The Colombian government has released the most senior FARC rebel member it had captured. Rodrigo Granda was described as the FARC’s “foreign minister”, but he has been freed in the latest attempt by President Alvaro Uribe’s government to get the guerrillas to the talks table, and free some of their 56 high profile “political” hostages.
Chief among them are three Americans and the Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate kidnapped while on campaign in 2002.
Betancourt’s mother says Granda’s release has been pushed for by France, which is increasing efforts to get her release, and President Uribe confirmed French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for it in person. There is a rumour Granda will visit Paris, another that he will go into exile in Cuba.
However, Ingrid Betancourt’s husband doubts the Colombian government will ever negotiate with the FARC. The liberation of low-level FARC members to improve the atmosphere continues, but the Colombian press doubts the motives of Sarkozy, dubbing him “the French mosquito” for urging concessions to free Betancourt.