Forum Haiti : Des Idées et des Débats sur l'Avenir d'Haiti

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 Chavez a marqué un but

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MessageSujet: Chavez a marqué un but   Jeu 10 Jan 2008 - 16:23

(CNN) -- Red Cross helicopters carrying two freed Colombian hostages touched down in Venezuela on Thursday.

Consuelo Gonzalez, a Colombian politician who has been in custody for more than 6½ years, and Clara Rojas, an aide to fellow hostage and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The rebels have not agreed to release Betancourt.

The two women were freed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish acronym FARC, in a deal brokered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

After landing in the Venezuelan border town of Santo Domingo, they strode about 100 yards across the airport tarmac to a waiting jet, which took off a few minutes later for Caracas.

Both women thanked Chavez in telephone conversations videotaped by the rescuers. "You're helping us, president, return to life, thank you, Mr. President," said Rojas.

Gonzalez urged him to continue his efforts to free the others being held. "Your can't let your guard down," she said. "Those who remain would say that. We have to keep on working."

Doctors had been standing but it did not appear that they were needed. "They appear well," said Terry Robins, a Red Cross representative who accompanied them on the trip. "They were smiling in the helicopter."

Chavez announced the release at a news conference while the Red Cross helicopters were en route to a jungle location pickup point in Colombia.

Yves Heller , a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, "I believe that it is a great day for these people. We are going to continue working for the victims of this conflict."

The FARC is a leftist insurgent force that has sought to overthrow the Colombian government since the late 1960s.

It holds about 700 hostages in the jungles of Colombia. Last year, the group struck a deal with Chavez to release three of them -- Gonzalez, Rojas and Emanuel, Rojas' 3-year-old son by one of the rebels.

FARC blamed a New Year's Eve collapse of the deal on Colombian military activity, but the Colombian government said that the rebels called off the deal because they didn't have Emanuel in custody -- the boy had been in foster care in Bogota for two years.

FARC has justified hostage-taking as a legitimate military tactic in a long-running and complex civil war that also has involved right-wing paramilitary units, government forces and drug traffickers.

The group's captives include three U.S. contractors who were captured when their plane went down in 2003 during a drug-eradication flight.

Betancourt, a one-time French-Colombian independent presidential candidate, and Rojas were kidnapped in February 2002 after venturing into rebel-held territory.

"I'm happy for them both," said Yolanda Apulecio, the mother of Betancourt, who was not released. "Every day, I dream of the day that I'm going to see her and embrace her. This that we are living shouldn't ever happen to anybody."

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's defense minister, told reporters he hoped that Thursday's operation turns out to be the first of many. "I hope that they continue liberating the hostages that they still have," he said. "This is only two of the 700 they have."
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