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COLOMBIA
Four hostages freed
IPS, Latinamerica Press
3/6/2008
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“I’m living again”.

 “I’m living again,” exclaimed former lawmaker Gloria Polanco when she was reunited with her children in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 27, after she was freed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which held her captive for more than six years. “I had been dead in life.”

Polanco was freed along with fellow former congressmen Luis Eladio Pérez, Orlando Beltrán and Jorge Eduardo Gechem, in a deal brokered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian opposition Sen. Piedad Córdova.

Along with the Red Cross, the Venezuelan government led an operation to pick up the former hostages in the Colombian department of Guaviare, in thick jungle, and air lifted them to Caracas.

Clara Rojas and Consuelo González, who had also been held hostage by the FARC, were handed over to Venezuelan and Colombian authorities and the Red Cross on Jan. 10.

The FARC has been holding some 40 people hostage — including former French-Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US contractors — whom they consider can be used in a prisoner exchange with the government.

The Colombian government has refused to accept a humanitarian agreement to exchange the hostages for hundreds of imprisoned rebels.


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