Police officer taken hostage by coca farmers in Colombia’s Meta province
Several days ago, police began a process of forced eradication of coca plantations in “La Macarena” National Park. As the eradications have continued, confrontations with local farmers have become more frequent.
During one of these eradication operations in “El Danubio”, a former conflict zone in the Puerto Rico section within the province of Meta, a police officer in charge of the eradications was taken as a hostage by local farmers armed with sticks and machetes, while five other police officers were injured from an explosion. The police have indicated that members of FARC’s 7th front were among the dissidents who infiltrated the farmers and instigated the confrontation.
Locals argued that, under the terms of the country’s recent peace agreement with the FARC, eradication should take place under a voluntary substition plan rather than a forced eradication. The farmers demanded that the government leave and provide access to the voluntary substitution program in exchange for releasing the police officer. Still, police commented that they would not leave and that would wait for the Department of Protection of Citizen’s Rights to conduct release negotiations.
While the FARC signed the historic peace accord with the Colombian government at the end of 2016, many members of the terrorist group have refused to participate. Among those are the 1st, 7th, 14th and 44th Fronts, led by Gentil Duarte.