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Approximately 250 Motorcyclists Complete Convoy for Freedom of Hostages in Bogotá

By Dialogo
April 14, 2009

Bogota, April 12 (EFE) - Today approximately 250 Colombian motorcyclists arrived in Bogota, finishing a cross-country journey nearly 4,000 kilometers long to demand the release of more than 2,800 hostages in that country. "We can say that today we managed to break through the country’s indifference over the forgotten hostages," journalist Herbin Hoyos, head of the initiative, told Efe. The motorcyclists had as their goal the central Bolivar Plaza in Bogota, from which the "motor convoy for freedom of the hostages" had departed on March 26. The convoy was then led by the 35 motorcyclists, led by Hoyos, who departed accompanied by former Congressman Luis Eladio Perez, who had been held hostage by the FARC until his release in February 2008. The journey, during which the number of motorcycles in the convoy increased, led them through many cities in 17 of the country's 32 departments, including the southern town of Narino, where they exchanged national flags between the bordering towns of Ipiales (Colombia) and Tulcan (Ecuador) as an act of brotherhood. "With this convoy, we have initiated a great crusade for the hostages that the country has ignored, who have not been remembered because they were not reported in the media and who are only claimed by their families," said the journalist, himself a past captive of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The experience led him in 1994 to create the program "Voices of Kidnapping," which is open to the families of victims of this crime and which airs each Sunday at dawn on the Caracol Radio network. "It's a crusade to keep the hostages from being forgotten, and we will continue calling to all sectors of the country to bring every one back home," he said Hoyos, who now plans to organize international convoys. One of them will take place in the United States, from Los Angeles to New York, and another one will travel from Madrid to Rome, with stops in Barcelona, Paris, Lyon (France), and the Italian cities of Genoa and Florence, said the journalist. During the journey, Hoyos and two other motorcyclists offered to deliver their equipment to three guerrilla members who, at a time coinciding with the end of the convoy, would defect from the FARC, each taking a hostage with them. Hoyos told Efe that he had not received reports on whether the offer would have encouraged some rebels to abandon their weapons and flee with a captive. Of the hostages in Colombia, just over 700 are in the hands of the FARC, which is holding 22 of them with the intention of trading them for half a thousand imprisoned rebels by negotiating a humanitarian exchange agreement with the government of President Álvaro Uribe. The rebels recently confirmed that they are ready to negotiate this agreement, for which they waived their demand to use a demilitarized territory as a venue for dialogue. In response, last week Uribe urged them to suspend hostilities as a condition for opening a dialogue for peace.