The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels recently released videos to family members of nine kidnapped hostages as proof that they were still alive.
Videos of the soldiers and police officers were handed over to Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has been acting as a liaison between the government and the rebel forces in an attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages. The videos come right on the heels of information that the FARC rebels recently released concerning two other soldiers who had been kidnapped in 2007 and 2008.
Each man was seen in a separate video, approximately three to six minutes long, and some appeared pale and had dark circles under their eyes. All of the men were kidnapped between 1997 and 1999 and little was known about their condition until the videos were released. The men are frustrated and urge the Colombian government to secure their release. One of them asked, in reference to the dramatic rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors last year, "What are we...animals?"
Hilda Duarte, sister of captive police Col. Edgar Yesid Duarte, said she is happy to know he remains alive, ''but very sad because he's in very bad shape. He's like an old man. Even though he's only 45 years old, he looks 60,'' she sobbed to The New York Times.
The FARC currently holds 24 Colombian soldiers and police officers and has demanded the release of captured guerillas in exchange for their freedom. But President Alvaro Uribe has rejected any such deal and has demanded the immediate release of all hostages.