FARC hostage urges rebel-government talks

Sigfredo Lopez, former Colombian lawmaker held by FARC rebels, accused the government and his captors of "cruelty and barbarism" for refusing to negotiate a prisoner swap deal in a video clip made public on Saturday. (Report: C.Westerheide)


A former Colombian lawmaker captured by FARC rebels a year ago accused the guerrillas and the government of "cruelty and barbarism" for refusing to negotiate a prisoner swap deal, in a video clip made public Saturday.

"This is the last chance" rebel-held hostages have to "come back alive," Sigfredo Lopez said in the recording made in October and turned over to the Roman Catholic Church by the rebels to prove their captive was still alive.

Lopez, the only survivor among 12 lawmakers who died in captivity last year, urged the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government of President Alvaro Uribe to end their stalemate and negotiate a prisoner swap deal.

The FARC is holding some 750 hostages, including 39 high-profile hostages whom they want to swap for some 500 of their imprisoned comrades. Uribe, however, refuses to give in to the rebel demand for a demilitarized zone as a precondition for talks.

Lopez said both sides "keep showing the world their cruelty and barbarism" by not giving ground on the territorial issue.

The former lawmaker said he placed "all my trust" in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombian Senator Pieadad Cordoba, who since November have been trying to mediate a "humanitarian agreement" between FARC and Uribe.

FARC unilaterally released a few hostages earlier this year, but ended the overture after the Colombian army raided one of their camps inside Ecuador killing their second in command Raul Reyes.

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