Piedad Córdoba, the Woman Devoted to FARC Releases
With a long career in the Colombian Congress, Piedad Córdoba became known around the world thanks to her work to arrange the release of the political, police, and Military hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a task she judged complete with the handover of the last ten hostages on April 2.
“We brought a cycle to a close,” Córdoba said as she looked back on her work together with the group Colombians for Peace, shortly after leaving six police officers and four Military personnel in Villavicencio, south of Bogotá, following their release by the guerrilla group at the end of over 12 years in captivity.
“We obtained it through dialogue, without shedding a drop of blood, with respect for the other, and with the conviction that Colombia wants peace. War has to be a shame for this country; peace is democracy,” she added upon reiterating her desire to collaborate in the search for a political solution to the armed conflict that has lasted almost half a century in Colombia.
Over four years, Córdoba participated as a facilitator in the release of 30 hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a communist group), earning her the recognition of their families and also removal from office as a senator two years ago, after she was disqualified by the Attorney-General’s Office, which considered that she had overstepped the bounds in those activities and maintained ties with the guerrilla group.
Córdoba was born in Medellín on January 25, 1955. At a very young age, she joined the Liberal Party, within which she now promotes the formation of a more leftist current.
On the Liberal Party ticket, she was elected to Congress for the first time in 1992, as a representative to the lower house. Between 1994 and 2010, she was a senator for the same party.
At the same time, she founded the civil-society movement Colombians for Peace, which brings together community and leftist leaders, and on which she has drawn for support in promoting hostage releases.
She also created the group Women of the World for Peace, which includes the Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchú, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Argentine founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Mirta Acuña, and the writers Elena Poniatowska and Isabel Allende, from Mexico and Chile, respectively.
Córdoba began these activities in 2007, when she was formally named a mediator, together with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, to obtain an exchange of hostages held by the Colombian guerrilla group for imprisoned guerrillas.
At that time, she toured various countries in Latin America and Europe, while the international press published photos of her both alongside FARC commanders and accompanied by the late former Argentine president Néstor Kirchner or former Brazilian presidential advisor Marco Aurelio García.
Córdoba is the mother of four children who live abroad.