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 We’re announcing that from now the practice will cease and that said part of Law 002…has therefore been repealed.”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.