Twelve-year FARC Hostage, Colombian Sergeant Escapes

By Dialogo
November 29, 2011

Colombian Police Sergeant Luis Alberto Erazo returned to Bogotá on November 27, after 12 years of captivity by FARC rebels, a day after managing to escape during a battle as four other hostages were executed.

Erazo, 40, who had been held by the Marxist rebels since December 9, 1999, arrived in the capital by helicopter and was taken in an ambulance to a hospital for treatment, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The sergeant, who suffered shrapnel wounds to the face as rebels in hot pursuit tossed a grenade at him, made no comment to the media. He was reunited with his girlfriend, his 16-year-old daughter and other family members.

Erazo escaped from a rebel encampment in southern Colombia on November 26, where Colombian Army forces were hunting for possible hostages. During the clash, FARC rebels executed four hostages but Erazo was later found alive.

President Juan Manual Santos visited Erazo on November 27, saying it was “really moving to see this national hero” but also hailing the “heroism” of the four hostages killed “in cold blood.”

Santos also said he had “mixed feelings, seeing the happiness of this sergeant and his family, while at the same time understanding the pain of the other four families.”

The hostages had been held at a FARC encampment in the remote Solano region of southern Colombia.

Those who died were identified as Colonel Edgar Yesid Duarte, Lieutenants Elkin Hernandez and Alvaro Moreno, and Sergeant Jose Libio Martinez, the FARC’s longest-held hostage who was abducted nearly 14 years ago in a rebel ambush.

After the latest executions, 14 police and soldiers remain in FARC hands. Some have spent more than a decade in captivity.