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View Full Version : Progress in Colombia (hostage situation)


Intel_Airman
03-23-2007, 11:15
Well, in an earlier post I said this wouldn't happen; but looks like some progress is being made. Hopefully, we can bring Keith, Marc, and Thomas home soon.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/03/22/colombia.hostages.reut/index.html

Colombia backs hostage-swap plan from U.S. lawmakers
POSTED: 4:08 p.m. EDT, March 22, 2007
Story Highlights• Colombian government wants to exchange 61 hostages for imprisoned guerrillas
• The two sides have yet to agree on terms for starting talks
• Seven U.S. lawmakers have offered to witness future negotiations with FARC
• Colombian negotiator says lawmakers' offer could help cinch prisoner swap

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BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- An offer from U.S. lawmakers to witness negotiations to free 61 hostages, including three Americans, held for years by Colombian rebels could help clinch a prisoner swap, Colombia said Thursday.

The Colombian government wants to exchange 61 politicians and other high-profile hostages held in secret jungle camps for an unspecified number of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas in government prisons. But the two sides have yet to agree on terms for starting talks.

Seven U.S. House of Representatives members wrote a letter to Colombia earlier this month offering to accompany any future negotiations with the 17,000-member rebel army known by its Spanish initials FARC.

"The most important thing is the offer from these Congress members to go to the negotiation zone as guarantors. We believe this could help give confidence to the FARC, which has always been afraid to enter talks," Colombian peace negotiator Luis Carlos Restrepo told local radio on Thursday.

The FARC, concerned for the safety of its negotiators, wants Colombia to withdraw government troops from a rural area nearly the size of New York City to negotiate the exchange.

President Alvaro Uribe says he is considering the idea but may instead try to rescue the kidnap victims, an option rejected by families of the hostages as too risky.

U.S. defense contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves were captured after their plane crashed in the jungle during a drug-eradication mission in 2003.

The FARC also is holding French-Colombian national Ingrid Betancourt, taken during her 2002 presidential campaign.

"I believe the way to reunite these families is through an exchange," Rep. James McGovern, D-Massachusetts, told Reuters. "If we can do that, it could be a step toward other talks aimed at bringing an end to the conflict."

The 61 hostages are but a few of the estimated 3,170 kidnap victims held by the FARC, other rebel groups and common criminals in Colombia, according to government figures.

The guerrillas were organized in the 1960s to force land reforms and other measures meant to close the wide gap that separates rich and poor in the Andean country. They fund their operations with extortion, kidnapping for ransom, drug smuggling and contraband gasoline.

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Intel_Airman
03-23-2007, 12:54
Should I have posted this in the Latin America forums instead? My bad, please move it if so mods.

Neo
03-23-2007, 13:48
It's amazing to see how powerful the FARC is in Colombia.

The Reaper
03-23-2007, 14:51
The United States Government does not negotiate with terrorists. Period.

I am sorry to see that we appear to be helping another country do so.

I would prefer that we assist the Colombians with taking them back by force.

Not living there anymore, but the FARC appears to me to be weaker now than ever before.

TR

FILO
03-23-2007, 14:52
Without more specificity on the timeframe, I predict it will not happen until or unless FARC gives up the following demand:


The FARC, concerned for the safety of its negotiators, wants Colombia to withdraw government troops from a rural area nearly the size of New York City to negotiate the exchange.

Pastrana gave in on this demand for a DMZ and FARC abused it and he was forced to retake. I suspect Uribe will turn down this pre-condition.