The Brazilian government said on February 27 it would provide air transport and a support team to help Colombia’s leftist rebels release their remaining hostages.
The day before, Colombia’s FARC rebels pledged to stop kidnapping for ransom and to release all 10 remaining “prisoners of war,” marking a historic shift in Latin America’s last major insurgency.
The Brazilian Defense Ministry said through a spokesman that it would provide two helicopters and a support aircraft with a team for the operation.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that Brasilia was ready to provide the assistance pending an official request from Colombia.
Brazil has taken part in previous such release operations, the last one of which took place a year ago when it provided military aircraft bearing Red Cross markings.
Earlier this month, Colombian deputy Defense Minister Jorge Bedoya said that Brazil had accepted a request from Bogotá to take part in the release of the detainees still held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
FARC made the concessions three months after it set off massive anti-rebel protests throughout the country by allegedly executing four long-time hostages during a government raid.
“We have often talked about the kidnappings of men and women from the civilian population, that we, the FARC, have carried out for financial reasons to help support our struggle,” it said in its statement on February 26.
“We are announcing that, from this date, we are outlawing these practices in the framework of our revolutionary activity,” read the statement, released via their website.
The FARC statement however stopped short of agreeing to cease hostilities with the government and failed to spell out if Colombian security forces would still be considered legitimate targets for hostage-taking.