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of three journalists from the Quito newspaper El Comercio.
In a message delivered to Colombian television and radio stations, the front threatened more harm to Ecuadorian citizens if its demands are not met.
In the message, Guacho urged Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to create a “humanitarian corridor” along the border that would allow for international organizations to pick up the bodies of the journalists.
The Catholic church also offered to assist with the repatriation process, according to Caracol Radio.
In its statement, Sinnisterra claimed it continues to pursue “revolutionary” objectives. “We are guerrillas fighting for Marxist, Leninist and Bolivarian principles. For these ideals we fight and we will continue fighting.”
The rebels warned that if Quito doesn’t agree to the ceasefire, “you are compromising more Ecuadorian nationals,” including “two members of Ecuadorian intelligence” the group claims it captured 15 days ago. Ecuadorian officials say they are not aware of the kidnapping.
Sinnisterra says it is also holding a civilian couple hostage that it abducted in Colombia.
The three Ecuadorians killed — a journalist, a cameraman, and their driver — were allegedly investigating the escalating, drug-fueled tensions in the border region.
Guacho, who was a mid-level commander of the FARC, is said to be in command of up to 500 dissident fighters in Nariño‘s Tumaco municipality in Colombia and the neighboring Esmeraldas province in Ecuador.
According to studies, Tumaco produces almost 15% of Colombia’s coca, the base ingredient for cocaine. The drugs are shipped to Central America from ports in Colombia and Ecuador.
According to Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, Guacho’s group could be generating up to $25 million in drug trafficking revenue a week.
Source: Colombia Reports, https://colombiareports.com