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Colombian rebels set to free two hostages

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Colombian rebels set to free two hostages


It might be days or a mere matter of hours but it now seems Clara Rojas and her child born in captivity will be freed by Colombian rebels. The former vice presidential candidate is set to be released along with ex-lawmaker Consuelo Gonzalez, almost six years after being kidnapped by the left-wing guerrilla group FARC.

It comes after the Colombian government backed the plan of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for Venezuelan aircraft to pick the pair up from a secret jungle camp. A disagreement over the details of the pick-up is thought to be delaying their release. Colombia’s Foreign Minister, Fernando Araujo, says for constitutional reasons any planes entering its territory must bear International Red Cross markings.

A successful outcome would greatly increase Chavez’s political standing. He was told by Bogota to stay out of hostage negotiations, but the left-wing leader continued to talk with rebel leaders.

Chavez fell out with his Colombian counterpart over the issue and threatened to halt trade. But Alvaro Uribe’s government quickly reversed its position. It is now thought that his intervention could help set the stage for an exchange of other kidnap victims, including the French Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. The former presidential candidate was abducted at the same time as Rojas.

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