Photo: FARC Captives to be Released
Colombia’s FARC guerrilla group put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the release of its last 10 military and police hostages by designating April 2 as the start of the humanitarian missions.
The new date was made known on Saturday to former Sen. Piedad Cordoba, the leader of Colombians for Peace (CCP), a spokesman for the organization told Efe in Bogota. CCP has been accepted by the rebels as the entity that will facilitate the handing over of the hostages.
According to the rebels’ new schedule, several of the hostages will be released on April 2 and, a day or so later due to logistical reasons, the other captives will be handed over.
The CCP official said that the new schedule will be formalized on Sunday afternoon by the International Red Cross delegation during a meeting of the parties to the transfer.
Before the rebel’s amendment of the schedule, March 30 had been the date set for the hostage release.
“It means that (the FARC) is giving us more space to coordinate the logistical part,” emphasized Cordoba in a brief statement by telephone to private television station Canal Caracol.
The revised date has already been ratified by the representatives of the governments of Colombia and Brazil, as well as the Red Cross, on whose shoulders rests the coordination and logistical planning for the humanitarian operation.
Last week, Colombia, Brazil and the Red Cross had warned that it would not work to undertake the operation on Monday, the day set earlier by the FARC for the first releases, and so the rebels then designated March 30 as the handover date.
The new schedule was announced by the head of the Red Cross delegation in Bogota, Jordi Raich, and Cordoba.
The CCP is the group to which the rebels in the past have turned over about 15 hostages, and it clarified that the modification in the release date was not initiated by the FARC.
“Of course, the Colombian government has done everything possible, just like the Brazilian government and the Red Cross, so that this becomes a reality,” Defense Vice Minister Jorge Enrique Bedoya, the government’s spokesman in this matter, said.
The humanitarian missions were only supposed to commence on March 30 if the FARC before 7 p.m. local time on Wednesday were to have provided the coordinates so that the government would know where to suspend military operations to allow them to take place, a situation already agreed to by the parties to facilitate the hostages’ release, Bedoya said.
The hostages to be released include soldiers Luis Alfonso Beltran Franco, Luis Arturo Arcia, Robinson Salcedo Guarin and Luis Alfredo Moreno Chagueza, and police officers Carlos Jose Duarte, Cesar Augusto Lasso Monsalve, Jorge Trujillo Solarte, Jorge Humberto Romero, Jose Libardo Forero and Wilson Rojas Medina.