Hundreds of thousands filled the streets of Colombia this Sunday to protest the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has terrorized the country for over four decades through a campiagn of violence and kidnapping and continues to hold 2,800 hostages. The crowd gathered in Laticia, a city that borders the jungle where many FARC camps lay hidden. An emotional Shakira sang the country’s national anthem as well as a duet with fellow Colombiano Carlos Vives for the enthralled audience, which included dignitaries such as Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Dilva and Peruvian leader Alan Garcia.
Protests were held on July 21st, traditionally celebrated as Colombia's Independence Day, in more than 40 cities all over the world, including London, Sydney, New York and Paris, home of Colombian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt. Betancourt, who was recently rescued after 6 years of captivity said she wanted these protests to convey “a message of hope for those who are still there and act as a tribute to those who will not return.” She called on FARC rebels to begin peaceful negotiations with current Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and read a list of names of those still being held hostage.
Juanes, well known for his political activism in Colombia, joined Betancourt in Paris for the Concierto por la Libertad (The Concert for Freedom), where he performed several of his hits, including La Paga and Camisa Negra. Bentancourt has been a fan of the rockero since his meteoric rise to stardom in the years before she was captured and said she hoped the concert would build “a bridge of love between France and Colombia.”