Venezuela: Four FARC hostages to be released this week (Updated II)
Caracas, Venezuela, 25 Februay 2008. During a televised interview, Venezuelan Home Minister and Hostages negotiator, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, stated four FARC hostages -Gloria Polanco de Lozada, Luis Eladio Pérez, Orlando Beltrán Cuéllar and Jorge Eduardo Gechem Turbay- would be released this week. However, Minister Rodríguez Chacín also pointed out that current military activity in the area where hostages are kept could delay their release. Colombian Anncol has also transmitted the same concern over the hostages´ release. This information on military activity in the jungle contradicts allegations made earlier by Colombian Minister of Defence, Juan Manuel Santos, who stated they have stopped. Santos had also expressed hostages were not united but spread over a wide area.
This afternoon, Venezuelan Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs informed that a commission would be travelling to Colombia on Wednesday. Venezuela already knows the exact location where hostages would be freed and collected by a joint Venezuelan and Red Cross team. Then, they will be taken to Caracas where their relatives await for their liberation. Released hostages are expected to have full medical assistance as soon as they arrive in Venezuela. There has been different news on the poor health condition of ex MP Gechem Turbay.
Venezuelan government and members of the hostages´ families have asked Bogota to provide the international cooperation and guarantees for the Joint Venezuelan Red Cross commission to travel into Colombian territory. Bogota has said it would stop its military operations in the area. The news of the impending liberation comes amid the detention in Bogotá of the ex Leader of the Conservative Party, Ciro Ramirez, and four MPs. The Colombian Supreme Court has charged for paramilitary activities. Today, Mr. William Brownfield ,American Ambassador to Colombia - formerly posted in Caracas - also apologise for his comments on the Venezuelan participation on drug trafficking. Such comments were considered a diplomatic faux pas. On February 2007, Caracas protested his meddling in the Venezuelan and Colombian bilateral relations.
PS: On 26 February, 2008, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe confirmed his government would provide guarantees to the joint Venezuelan - Red Cross team for the collection on four hostages held bu FARC. Most probably the humanitarian operation would take place tomorrow, Wedenesday, during the day.
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