On April 2 the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released the last members of the security forces they were holding captive—a group of 10, who have been held for more than 12 years. They were handed over in a joint operation orchestrated by the Colombian and Brazilian governments, the Red Cross, and activist group Colombians for Peace. The men were picked up in a Brazilian military helicopter, and taken from the jungle to the city of Villavicencio, Meta department, where they were reunited with relatives, appearing before TV cameras waving Colombian flags and punching the air. Afterwards they were flown to Bogotá, where President Juan Manuel Santos gave a speech welcoming their return.
President Santos emphasized that the move was “not enough” to start direct peace talks, calling on the rebels to also free the hundreds of civilians they continue hold at their jungle camps. “You must release the kidnapped civilians still held, and must account to the families of each and every one of them,” said Santos. According to the Fundacion Pais Libre, a Colombian NGO, there are 405 civilians still being held by the FARC, mostly to extort ransom from their families. (InSight Crime, April 3; El Tiempo, Bogotá, Notimex, April 2)
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