Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Colombian Army Captures Commander Karina

FARC suffers several setbacks in less than a year

During a recent public speech President Alvaro Uribe surprised his audience when he declared that “If Karina wants to surrender her life will be spared.” It seems that Uribe knew that one of the main leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was already negotiating with the authorities as to when and where she would turn herself over. It is not clear exactly how Karina was finally arrested after more than twenty years of activity with FARC but the rebel leader was shown to the local press as she entered the headquarters of the IV Army Brigade in Medellin. President Uribe had a personal grudge against Karina since she was involved in the 1993 murder of Uribe´s father.

Karina was shown handcuffed and wearing a black bulletproof vest with the initials D.A.S on the back. The D.A.S is Colombia’s main intelligence agency and played a fundamental role in Karina´s arrest that occurred on May 14 in a small town called La Soledad in western Colombia.
According to the D.A.S, Karina stated that the army had cornered her for several weeks and that her comrades of the 47th front had nothing to eat. Karina has lost an eye during earlier shootouts with the Army and many more scars suffered during her long struggle in the Colombian jungle. Before Karina´s arrest, three other FARC commanders had been killed in separate incidents:

March 7, 2008: Ivan Rios was shot as he was sleeping in a jungle base by Pedro Montoya, his chief bodyguard, that afterwards cut off Rio’s right hand with a machete and surrendered himself to a nearby Army patrol. Montoya presented Rios´ hand as proof that he had killed his superior officer and claimed the US$2.5 million reward offered by the Colombian government.

March 1, 2008: Raul Reyes, FARC´s spokesman, was killed along with 19 other rebels when his base in neighboring Ecuador was destroyed by cluster bombs fired from Colombian Air Force jets. Reyes was the man in charge of negotiating the release of many prisoners and civilian hostages held by FARC in bases deep inside the jungle. This attack also caused a major diplomatic incident between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with the last two countries closing their embassies in Bogota, the Colombian capital.

Sept 3, 2007: In a similar operation as that of Raul Reyes, Tomas Medina (a.k.a Negro Acacio) was also killed during a bomb attack by the Colombian Air Force. According to the Colombian government, Negro Acacio was in charge of collecting taxes from well-known drug traffickers such as Fernandinho Beira Mar, the main trafficker in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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