PEACE PROCESS | 1/13/2010 12:00:00 AM
Why do hostages’ releases take so long?
SEMANA magazine found out that Farc guerilla didn’t want Brazil as guarantor. Nor the government, nor the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), nor the Church know what is happening. They have been waiting for nine months.
What is worse, is that some members from the government, the Red Cross International Committee and the Episcopal Conference, that should know the movements occurring, are puzzled because, in spite of the announcements, nothing is clear and releases are taking too long.
SEMANA found out some new details of what is happening. Since November 10, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, approved his country to be the guarantor or technical mediator of the releases. Therefore, since December 15, a Brazilian official who participated in previous releases arrived to Colombia.
In those days everything seemed to be defined. Monsignor Juan Vicente Córdoba, secretary of the Episcopal Conference, said to the country on December 16 that Moncayo’s and soldier Josué Calvo’s families could start cooking the New Year dinner for the hostages. "They can get the turkey and the chicken. There’s missing only one last-minute detail," concluded Monsignor.
But soon Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba rectified Monsignor announcements. Without giving details, she told the daily El País from Cali that "on December 24 and 31 everybody can celebrate peacefully. We're just beginning the process that would take at least another month”. Nonetheless, the Brazilian official decided to wait in Bogotá until December 23, but when he realized that there were no signals coming out from the jungle he had to return to his country.
On December 24, Frank Pearl, Colombia's high commissioner for social and economic reintegration, traveled to Medellin to ask Piedad Córdoba to be the intermediary so that Farc could give its view on Brazil’s mediation and explain how they would coordinate the releases. Four days later, a senior public figure forwarded to the government Córdoba’s response. According to her, FARC didn’t accept Brazil as guarantor, and instead proposed Argentina or Sweden.
The government then spoke with the Sweden’s ambassador and the diplomat was willing to cooperate.
On December 28, the FARC issued a statement. They said they were waiting for "security protocols" from the Colombian government in order to carry out the releases. "It’s necessary to know the protocols that stipulate official guarantees to avoid provocations," said the report signed by the rebel group Secretariat and distributed by Anncol, a related news agency.
A week later, and with no conversation mediated between the government and Piedad Córdoba, the senator said the releases could occur in about a month. "I think that with the FARC’s will and the government's decision the releases could take place during the first week of February", and also told the Associated Press that "it is not necessary (a meeting with Colombia’s president Álvaro Uribe) because the conditions and decisions are already set up".
Sergeant Moncayo was kidnapped by the rebel group on December 1997, while Calvo was abducted on April 2009, and police Julián Guevara, whose remains are part of this process, died on 2006, apparently because of a tropical disease, eight years after being Hijacked.
There are several interpretations about the delay in releasing hostages. Monsignor Córdoba says that the assassination of Caqueta’s governor Luis Francisco Cuellar, held and killed by FARC guerilla on December 22, delayed the process. Military intelligence analysts say the rebel group may be waiting a political moment, whether the approval of the re-election referendum or the parliamentary elections to have a different impact with releases.