The deaths of Raúl Reyes and Julián Conrado, two senior figures in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), are clearly a serious blow to the guerrilla organisation. It will now call a halt to the release of hostages held by the Farc in the jungle over many years, a process that had been proceeding slowly under the auspices of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Freedom in the short term for the former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, in which the French president Nicolas Sarkozy has taken a personal interest, now seems unlikely, and many people believe that she is dying. Hopes of the imminent release of three US defence contractors have also been dashed.
By all accounts, the midnight attack on the camp of the Farc leaders, a mile inside Ecuadorean territory in the jungle region south of the Putumayo river, was a political decision taken by the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, to end the peace process orchestrated by Chávez. Four Colombian politicians, held as hostages by the Farc for the past six years, were released last week and given a royal welcome in Caracas. Reyes had been among those who organised their freedom. Killed at the age of 59, Reyes had long been more of a diplomat than a guerrilla commander, though he was often photographed in military fatigues and carrying a gun.
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