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Motorized Caravan for the Release of Kidnapping Victims in Colombia Arrives in Europe

By Dialogo
September 25, 2009

Madrid, 23 September (EFE).- The motorized caravan for the release of kidnapping victims in Colombia, in which former FARC hostages and their relatives are participating, in addition to volunteers, will cross the Atlantic in order to visit cities in Spain, France, and Italy over the course of eighteen days, prior to arriving at the Vatican to receive a papal blessing. This activity has already taken place in Colombia, with 32,000 people participating, and is coming to Europe because, following “the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and the Americans in Operation Jacque, those who are still kidnapped there have been forgotten,” the promoter of the action, Herbin Hoyos, maintained today in a press conference in Madrid. “And there is nothing crueler than that, because when the international community is present and paying attention, the authors of the conflicts take care not to engage in ill-treatment or fall into the worst degradation,” added the Colombian reporter, internationally recognized for his radio program “The Voices of Kidnapping.” Hoyos said that the caravan came into being when he saw what was being done by the police who are members of the association “Fraternity of the Disabled” (Frapón) in Colombia, who despite having been mutilated and being in wheelchairs, go out on the roads of their country to call for “the liberty of their kidnapped colleagues.” “If these men who go as far as injuring their hands moving their wheelchairs do this, why can’t we do it, who can use motorcycles,” reflected the reporter, who has for sixteen years provided the only space on the radio that allows the FARC’s hostages to receive news of their families. The caravan, which will leave Bogotá on 3 November and will arrive in Madrid by air, will cover 5,200 kilometers and will be made up of a hundred persons coming from Colombia, among them former hostages of the FARC “like the Vallejo sisters, who are the latest to be freed, and some of those freed in Operation Jacque,” Hoyos announced. On the 6th, the mayor of the Spanish city of Valencia, Rita Barberá, will welcome the caravan, which may take a spin on the Cheste track, used for speed tests. The group will arrive in Barcelona a day later and will then travel to Paris, where its members will be welcomed on Monday the 9th by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the mayor of the “City of Light,” Bertrand Delanoe. The French localities of Lyons and Marseilles and the Italian localities of Genoa and Florence will be the final stops before the caravan arrives in Rome, where on Sunday the 15th the group will be in St Peter’s Square to await Benedict XVI’s blessing at noon. “We are working to have the Pope come down to give us a blessing close at hand,” Hoyos announced. The organizers have made arrangements with a variety of civil-society groups so that any volunteer who takes up the cause in the cities through which the caravan passes may join in the journey.
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