Hopes are rising that dozens of hostages held in secret rebel camps in Colombia may soon be freed. The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez believes he’s close to securing a meeting with their kidnappers. In Colombia to inaugurate a new gas pipeline, Chavez said details were being kept secret. He was waiting for security conditions to be agreed, he said, but the news could break at any time.
The Venezuelan leader agreed to mediate between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government in Bogota. He hopes to win the freedom of 50 hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American narcotics agents, for some of their jailed comrades.
Betancourt was seized in 2002, the Americans a year later. It’s hoped Chavez’s high profile and left-wing credentials will persuade the FARC leadership to agree a deal and release their hostages.