A reporter accompanying a humanitarian mission on Sunday to release
four hostages held by Colombian rebels accused the military of
interfering with and delaying the handover.
Jorge Enrique Botero said the International Red Cross mission — in a
loaned Brazilian military helicopter — has been hounded by military
“This pursuit was ordered by military commanders,”
Botero told the Venezuelan television network Telesur by telephone from
a jungle clearing. “The operation was basically on the verge of being
He said he had audio recordings to prove his allegations, including radio transmissions of military pilots talking .
peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo, called the allegations
“baseless.” He said an agreement with the International Committee of
the Red Cross had established that there would be no military flights
beneath 20,000 feet
Botero said at mid-afternoon the handover of
the three police officers and one soldier was nevertheless about to
occur. “We’re a few meters from them.” He said the group hoped to make
it by sundown to the lowland provincial capital of Villavicencio, where
reporters and relatives of the hostages had been waiting all day for
The four security force members were captured by
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2007. They are among six
hostages the FARC said it would free this week. Also due to be released
are two politicians who have been held far longer.
consider this week’s unilateral releases — the guerrillas’ first in
nearly a year — a goodwill gesture. However, chances for a peace
dialogue with Colombia’s government remain far off and the alleged
military interference Sunday is only apt to complicate matters.
Also speaking with Telesur was the guerrilla commander in charge of the handover, who identified himself as Jairo Martinez.
Martinez said Colombia’s military had killed a rebel in his unit in combat on Sunday morning.
The peace commissioner, Restrepo, did not directly deny the allegation, but said “We are accustomed to the lies of the FARC.”