Liberated FARC hostage Pablo Emilio Moncayo gave his thanks to those who assisted in securing his release after 12 years in captivity, at a press conference in Florencia, Caqueta Tuesday night. While the presidents of Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela were included in his thanks, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was not.
“You can’t imagine how exciting it is to return to civilization… I want to thank God and my father for his titanic effort [to secure the liberation],” Moncayo told press.
Moncayo also thanked ‘Colombians for Peace’, the International Committe of the Red Cross (ICRC), the crew of the helicopter that rescued him and especially liberation negotiator Senator Piedad Cordoba
The former hostage also conveyed a message from his fellow FARC captives Colonel Edgar Yesid Duarte and Jose Libio Martinez. Moncayo said that they had personally asked him to request that an international NGO seek their liberation, because they believe their lives are in danger.
Following his address to the media, Moncayo cut the chains that bound his father’s wrists – a symbol that Professor Gustavo Moncayo has used to protest for his son’s liberation.
31 year old Moncayo was kidnapped on December 21, 1997, after FARC guerrillas stormed the Nariño army base where he and 33 other soldiers were located. The 18 soldiers who survived the attack, including Moncayo, were taken by the FARC. The FARC later released 16 of the soldiers kidnapped in the attack. Moncayo and soldier Jose Libio Martinez remained in captivity. Martinez is yet to be released.
The FARC first announced they would release Moncayo and fellow captive and soldier Josue Daniel Calvo in April 2009. Negotiations between the guerrilla organization and the Colombian government stalled for almost a year because the two parties could not agree on the terms of the liberation. Calvo was finally liberated last Sunday.
The FARC have announced that Moncayo’s was their last hostage release, and from now on they will only participate in humanitarian exchanges of FARC hostages for guerrillas incarcerated in both Colombia and the U.S.
Cordoba has agitated for a humanitarian exchange and says that the exchange must occur before the end of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s term on August 7 this year, because negotiations with a new Colombian president “would be difficult”.
Uribe on Sunday open the doors to the possibility, saying that he was “not against a humanitarian exchange provided that the released FARC fighters do not return to the FARC.”