An 11 year old boy in the early morning hours started out on a 100 km walk for his father, a soldier, who the boy doesn’t know because he had been kidnapped by the FARC guerrilla forces just a little before the boy had been born, the boy had stated on Thursday.
This march “is for my father’s freedom and the freedom of all who have been kidnapped”, the young Johan Steven Martínez stated, as he began his walk that would take him from the town of Ospina to the city of Pasto, the capital of the department of Nariño (on the border with Ecuador).
Johan’s father, Army sergeant Libio José Martínez, was kidnapped on 21 December 1997 in a bloody attack by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) on soldiers who were guarding a communications station on a hill in the southern part of the country.
11 soldiers were killed and 18 more were kidnapped during the attack. Of these kidnapped soldiers, only Martínez and Sergeant Pablo Emilio Moncayo still are being held by the FARC forces.
Johan started his march on Wednesday accompanied by hundreds of the inhabitants of the town of Ospina and 30km later they spent the night at a site located near the town of Túquerres, from where he resumed his journey this Thursday, which he hopes he will finish on Friday in Pasto.
Last April 16th the rebel group announced that they would turn over Moncayo to a commission headed by the opponent Senator Piedad Córdoba and the soldier’s father. Professor Gustavo Moncayo, who is known throughout the country and abroad for his extensive marches that he has taken to try to insure the release of his son.
Nevertheless, President Alvaro Uribe rejected the conditions and stated that he would only allow a delegation of representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and from the Catholic Church to participate in procuring his freedom.
Martínez and Moncayo are part of a group of 22 soldiers, which also includes a general from the Police Force (who was promoted to this rank while being held captive) by the FARC forces several years ago, and who the rebel forces are trying to exchange for some 500 of their soldiers who are incarcerated, including three of their soldiers who are being held in the United States.