Chavez Announced the Release of Two Colombian Hostages held by FARC

Chavez: Venezuela will continue opening paths towards peace in Colombia
by Kiraz Janicke

Caracas, January 10, 2008, ( - Venezuelan President Chavez announced that two hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been successfully liberated in a Venezuelan led humanitarian mission today. President Chavez mediated the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo after receiving the coordinates for where the hostages could be found from the FARC and authorization from the Colombian government to carry out the operation.

At 11.30 am today Chavez confirmed that the hostages had been freed and were in the care of Venezuelan Minister of Justice, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, who oversaw the rescue mission. Chavez indicated that the rescue operation was carried out with "total normality."

Venezuelan helicopters left from the base Buenaventura Vivas in the state of Tachira, towards San Jose del Guaviare, in Colombia very early this morning, later bearing Red Cross emblems they flew to the place indicated by the FARC, Chavez explained.

"Approximately ten minutes later I received a message directly from the point of the coordinates, a point totally unknown, but from there in a manner audibly emotional, our Minister of Justice told me we are in this moment receiving Clara and Consuelo from the hands of a unit of the FARC."Chavez also confirmed that he had spoken directly by telephone with Clara and Consuelo and indicated that he had received information from Minister Chacin that they are both, "in good condition and in this moment they are due to begin flying in our helicopters, with the Red Cross, from that point in the jungle in Guaviare directly to Venezuela, where they will arrive in approximately three hours."

Maria Fernanda Perdomo waiting in Caracas to be reunited with her mother after seven years, told Venezuelan state TV, "It is an emotion so big I can´t describe, we are counting the seconds until they arrive."

Chavez informed that the whole rescue operation had been coordinated with the Colombian government, "I want to thank the Colombian government for their disposition and their cooperation so that everything has turned out well."

He stressed that the Venezuelan people "are sending our heart to Colombia; Venezuela without Colombia is not complete; Colombia without Venezuela is not complete; Colombians pardon me for what I say but it is what I feel," and assured that "Venezuela would continue opening paths towards peace in Colombia."

He also said that Cuban Ambassador in Venezuela, German Sanchez Otero had also participated in the mission at the request of the Colombian government in recognition of the efforts of Cuba and its president Fidel Castro, for peace in Colombia.

Chavez also thanked the International Red Cross for their role in the hostage liberation.

Colombian High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo said the operation had been carried out with "an excellent spirit of cooperation" between Venezuelan and Colombian authorities and that Colombia would consider new humanitarian operations if they were carried out with discretion, respect and communication.

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