On July 2nd, Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate and mother of two, three American contractors—Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes—and eleven Colombian police and soldiers were freed after suffering many years of inhumane captivity by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Like so many in Colombia and around the world, we at the Latin America Working Group were overjoyed to learn of their release—finally, after being separated for so long, these hostages have been reunited with their loved ones and can go on with their lives.
Even after this release, the FARC still holds many hostages, in extremely harsh conditions, throughout Colombia. So, even as we celebrate the freeing of some, we also want to again express our solidarity with the remaining hostages and their families. We call on the FARC to unconditionally release the rest of their hostages and to explicitly renounce the practice of hostage-taking, which violates international law. We hope that the Colombian government seizes the opportunities of this dynamic moment by pursuing a just and lasting peace with the FARC guerrillas that will help bring to an end the human rights tragedy currently gripping Colombia.