Former FARC Hostages Recount Experiences in Captivity

By Dialogo
April 05, 2012

The six Colombian police officers released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) following more than a decade in captivity said at a press conference that they were chained for many years.

“For many years, we were chained to one another. This was already a humiliation,” Police Intendant Carlos José Duarte said at a joint press conference, 24 hours after recovering his freedom.

For his part, Sergeant César Augusto Lasso recalled that during their years of captivity, they were always guarded “two meters away” by a guerrilla, and “we had restricted space and movement.”

The six police officers agreed that they succeeded in keeping up their spirits and strength thanks to the fact that they “always” had contact with the outside world via radio, through which they received messages from their families and from society.

It was precisely on the radio that they found out about the April 28, 2007, escape of police officer John Frank Pinchao, after being held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a communist group) for more than eight years. “It made us very happy and gave us strength to try it ourselves,” Sgt. Lasso recalled.

The ones who tried were Sergeant José Libardo Forero and Intendant Jorge Trujillo, who escaped on a rainy night, September 15, 2009. In order to orient themselves in the middle of the jungle, they made a “compass with a needle and a knife.

“By the mercy of the Lord, a firefly appeared, which you pinch and it gives light, and I could find the direction that way,” Forero said.

For the escape, they collected cookies, arepas (corn cakes), and manioc (yuca flour), which allowed them to survive the first 16 days, until they were able to fish. They also found a hidden supply cache belonging to the guerrilla group and attacked it, he specified.

They were recaptured by the guerrilla group on October 16 of that year, however, at the house of a rural worker where they had stopped for lunch.

“When we left, the guerrilla group caught us, and we knew that they were going to shoot us. They stripped us and threw us down on the ground,” Forero said.

“I told the guerrillas: don’t humiliate us further, because we’re tired of you humiliating us. If you’re going to shoot, shoot us, but God’s will was that we went back (into captivity),” he recalled.

The six members of the Colombian police agreed that every time an Army plane approached, they feared for their lives.

They also said that the FARC has “problems,” is “weakened,” and no longer “has the same supply network,” but they stressed that “it’s not defeated.”