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The Collective
Thursday, May 17, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Farc hostage escapes in Colombia

A Colombian policeman held hostage by left-wing Farc rebels for nearly nine years has escaped his captors.

Jhon Frank Pinchao said he spent 17 days lost in the jungle before he was found by an army patrol on Wednesday.


He said he had been waiting for an opportunity to escape for eight-and-a-half years and when his captors finally let down their guard he seized the chance.

He told how he walked, swam and crawled through the Amazon jungle in the eastern province of Vaupes for days before he stumbled on the army patrol.

Mr Pinchao was seized by the Farc - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - when the rebels attacked the town of Mitu in 1998.

The kidnapping and holding of victims for years on end is one of the many insidious features of the violence in Colombia. The notion of spending almost a decade moving from camp to camp as a prisoner, never knowing if one is ever going to return to one’s family and friends is a pretty hideous existence-not to mention what it would mean to have nine years carved out of your life and thrown away.

Pinchao was held, it should be noted, with some high-profile hostages:

He said he was held in a camp with three US intelligence agents and Colombia’s former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.


“The last time I saw them was 28 April,” he said.

Ms Betancourt, who has dual Colombian-French nationality, was seized in February 2002 while campaigning for president in southern Colombia.

The three Americans were captured in February 2003 after their plane came down during a surveillance mission in the south of the country.

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Filed under: Colombia | |

1 Comment

  1. What does the FARC hope to accomplish by holding these prisoners for so long? Do they try to negotiate using them as leverage or do they just keep them?

    Comment by Jan — Thursday, May 17, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

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