Proof that Colombian Hostages are Alive is “Thanks to Chavez”

Colombia arrested three who were found in possession of evidence demonstrating proof of life of five civilian and eleven military hostages held by the FARC. The proof of life evidence was addressed to Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt in one of the images that prove she was still alive in October of this year.

November 30, 2007 ( – Colombia announced today that
authorities arrested three people presumed to belong to urban militias of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Bogotá late Thursday, who were
found in possession of five videos and seven letters and a digital memory card
with photographs demonstrating proof of life of five civilian and eleven
military hostages held by the FARC, including French Colombian citizen Ingrid
Betancourt and three US defense contractors. The videos and other documents
showing proof of life were addressed to Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba and
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The son of Ingrid
Betancourt, Lorenzo Betancourt, said the proof that his mother is alive is
thanks to the mediation of President Chavez. However, he expressed concern over
her health and asked that Chavez's mediation be renewed to secure her release
as soon as possible.

The proof
of life of the hostages appears only a week after Colombian president Alvaro
Uribe unilaterally terminated the mediating role of Chavez and Cordoba, who
were working to secure the release of the hostages and had assured that "proof
of life would arrive any minute."

In an
interview with Telesur, Codroba, who is now under investigation by the Supreme
Court for "crimes of treason against the homeland and collusion," defended her
role and said that the proof of life of the hostages demonstrates that the
mediation of herself and the Venezuelan president was being undertaken with
complete seriousness and responsibility.

Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos Restrepo confirmed in a press conference
this morning that of the five videos, four of them were filmed during October
23-24 of this year.

One video
shows Betancourt, who was last confirmed alive in a video released in 2003. Another
video, dated January 1, 2007, shows three U.S.
defense contractors captured by the FARC in 2003 when their surveillance plane
crashed in the jungle in the south of Colombia.

Among the
seven letters was one written by Army Lieutenant Raimundo Malagón Castellanos
addressed to President Chavez and dated 23 of October 2007. Another letter was from
Betancourt, addressed to her mother Yolanda Pulecio and dated October24, 2007.

President Nicholas Sarkozy told reporters in Paris that the authenticity of the material
is "indisputable" and that the proof of life of the hostages "encourages us to
redouble our efforts to obtain their liberation."

In a
statement released today, the Committee in Solidarity with Ingrid Betancourt in
Paris also said
that the proof of life of the hostages demonstrated the effectiveness of the
mediation of President Chavez and Senator Cordoba.

does not look her best," the statement continued, "this increases our sense of
worry. It is urgent that Ingrid is liberated." The statement also called for
the "re-initiation" of the mediation of Chavez and Cordoba, "together with the Colombian

relations remain "frozen" between Venezuela
and Colombia after Venezuela
recalled its ambassador from Bogotá to evaluate relations after Uribe
terminated the mediations for a hostage exchange and accused Chavez of
"legitimizing terrorism."

Chavez has
responded by saying that Uribe has no political will for peace and used invalid
arguments and lied to terminate the humanitarian exchange. He declared he will
not have relations with Colombia
while Uribe remains president.

Venezuela has not
yet formally broken off relations, but Colombian business groups are worried
that the dispute could affect trade between the two countries. Venezuela is Colombia's
second largest trading partner after the U.S.

Advisory Commission on Foreign Relations of Colombia will assess relations
between the two countries on December 5 and has proposed that both Brazil and Ecuador
facilitate a dialogue between Caracas
and Bogotá.

Ex-Foreign Minister of Brazil, Francisco Rezek said today that "Brazil has all
the conditions to contribute" to a solution of the divergences between the two