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Colombian rebels to free three hostages soon
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13:30, February 05, 2008

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Relatives of the three kidnapped Colombian legislators the nation's largest rebel group has promised to release arrived in Venezuela Monday convinced that a handover would soon take place.

"We hope to meet with Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba to finalize details, because we are convinced that this liberation will soon come," said Juan Lozada, son of FARC hostage Gloria Polanco.

FARC said Saturday that it plans to free Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez and Orlando Beltran, all have been held for more than six years, because of their health problems. It said that it was doing so as a gesture of respect for the role played by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Juan Lozada traveled to Caracas alongside his brother Andres and relatives of Perez and Beltran, to meet Cordoba, who has volunteered to work for the hostages' freedom. Both Chavez and Cordoba were fired from their mediation roles between the government and FARC in November, because the Colombian government said they had broken protocol.

"We have worried constantly about her health. She said in a letter that she gets knots of muscular inflammation in her neck and that they go up to her head," said Juan. "The important thing is that we will have her with us in a few days so that we can give her the proper medical checks."

Polanco was kidnapped alongside her two sons in the southeastern Colombia city of Neiba in 2001. Her sons were released three years later after a large sum of money had been supposedly paid in ransom.

Polaco's husband, Jaime Lozada, was murdered in 2005 in unclear circumstances. Authorities said that Lozada, a senator, had failed to pay a ransom demanded by FARC.

On Jan. 10, FARC released Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez to Venezuelan officials, via an operation using helicopters with Red Cross markings in southeastern Colombia.

Alongside Rojas and Gonzalez, FARC released images of hostages that showed Polanco, Perez and Beltran were very ill, triggering an international uproar for their release.

Perez was kidnapped in 2004 in Narino province, which borders Ecuador, and Beltran in Huila in 2001. Both suffer from serious hypertension.

Source: Xinhua



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