Colombian and Brazilian government officials, representatives of the Red Cross and hostage mediators have finished preparations for the release of guerrilla group FARC‘s last ten political hostages due Monday and Wednesday.
Red Cross representatives and hostage mediators flew to the northern Brazilian town of Sao Gabriel where the Brazilian Air Force stationed the two helicopters that will be used for the release operations.
At 6PM on Sunday, the Colombian military will suspend all its operations in the area where the FARC agreed to surrendered the first five hostages. According to the Red Cross, the military command was notified in which area to stop fighting on Saturday evening. The Colombian government has agreed to suspend all military activity until Tuesday 3PM.
Following Monday’s planned release of five hostages, the Colombian military will suspend all operations in the area where the second group of hostages will be released on Tuesday 6PM and will keep troops in the barracks until Thursday 3PM.
According to former Senator and hostage mediator Piedad Cordoba, the hostage release mission will fly from Sao Gabriel to the central Colombian town on Sunday afternoon. On Monday and Wednesday, the hostage mediators and representatives of the Red Cross will take off from the town’s airport for the actual hostage pick up.
Following their release, the hostages will be flown back to Villavicencio. After that they’re expected to meet the press in Bogota‘s military airport Catam.
The release of the last political hostages of the FARC is a milestone in Colombia’s armed conflict that has been ongoing since the late 1940s when the country’s two political parties, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, violently attempted to take control of the country.
The Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos has always demanded the release of the hostages as a condition to start peace talks with the guerrillas who have been fighting the state since 1964. While Santos has applauded the FARC’s announcement in January to release the hostages and ban the practice of kidnapping civilians for extortion purposes, the President demanded more concessions of the guerrillas before agreeing to talk.