HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Colombian rebels offer prisoner swap

BOGOTA, Colombia - The rebels holding a former presidential candidate hostage said Friday they were still willing to strike a deal for her release, five years to the day after her capture.

In a statement, Ivan Marquez, a member of the supreme command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, of FARC, also dismissed recent speculation that Ingrid Betancourt was being held outside of Colombia.

"The liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and all the prisoners held by both sides could already have been part of history, if (President Alvaro Uribe) had agreed to demilitarize the municipalities of Florida and Pradera," Marquez said in the statement.

He referred to a long-standing demand by the rebels for the government to withdraw all security forces from two remote towns in southwest Colombia, a guerrilla stronghold.

The 15,000-strong FARC say the towns must be demilitarized for 45 days to allow an exchange of prisoners, something the government has so far rejected.

The FARC hold around 60 well known prisoners — including Betancourt, former ministers and three U.S. defense contractors who were kidnapped four years ago — which they will only release in return for the freeing of some 500 imprisoned rebels.

Betancourt — who has become a cause celebre because of her dual French-Colombian nationality — was kidnapped on Feb. 23, 2002, as she campaigned for president in southern Colombia.

Saying that the guerrillas are not interested in a deal, Uribe advocates military rescues of the hostages as the only hope of freeing them — something the hostages' families unanimously oppose, fearing their loved ones will be killed in the crossfire of a military operation or executed by their captors to prevent their escape.

"A military rescue is simply irresponsible," said Marquez, calling the escape of former minister Fernando Araujo six weeks ago from six years of captivity during an attack by the army on the camp where he was being held "the luck of one in a thousand."
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org