Valle del Cauca Deputies hostage crisis ( ) refers
to the kidnapping of 12 Deputies of the Valle del Cauca Department,
Colombia, on April
12, 2002 by members of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) to pressure a prisoner exhange
between them and the government and to negotiate the
demilitarization of the municipalities of Florida and Pradera to initiate
Victims of the Valle del Cauca
deputies hostage crisis, 2007
After a series of "proof of life" videos, on June 28, 2007 the FARC
suddenly reported the death of 11 of the 12 kidnapped provincial
deputies from Valle del Cauca
. The Colombian
accused the FARC of executing the hostages and
stated that government forces had not made any rescue attempts.
FARC claimed that the deaths occurred during a crossfire, after an
attack to one of its camps by an "unidentified military group".
FARC did not report any other casualties on either side. When
Sigifredo Lopez, the only surviving deputy, was released on
February 5, 2009, he confirmed that his colleagues were killed when
the FARC mistook approaching colleagues for Colombian Army troops.
He managed to survive because he was separated from his colleagues
at the time as punishment for arguing with a guard. 
FARC stated that their organization was willing to return the
bodies to their families. The International Committee
of the Red Cross
was allowed to intervene by the guerrillas and
the Colombian government. The efforts of the Red Cross recovery
team were delayed due to difficult weather and terrain conditions
upon arriving to the pick up area on September 5, 2007. The
Colombian newspaper El
speculated that the FARC also intended to give
up the body of an alleged mercenary of the "unidentified military
group" to prove their claims about an attack by such forces.
September 9, the ICRC announced that it
had recovered 11 bodies and would fly them to the city of Cali.
The FARC trained its guerrillas to act and dress as the military of
Colombia to mislead civilians, politicians and members of the
. On April 11, 2002, the
FARC mobilized its guerrillas to the Valle del Cauca Department
Assembly in Cali riding in a
bus and a truck.
At 10:45 AM the guerrilla commando stormed
the building dressed up as members of the Armed Forces of Colombia
and alerting people in the building that there was a bomb
The FARC ordered the 12 deputies out of the building and board the
bus, while other guerrillas stabbed with knives members of the
Colombian National Police who noted the false operation. One of the
policemen died as a consequence of the stabbing. While on the road
the 12 deputies were then informed that they had been kidnapped by
the FARC to serve as aces in a possible prisoner exchange with the
- April 11: The elite unit of the FARC
Column Arturo Ruiz" kidnapped 12 deputies in Cali from the
Building of the Valle del Cauca Department Assembly.
- August 28: The FARC released the first
evidence that the hostages were still alive.
- November 15: After three months in
office, President Álvaro Uribe
proposed freeing and sending captured guerrillas overseas if they
released all hostages.
- December 3: FARC asked the government
to demilitarize 115,000 km² in the Departments of Putumayo and Caqueta to negotiate an exchange of
- December 27: FARC showed second
survival video prove.
- April 28: FARC designated commanders
Fabián Ramírez, Carlos Antonio Lozada and Felipe Rincón as negotiators for a
- January 24: FARC released a third
video of the hostages.
- July 23: Uribe offered to free 50
guerrilla combatants so that FARC would free the hostages. The
initiative is supported by the French and Swiss governments.
- September 14:
FARC changed its proposal suggesting this time to demilitarize the
municipalities of Cartagena del Chairá and San Vicente del Caguán, in Caquetá
- October 25: FARC released a fourth
video of the hostages, most of it with messages for family
- December 13: The
governments of France, Spain and Switzerland proposed both FARC and
government of Colombia the demilitarization of 180 km² in the
corregimiento of El Retiro, municipality of
Florida to negotiate the prisoner exchange
- December 15: Uribe accepted the
offer made by Spain, France and Switzerland.
- January 2: FARC exclaimed that a
prisoner exchange with the Uribe administration would be "very
- January 26:
Minister of France Philippe Douste-Blazy met with the
Colombian government in Bogotá to explore
different ways to achieve the prisoner exchange.
- October 19 and October 20: A car bomb
exploded in a military installation causing no casualties. Uribe
blamed the FARC and cancelled the offer to negotiate the exchange
of guerrilla inmates for the hostages. Uribe then ordered a
military operation to rescue the hostages.
- April 27: FARC released a fifth video
of the hostages and the last one showing 11 of them alive. In the
video the hostages asked Uribe for the demilitarization of Florida
and Pradera municipalities.
- May 25: Uribe announced a massive freedom
of guerrilla inmates alleging "Reasons of State" including the
notorious "FARC guerrilla chancellor" Rodrigo Granda. On June
4 it became known that the liberation of Granda was agreed upon
a petition by French President Nicolas
- June 28: FARC announced the death of 11
of the 12 deputies in a "crossfire" with unknown forces. The only
hostage survivor was deputy Sigifredo López who for security
reasons was traveling with another group of guerrillas.
- September 9: The Red Cross
announced, after arriving in an undisclosed area using co-ordinates
provided by FARC, that it had recovered 11 bodies and was returning
them by helicopter to the city of Cali for identification and
After the kidnapping the government initiated military operations
in the area.
Execution "was a mistake"
According to email conversations between guerrillas, found on
computers of deceased FARC-commander Raúl Reyes
and quoted by several Colombian
media, the murder of eleven of the abductees was "a mistake".
According to one e-mail, the guards of the hostages executed the
deputies when they mistook approaching fellow FARC-rebels for
rebels of the National
(ELN). “A big mistake that will cause us a lot
of trouble,” the e-mail says. FARC-commander 'Alfonso Cano
' then allegedly ordered his troops
to draw attention of military forces, so "the enemy" could be
blamed for the killings.
On December 25, 2007 a female deserter from the FARC who was at one
point guarding the hostages along with nine other guerrillas. Her
mission in late 2005 consisted on guarding three of the hostages
until they were relieved by commander 'Ezequiel', from the 'Daniel
Aldana' guerrilla column.
Alleged involvement drugs trafficker
Colombian television station RCN
reported on May
21, 2008, the whole kidnapping operation was masterminded and
financed by drug trafficker Wilson Figueroa Ordóñez, alias 'W'. The
country's prosecution would be investigating Ordóñez' 2 billion
peso payment to the FARC to finance the kidnapping. Sources within
the General Attorney's Office denied the story to Colombian
newspaper El País.
Liberation of Sigifredo Lopez
On December 21, 2008, The FARC announced that they would release
Sigifredo Lopez and five other political hostages to Piedad Cordoba
as a humanitarian gesture.
On February 5, 2009, Sigifredo Lopez was