There was a joyful reunion with friends and family in Venezuela for two hostages released by Colombia’s FARC rebels. Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez hugged and kissed loved-ones who had been campaigning for their release since their kidnapping five years ago.
They are the first high-profile captives to have been freed by the guerrillas. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez led the mediation to secure their freedom.
The pair were freed yesteday near San Jose de Guaviare and later flown across the border. A similar rescue plan had collapsed on New Year’s Eve.
There were also emotional scenes at the handover in Colombia. Rojas had a son to one of her rebel captors. He was moved from the jungle hideout where they were being held and placed in foster care two years ago.
Rojas thanked Chavez for his efforts and urged him to continue negotiations for the release of others, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. She had been Betancourt’s running mate.
The Venezuelan leader has vowed to push ahead with negotiations.