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Chavez says Colombian hostages set for freedom

Chavez says Colombian hostages set for freedom
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There is fresh hope today that Marxist rebels in Colombia may soon release two of their hostages. A Venezuelan-led operation to pick up Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez collapsed on New Year’s Eve.

The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had sent helicopters to Colombia to pick them up, but the FARC rebels reneged at the last minute. Now the president says he’s been assured the women will be freed, and he has been told where to find them.

“Hopefully, in the next few hours, Consuelo and Clara will be freed, and hopefully all people suffering similar captivity, in Colombia or elsewhere around the world, will also be feed,” said Chavez.

The failure of the earlier mission came amid strained relations between Caracas and Bogota, but Colombia’s peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said his government will support this latest attempt: “Colombia reiterates that we are offering all guarantees to ensure that the liberation of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez will happen soon.”

The earlier deal was to liberate Gonzalez, Rojas and her young son Emmanuel, who was born in captivity. But it’s believed the FARC no longer had the boy, and that may have torpedoed the release. He’s thought to be in care in Bogota. Rojas was kidnapped with the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt in 2002.