Ex-Governor Freed By FARC Criticizes Uribe's Handling of Crisis

Alan Jara, the former governor of Meta, was freed yesterday after being held captive in the jungle by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for over 7 years. Guerrillas with the FARC handed Jara over to members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The release was mediated by Piedad Cordoba, a leftist opposition senator. Jara, 51, boarded a helicopter and traveled to Villavicencio, 56 miles southeast of Bogota, where his family was waiting. A tearful reunion followed.

Jara spoke to the press immediately following his release and was critical of the way the current President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe has handled the hostage situation with the FARC.

"I feel deeply that Uribe did nothing for our freedom," he told reporters, emphasizing the need for the president to negotiate a prisoner swap with FARC. "It's urgent we do the swap. We can't wait any longer because (the hostages) are literally rotting away in the jungle,"

Contrary to popular reports, Jara says that the FARC movement is strong, with many young members joining to replace those older leaders killed or captured recently by the Colombian government.

"The solution is a political one. These past few weeks that I have been walking, I lived the day-to-day life of the guerrillas, and the FARC are not defeated...that's why I see no other way out than negotiations," Jara said.