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FARC rejects French medical aid to Betancourt

Latest update : 2008-04-09

A French medical mission to aid hostage Ingrid Betancourt has been rejected by the Colombian guerrilla FARC. "Our actions are not determined by blackmail or by the media," the FARC said in a press release. (Story: J.Jackson)

A French medical mission to aid French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt has been rejected by the Colombian guerrilla group FARC, who have held her captive for six years. "Our actions are not determined by blackmail or by the media," the FARC said in a press release published by the Agencia Bolivariana de Prensa, a news site close to the Marxist rebels.

Stephen Ambrus, a Newsweek correspondent in Colombia, told FRANCE 24: “This doesn’t come as a surprise.  The FARC is a ruthless movement.  People make the mistake of thinking that the previous releases, including that of Carla Rojas, were a humanitarian gesture, when in fact they were efforts to involve Hugo Chavez, and to pressure the world community to take them off the terrorist lists.”

Reacting to the latest
communiqué from FARC which called for the intervention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Astrid Betancourt, sister of the hostage, told FRANCE 24, “France has a proposal (for a prisoner exchange); this needs to go to the FARC by way of Chavez.” 

Betancourt is being held at an unknown location in the southeast of the country by the rebels. According to Colombian reports and witness accounts, she had been refusing food and medical care for the past five weeks.

French mission on hold

FRANCE 24’s correspondents visited San Jose del Guaviare, a town of about 50,000 inhabitants. Ingrid Betancourt was reportedly seen for the last time in a village near the town.


Local hospital authorities say they are ready to help in any potential mission, but have had no notification about the French effort. “In case they need our services, we have all the medicine and products that may be needed,” Juan David Osorio, director of San Jose’s hospital, told FRANCE 24.

The Marxist rebels reiterated last week in a statement that any hostage release would come "if there is an exchange of prisoners." The group wants to swap its most prominent hostages, including Betancourt, for 500 jailed rebels.

Date created : 2008-04-08