Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Hostage families in Colombia ask for Betancourt’s help

AFP , BOGOTA

Families of hostages held by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels met in Bogota on Sunday with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, asking her to work on their behalf during her Latin American tour.

Betancourt, a French-Colombian national, arrived in Colombia on Saturday for the first time since she was rescued from the Marxist FARC rebel group after a six-year hostage ordeal.

Bogota marked her first stop in a tour pressing for Latin American leaders to help persuade the rebels to disarm and end their guerrilla war.

The 46-year-old was given “a broad mandate to lobby presidents around the world, especially in Latin America,” said Marleny Orjuela, spokeswoman for soldiers held hostage by FARC.

FARC still holds between 350 and 700 hostages, including 28 so-called “political hostages” — politicians, policemen and troops — that the rebels want to swap for about 500 imprisoned guerrillas.

“We agreed to give her broad powers so that she can launch an international dialogue and increase pressure on friendly Latin American countries in order to find an negotiated outcome to this problem,” former hostage Oscar Lizcano told the press.

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