The liberal senator, speaking on campaign trail in Villavicencio, said that the handover of Sgt. Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Pvt. Josue Daniel Calvo, as well as the delivery of the remains of deceased police chief Julian Ernesto Guevara, will happen as soon as the guerilla group sends a message approving the protocol of the operation and chooses a specific day for it to take place.
Supporting the senator’s contention that the hostage handover is imminent, Secretary General of the Episcopal Church, Monsignor Juan Cordoba (no relation) said earlier in the day that technicians from the Brazilian air force arrived in Colombia today to help set up the logistics of the hostage release. Msgr. Cordoba is one of the Catholic church officials involved as part of a humanitarian commission designated to receive the hostages.
The secretary general’s claims were denied by the Colombian government’s High Commissioner for Peace in a press release posted on their website. The Commissioner said that the Catholic Church is a “guarantor” in the hostage handover, and not a “spokesperson,” for any aspect of the mission. The presence of the Brazilian technicians was denied as the commission asked for “prudence and discretion” in discussion of the matter by those involved in it.
The road to releasing the hostages has been difficult over the past two years. FARC originally agreed to hand over Sgt. Moncayo in April of last year, but the release was held up over President Uribe’s initial refusal to allow Senator Cordoba to take part in the negotiations and create, in his words, a “political show.” However, FARC said that it would not free Moncayo without Cordoba’s involvement, and Uribe relented. Moncayo has been held by the guerillas for twelve years.