Kidnapping goes out of fashion in the Colombian jungle

Continuing with my theme of the topsy-turvy “Alice in Wonderland” world in which we sometimes find ourselves, I am delighted to note that one of the leading proponents of kidnap for ransom has announced that it is to cease this criminal (and extremely inhumane) practice.  The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (better known as FARC) have said that they will free the ten members of the armed forces that they have held hostage for more than a decade (although no mention was made of their civilian hostages, whose number is uncertain but is believed to be more than a hundred), and will no longer indulge in kidnap for ransom.  According to a statement from the FARC Secretariat: “Much has been said about the kidnapping of civilians for financial goals, which we, the FARC, carry out to finance our struggle.  We’re announcing that from now the practice will cease and that said part of Law 002…has therefore been repealed.”  Stand by your flamingo croquet mallet: Law 002 is a FARC-issued decree that sanctions kidnap for ransom.

The reason for the FARC’s change of policy?  They are losing public sympathy.  In December 2011, tens of thousands of Colombians took part in rallies across the country demanding an end to kidnappings.  And in February 2012, relatives of the kidnapped took part in a 110-hour marathon radio programme demanding the release of their loved ones.  So it seems that even terrorists like to be loved.

My concern is this: if FARC are getting out of the lucrative kidnap business, where will they get their money?  Their other main source of income is drug trafficking, which is not at all a problem in Colombia, oh no, not at all.


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4 Responses to Kidnapping goes out of fashion in the Colombian jungle

  1. Claire says:

    It’s an article on the Columbian drug trafficking that put us in contact. Sadly money will never go out of fashion… Yesterday I shared the Dalai Lama’s most recent quote on Facebook: “In today’s materialistic world there is a risk of people becoming slaves to money, as though they were simply cogs in a huge money-making machine. This does nothing for human dignity, freedom, and genuine well-being. Wealth should serve humanity, and not the other way around.” Well, sigh.

  2. What a good memory you have, Claire – and I should explain to others that Claire sadly has close experience of professional money laundering. She has battled long and hard to protect other members of her family from this business, hence her understanding of the misery it brings to everyone it touches. “Slaves to money” is absolutely right.
    Best wishes from Susan

  3. Money Jihad says:

    I wonder if insurance companies stopped paying ransom claims or something to have prompted this decision by the FARC…

  4. I hadn’t thought of that – could well be. The FARC are spinning it as a moral decision, but it could easily be a financial one, with the risk/reward calculation changing. In an article in the Economist dated 3 March 2012 ( “Ending kidnapping may be a practical necessity. Government pressure has reduced the FARC from 20,000 troops in 2002 to about 8,000, operating in smaller, more agile units in rural backwaters, making the taking and holding of hostages more difficult. Kidnapping and extortion now account for only around 30% of the FARC’s revenue, reckons Arco Iris, a think-tank in Bogotá. The rest comes from drug trafficking and from taxing illegal gold miners. But Alfredo Rangel, a security analyst, says that without the threat of kidnapping the FARC may resort to sabotage and bombings against companies and individuals who refuse to pay protection money.”

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