Sunday, October 14, 2012

Those Still Missing

This couple suspect their nephew, who disappeared on leave one year ago, was kidnapped by the FARC. 
Pais Libre (Free Country), an anti-kidnapping organization, organized a protest by alleged victims of the FARC guerrillas on Plaza Bolivar today called 'Los que Faltan' (Those Still Missing).

With the start of government-FARC peace negotiations just a few days away, the demonstration was intended to pressure the guerrillas to free hostages whom Pais Libre believes the guerrillas still hold. The FARC claim to have released all of their hostages.

It certainly seems possible that the guerrillas continue holding kidnappees. After all, kidnapping became an integral part of the FARC's struggles: it enabled them to intimidate, extort and terrify civilians, as well as to force civilians to work for them. However, the guerrillas may be telling the truth for a very grim reason: the hostages may have died in captivity. But in that case the guerrillas should reveal the truth and hand over the remains.

But, some relatives most likely sincerely, but mistakenly, blame the guerrillas for their missing relatives. One time, I heard a man from the Middle East telephone a Colombian radio program which sent messages to guerrilla hostages. This man's son had gone swimming years before on a beach on Colombia's Caribbean coast and never returned. It seemed most likely that the young man had simply drowned, but his father held onto the faint hope that his son had been kidnapped and survived in captivity.

Similarly, the couple in the photo above said that their nephew, a soldier, had disapppeared a year ago while returning home for leave. But they mentioned no concrete reason to believe that the guerrillas had been kidnapped him.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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