Colombia’s Army reclaims strategic Cañón de Micay from FARC dissidents

The Colombia Army hoists the tricolor over the Micay Canyon in the department of Cauca. Photo: Ejercito.

After a decisive military campaign in southwestern Colombia, the country’s security forces have retaken the Cañón de Micay from the control of FARC dissidents. The military operation that lasted several weeks and was accompanied by the clearing of this mountainous region of anti-personnel mines has been heralded by President Petro as among “the most important in recent history.” During the military offensive, nine camps under control of FARC dissidents were seized by the army, and the Colombian flag raised over the rugged terrain.

As the Colombian military claimed an important victory in the department of Cauca, and a strategic corridor for the transport of cocaine from the interior of the country to ports along the Pacific coast, representatives of the Colombian Government and FARC dissidents of the Estado Central Mayor made an initial approach towards starting talks as part of President Petro’s “national reconciliation” policy. Other illegal armed groups operating in the canyon include the National Liberation Army (ELN), and paramilitary groups “Los Rastrojos” and “Águilas negras”. With the 2016 peace accord with FARC, the region experienced a “momentary period of calm,” claims Guillermo Mosquera, a community leader from Argelia. “We assumed peace with illusion and hope,” he said.

According to the representative of the Farmers and Workers Association of Argelia, an estimated six tons of cocaine move through this valley every month, and part of the extensive export network in illegal narcotics of the fronts 30 and “Guerrillas United for the Pacific” of FARC dissidents. “They call themselves guerrillas to murder, torture and disappear persons,” stated Mosquera to the rural network Prensa Rural.

With the Colombian flag hoisted over an area that includes four townships – Argelia, El Tambo, López del Micay, Timbiquí – FARC dissidents killed two members of the Colombian National Police near Puerto Lleras, Meta. The policemen were on patrol when members of the guerrilla launched a grenade at the official vehicle. The assassination of the two policemen has once again unleashed a wave of criticism at Minister of Defense Iván Velásquez, and the objectives of Petro’s “national reconciliation” policy. “We are the world power in death,” stated right-wing Senator María Fernanda Cabal as gruesome images of the attack circulated on the social media platform “X” (formerly Twitter).

“The same people (FARC dissidents) who talk about peace and a ceasefire, do not stop killing,” remarked Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, governor of the department of Meta. Colombia’s High Peace Commissioner also condemned the attack, highlighting that “actions of this type are useless in achieving political objectives, and only close spaces for dialogue and a public that demands gestures of peace.”