April 3, 2012- The FARC rebels in Colombia have freed ten captives they held for over 10 years. Those released were four members of the Colombian armed forces and six police officers. The 10 had been held in different prison camps throughout the country in the depths of the Colombian jungles.
The rebels have been holding these 10 as bargaining chips for pressuring the government. The International Red Cross was instrumental in getting the 10 captives released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The group called the release a gesture of peace.
The 10 men were dressed in army fatigues and looked well taken care of and relatively healthy. The 10 had been freed in a remote location in southern Colombia. One of the 10 wore a Colombian flag draped over his shoulders as he walked on the tarmac towards awaiting army personnel and family.
This release of prisoners could be the first step by FARC towards starting talks that could end the oldest Latin American insurgency. For five decades, the guerilla group has tried to destroy the economic infrastructure of the country.
The public and many in government are skeptical the group will negotiate and lay down their arms. In the past, they used peace talks as a way to strengthen their forces. Most people familiar with the group believe they are still holding over 700 civilians’ captive.
All ten released yesterday had been taken in the late 1990s.