Colombia ends Chávez-FARC mediations

Friday, November 23, 2007

Álvaro Uribe Vélez in 2003.
Image: José Cruz/ABr.

On Thursday, Colombia ended Hugo Chávez, the President of Venezuela, efforts in negotiating hostage releases with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Álvaro Uribe, the President of Colombia, said that Chávez broke a November 10 agreement not to speak directly to Colombian military commanders. File:Melanie Betancourt 2007 x.JPG

Melanie Betancourt campaigns in France for the release of her mother, Íngrid Betancourt.
Image: Fr@nçois.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

FARC, reportedly, hold hundreds of hostages in the jungles of Colombia. Their aim in the mediation was to trade some 50 hostages for 500 of their own, held in prisons of Colombia. FARC is offering high-profile hostages such as former Senator Íngrid Betancourt and three Americans as leverage.

"The president of the republic considers as terminated the facilitation of the Senator Piedad Cordoba and the mediation of President Hugo Chávez and thanks them for their assistance," Uribe said in a statement. "Today Senator Piedad Cordoba telephoned the army commander, General Mario Montoya, asking for a meeting and then passed the telephone to President Chávez, who asked questions about the hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia," the statement continued.

Later, the Colombian government said it will only let Chávez meet with FARC again, if FARC releases some hostages and pledges to release the rest.

Íngrid Betancourt was kidnapped on February 23, 2002, while she was campaigning for the presidency of Colombia. She also holds French citizenship. When Chávez met Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France on November 20, he was unable to provide proof that Betancourt was alive, but said that he had been told she was alive as recently as November 18.

On Thursday, Sarkozy urged Uribe to reconsider. "We continue to think that President Chávez is the best chance for freeing Íngrid Betancourt and all the other hostages," said Sarkozy spokesperson David Martinon.