Détente Between Government, FARC Ends in Colombia

Détente Between Government, FARC Ends in Colombia

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- Just two months ago, Colombia was buzzing with hope and optimism. A flurry of comminiqués between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group and the hardline president, Álvaro Uribe, suggested that an agreement to exchange prisoners was imminent. Three European countries, France, Spain and Switzerland, acting as peace facilitators, proposed to demilitarize a zone in southwestern Colombia where hostages held by FARC would be swapped for imprisoned guerrillas.

It was hailed as the possible beginning of future peace talks between the country's largest rebel group and the government which had shown a rare glimpse of flexibility and willingness to push ahead with prisoner exchanges. The families of hostages expressed their delight and cautiously started to prepare for the long-awaited arrival of their relatives.

But as history has often dictated in Colombia, this sense of optimism was short-lived. Last Friday, Uribe decided to withdraw his offer of humanitarian prisoner exchanges after a car bomb, attributed to FARC, exploded at a military university in central Bogotá. It is thought that the car bomb, which injured 23 people, was aimed at the country's military elite, including the army's commander, who was at the university when the bomb exploded.

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