Opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba sent a letter to outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe asking him to carry out a “humanitarian exchange” of FARC hostages for incarcerated guerrillas before his term ends on August 7.
In the letter, Cordoba said that a prisoner exchange should be seen as a political and ethical necessity of Colombian democracy, not as demonstrating the government’s weakness. The senator said the exchange would be “a useful tool to put an end to the pain of the families and the members of the police and the army who remain kidnapped by the FARC.”
“You must acknowledge, Mr. President, that we have repeatedly argued that kidnapping cannot be used as a means of political struggle and should be removed from the armed conflict. In that sense, as senators of the republic, we respectfully request that you reflect on the importance of the humanitarian agreement, we consider that to end your government with this decision would be to support peace in this country,” the letter reads.
“Mr. President, you have committed to continue working for the country and for peace, to open the doors to the humanitarian exchange [prisoner swap] is an act of greatness, of humanity and recognizes international human rights norms. For this reason dialog is the civilized way to resolve the conflict,” the letter says.
Cordoba, a former FARC hostage release negotiator, is one of the main advocates of a prisoner exchange to release hostages held by the guerrilla group. She believes that the deal should occur under Uribe’s leadership.
The leader of the “Colombians for peace” group traveled to Europe in April to rally international support for what she views as “a political solution to the conflict.”
The Colombian government’s terms for an exchange would require direct contact between FARC members and the authorities, and would exclude the release of guerrillas detained in the U.S.
Uribe demanded on Tuesday that the FARC free the 22 people currently being held hostage, following the guerrilla group’s release of a 26 minute proof-of-life video, which shows five members of Colombia’s security forces held captive by the rebel organization.