Freed Hostage Claims Colombian Government Tried to Sabotage Release

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 27 January 2008

One of the two high profile hostages freed by FARC guerrillas earlier this month has claimed that delays in their release were caused by the Colombian Government bombing the area in which the hostages were to be handed over to a humanitarian mission arranged by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

International news reports repeatedly aired footage of the mission, which included US film director Oliver Stone and former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, waiting for permission to go and collect the two hostages. That initial mission failed amid Colombian Government claims that the FARC were lying and had no intention of releasing the two women politicians.

President Chavez of Venezuela subsequently accused President Uribe of Colombia of "dynamiting" the mission. He said that the FARC were in fact ready to release the two but that they were forced to retreat from the handover zone by Colombian military operations. President Uribe denied this saying that his military were under orders not to interfere in the release.

But in January 10th, after Consuelo Gonzalez and Clara Rojas were finally released, the truth came out as Gonzalez, a former Colombian Congresswoman, told the press how the military had repeatedly attempted to sabotage the release:

"'On December 21, we began to walk toward the location where they were going to free us and we walked almost 20 days. During that time, we were forced to run several times because the soldiers were very close,' she said. Gonzalez also lamented that on the day that President Uribe set as a deadline for the release, the Colombian armed forces launched the worst attack on the zone where they were located. "On the 31st, we realized that there was going to be a very big mobilization and, in the moment that we were ready to be released, there was a huge bombardment and we had to relocate quickly to another place."

In is inconceivable that President Uribe, who was closely following the release negotiations, did not know about the attacks on the area where the hostages were due to be freed. Could it be, as some have alleged, that he wished to kill the two women so that he could then blame the FARC for their deaths? Uribe's actions since for example forbidding President Chavez from negotiating the release of any more hostages display a worrying lack of concern for the well-being of the politicians and military officers still being held.

Justice for Colombia joins with the families of those still held hostage in urging the Colombian Government to immediately start talks with the FARC aimed at securing a humanitarian exchange the only guaranteed way to ensure that all those still detained are released safe and sound.

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