With the recent capture of Colombian General Alzate grabbing international headlines, we give you a run-down of events as they have unfolded over the past two weeks
Nov 16: General Ruben Dario Alzate becomes the highest ranking army officer to be taken hostage during Colombia’s five decades of conflict. Two others were taken captive with Alzate, who was captured not far from Quibdo, the departmental capital of Choco.
Nov 17: President Juan Manuel Santos suspends peace talks with FARC and demands the safe release of the hostages. Colombian authorities begin a massive man-hunt for Gen. Alzate. Santos also seeks an explanation from Colombian Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon as to what Alzate was doing in civilian attire without an escort in a known guerrilla hot-zone.
Nov 22: Santos reveals on Twitter that the five hostages (Alzate’s group and two soldiers captured in a separate incident in Arauca) will be released “over the course of next week.” The Ministry of Defence releases a statement claiming that FARC has provided the rescue coordinates for the two soldiers.
Nov 23: FARC threatens to cancel Alzate’s release, and that of the other hostages, as a result of the strong military presence in the area where they are being kept captive.
Nov 25: FARC releases two soldiers held hostage since November 9, the first step in a deal designed to restart peace talks with the government. Soldiers Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Diaz were captured in Arauca department. The FARC calls for military operations to be suspended in Choco where Alzate is currently being held in order for the general and the other two hostages to be freed.
Nov 26: President Santos orders halt to all military operations in Choco, in anticipation of General Alzate’s release.
Nov 27: FARC guerrillas announce they will hand over the general to the International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday, November 30. It remains unclear if they also plan to free Alzate’s two companions.