If you had any doubts about the direction of the FARC under new commander Timochenko — though, ahem, it seemed pretty clear to us — you can put them to rest now.
The Colombian rebel group executed four hostages over the weekend after they were surprised by Colombian troops in the jungle.
One hostage escaped by fleeing when the gunfire began, and hiding for hours.
The FARC has a policy of executing captives rather than allowing them to be rescued. But the rebels also told their captives to run towards them should the group come under fire, promising to protect them, according to the AP.
When the shooting started, the four took the rebels at their word. Three were shot in the head, and one in the back.
The fifth, Luis Alberto Erazo, is a Colombian police sargent who had been held captive for 12 years when he escaped, relatively unscathed.
This is one of the more tragic effects of the FARC. But it also underscores the emphasis Colombia has put on tracking down the guerillas. President Juan Manuel Santos has said that he intends to finish them off. That's tough talk, but it seems to be playing out pretty well.
On Monday, Santos visited Venezuela, which has long been at odds with its neighbor. Colombia has accused Venezuela of harboring FARC leaders and drug traffickers it has been trying to capture. When Timochenko's name was floated as a likely successor to Alfonso Cano, the longtime FARC commander, observers speculated that he was hiding in Venezuela.
And Venezuela has always denied this, which kept relations pretty cool between them.
But when Santos arrived on Monday, President Hugo Chavez said that Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, known as “Valenciano,” had been captured in the country and would be brought to Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, for extradition.
Santos called it a "very good welcome gift." Chavez, ever the politician, said it was a "happy coincidence."
They both said they're going to cooperate more on security issues. We'll see if Venezuela delivers, but if they do, the FARC could be in for a rough time.
Given their need to prove their viability, we can likely expect more violence in the coming months.