BOGOTA – A FARC guerrilla wanted for occupations of towns and attacks on the security forces that left more than 55 people dead, as well as nearly 200 kidnappings, was arrested by Colombian police at a doctor’s office, the National Police said.
Ruben Peña Santacoloma was considered “one of the major criminals in the former joint command of the Eastern Bloc (EMBO)” of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the National Police said in a statement.
Peña Santacoloma was “one of those responsible for the captivity of a group of kidnapped people, including Clara Rojas,” who was the running mate of presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, and Emmanuel, the son she bore from a consensual relationship with a rebel, the National Police said.
The guerrilla led several captives, including Rojas and her son, on the so-called “March of Death” through the jungles of southern Colombia from the Chiribiquete mountains in Caqueta province to Guaviare province.
Peña Santacoloma, who spent more than 20 years in the FARC, participated in the attacks on Mitu, the capital of Vaupes province, and Miraflores, a town in Guaviare, on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, 1998, respectively, the National Police said.
The attacks left 57 civilians and security forces members dead, and 190 other people kidnapped, with some of the captives being held for more than 12 years by the FARC.
Peña Santacoloma, “who also participated in the occupations of Puerto Rico and Puerto Lleras, and was responsible for more than 100 killings, was the subject of arrest warrants for kidnapping, murder of a protected person, terrorism and rebellion,” the National Police said.
The FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964 and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.
Colombian government officials and FARC representatives met in Norway last Thursday to formally inaugurate a peace process aimed at ending nearly five decades of internal strife.
Both parties agreed to hold another preparatory meeting in Cuba on Nov. 5 before initiating the dialogue 10 days later. EFE