The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has met families of hostages held by marxist guerrillas in neighbouring Colombia – including the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. The FARC guerrillas have held hundreds of police, soldiers and politicians over several years.
The left-wing Chavez has asked the Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba to help him make contact with the rebels, so he can act as an intermediary. Chavez addressed the FARC leader saying: “I don’t know you, but wherever you are, I speak to you as a great Colombian, here with Colombian family members of those in captivity. You know that Colombia’s President has asked our friend Senator Cordoba for a facilitation meeting. She has asked for my help. This occasion presented itself and I only want to help.”
Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped in 2002 while campaigning for the Colombian presidency. Three American anti-drugs agents were snatched the year after. FARC are fighting a 40 year conflict with the administration. Despite ideological differences between Chavez and Uribe of Colombia, the two claim to maintain good ties.