Jean Pierre Gontard, the former Swiss mediator in FARC peace talks with the Colombian government, offered asylum in Switzerland to family members of “Alfonso Cano” and “Raul Reyes” during negotiations over the release of Ingrid Betancourt, a WikiLeaks cable revealed.
In a cable sent on April 2, 2008 and released by newspaper El Espectador, the then-U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield relays how an anonymous source stated that the FARC Secretariat “owed Gontard a lot” since he had arranged for the possibility for their families to live in Lausanne, Swtizerland.
This cable came at a tense moment prior to Betancourt’s eventual release, with the French government requesting and ultimatey receiving approval to send a humanitarian mission in order to confirm she was still alive.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened the FARC in a private message that if Betancourt were to die, the guerrilla group would remain on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations “forever.”
The French also only held faith in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez being able to facilitate Betancourt’s release.
Betancourt, a former Colombian senator of French-Colombian descent, was kidnapped by the FARC on February 23, 2002 and freed over six years later along with 14 others in an operation by the Colombian military dubbed, “Operation Jaque.”