There is new evidence that hostages held by Colombia’s FARC rebels, are still alive. The government has shown videos of kidnapped politician, Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans among others. The tapes, which include footage from October, were confiscated from suspected rebels captured in an army operation in the capital Bogota.
This is the first proof since 2003 that Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian citizen and former presidential candidate, is alive. There have been increased international efforts this year to secure the release of the hostages, Ingrid Betancourt in particular.
French President, Nicolas Sarkozy played a key role in attempts to exchange the captives for jailed rebel fighters. However, that came to nothing. More recently Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, tried to broker a similar deal. But Colombia suspended his role as mediator after it was claimed he had breached protocol by contacting Colombian military chiefs directly.
Founded in the 1960s as a leftist organization, the FARC is now deeply engaged in Colombia’s cocaine trade and has kidnapped scores of police, soldiers, businessmen and lawmakers for ransom and political leverage.