The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released former Meta governor Alan Jara to a humanitarian mission on Feb. 3 in Guaviare department; the rebels had held him as a hostage for more than seven and a half years. On Feb. 5 the group released former legislative deputy Sigifredo López in Cauca department; López, who had spent almost seven years in captivity, is the only surviving member of a group of 12 deputies from Valle del Cauca department captured by the FARC in April 2002.
The two hostages’ release was part of a complicated arrangement involving the Brazilian government, the Colombian military, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the activist group Colombians for Peace; three police agents and one soldier were freed through the same arrangement on Feb. 1. A dispute between Colombians for Peace and the government over military operations delayed the release of Jara and López by one day.
In a press conference held in Villavicencio hours after his release on Feb. 3, former governor Jara had harsh words both for the FARC and for President Alvaro Uribe. “It would seem,” he said, “that the situation of war that the country is experiencing suits president Uribe—and the FARC too, it would seem—and this is what’s perverse.”
“I’m sorry with all my heart that Uribe didn’t do anything for our freedom,” he added. Although the rebels had treated him well enough, Jara said: “I don’t know what they think, I don’t understand them.” President Uribe met with Jara later that evening but didn’t comment on the former governor’s remarks. On Feb. 4 government officials suggested that Jara was suffering from “Stockholm Sindrome,” an identification captives supposedly feel with their captors.
López held his own press conference soon after he arrived in Cali on Feb. 5. He charged that the FARC was entirely to blame for the deaths of the other 11 Valle del Cauca deputies on June 18, 2007. The FARC command had given an order for the deputies to be killed in the event of a rescue attempt, he said. When six rebels from the FARC’s 19th front arrived without warning, “El Grillo,” commander of the 60th Front 60, mistook them for the military and had the hostages killed, according to López. It was “because of pure paranoia and because the FARC is a killing machine,” he said. “They killed them from cowardice.”
López himself had been separated from the other deputies for disciplinary reasons and so was spared. He told the reporters that for days after the incident he wouldn’t say anything to his captors except: “Murdering bastards.”
Both Jara and López said that they would work for the rebels and the government to agree on an exchange of 22 soldiers and police agents still held by the FARC for a number of imprisoned rebels. (Univision, Feb. 4 from AFP; AFP, Feb. 5; El Financiero, Mexico, Feb. 5 from Notimex/GCE; La Jornada, Mexico, Feb. 6)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8
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