|Bogotá newspapers report the freeing of the FARC's hostages.|
The wonderful news that ten soldiers and policemen are free after 13 and 14 years held captive by the FARC guerrillas is cause for celebration by their families and the nation.
But freedom is only the beginning of new difficulties for the ex-captives, some of whom suffer physical and psychological ailments from their years of captivity and the abuses and hopelessness they've suffered. After the initial euphoria passes, these men will be faced with stresses in their marriages, work and the rest of their lives. We may see divorces and chemical dependencies.
Colombia has not escaped the kidnapping plague, either. Pais Libre says that the FARC continue holding more than 400 people. El Tiempo reports that more than 600 kidnappees are unaccounted for. And most likely other kidnappings go unreported. Narcotraffickers and other outlaw groups have also committed kidnappings.
Only time will tell whether the FARC will fulfill their promise of ending kidnappings of civilians, but I wouldn't bet on it. Kidnapping has been too fundamental a part of the guerrillas' extortion system and their tactics for intimidating and controlling civilian populations.
But let's hope. Let's hope that this liberation is the beginning of a road to negotiations which will end Colombia's long conflict.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours