The four Chinese oil workers recently kidnapped by alleged FARC guerrillas should not be afraid or worry about the outcome, a former hostage told Colombia Reports.
Norbert Reinhart, a former employee of Canadian mining company Greystar, was held captive by the FARC for three months in 1998.
According to the current mining consultant, the situation in which the Chinese are in is significantly different than 13 years ago when he was held hostage in the jungle.
“The situation has probably changed a whole lot, and it would have been different if the army was in pursuit of me when I was kidnapped. Back then, the Colombian Army didn’t have the will or the means to go after kidnap victims.”
Commenting on this operation, Reinhart stated: “I think the fact that they [the Colombian Armed Forces] are in pursuit will change this. They [the workers] have an instant high profile because they are probably the only foreigners kidnapped right now. Fifteen years ago there were any number kidnapped at a given time.”
At the time of his captivity Reinhardt became a national hero in Canada for voluntarily taking the place of one of his employees.
In June of 1998, Edward Leonard, an employee of a subcontractor for the Canadian mining company Greystar Resources, was kidnapped by members of the FARC in the municipality of California, Santander.
Dissatisfied by the slow pace of negotiation and poor communication of Greystar and the Colombian government, Reinhart, Leonard´s boss at the time, personally negotiated with the FARC and raised money to pay for his employee’s ransom.
After months of hard negotiation and raising money the miner approached the FARC with an offer he thought would satisfy their demands. They were not. Reinhart then became a national hero in Canada and across the world when he told his employee that his shift was over, and that Reinhart would be switching places with his employee. While Leonard was freed that day, his boss endured three months of captivity at the hands of the FARC in the mountains of Santander.
According to the former hostage, he was treated neither poorly, nor well, while being held captive by the FARC.
“In one word, it was boring… It wasn’t nearly as bad as people imagined. I was a commodity and they would do anything to protect it.”
According to Colombian police, the Chinese workers were kidnapped for the purposes of ransom. Sinochem has refused to comment on whether or not extortion payments were the motive.
Reinhart added that, “If I could send a message to them, it would be to not worry or be afraid about the outcome, enjoy the day to day. Somebody is going to pay. I would give the same message to their families. They are a commodity and the problem will get worked out.”