12 kidnapped lawmakers plea for help in Colombia

Twelve kidnapped lawmakers pleaded with President Alvaro Uribe to jumpstart stalled talks with their leftist rebel captors in a video released Friday by the insurgents.

12 kidnapped lawmakers  plea for help in Colombia

Twelve kidnapped lawmakers pleaded with President Alvaro Uribe to jumpstart stalled talks with their leftist rebel captors in a video released Friday by the insurgents.

The legislators are among about 60 politicians, soldiers and police — including three American defense contractors — held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Latin America's oldest and best-armed guerrilla movement.

"We've waited five painful years for the government and the FARC to show their political and historical backbone and reach an agreement to set us free," former state legislator Edinson Perez said in the video. He held up his palm to the camera, scribbled with the words "Until when?"

The video, the first proof of life of the lawmakers in seven months, was viewed Friday by weeping family members in the same state legislature where their loved ones were abducted five years ago by a commando rebel unit disguised as soldiers.

The hostages were shown repeating calls for Uribe to concede to rebel demands for an 310-square-mile safe haven near Cali, Colombia's third largest city, to conduct talks aimed at negotiating the exchange of the hostages for hundreds of jailed rebels.

After the video's release, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos reiterated the government's refusal to grant the request, saying, "the government had explained over and over such a proposal was unacceptable."

Despite government backing, rebels have chafed at a proposal by Spain, France and Switzerland for a much smaller demilitarized zone for talks.

Although a reconciliation is unlikely anytime soon, family members were encouraged by the video.

"We're very happy," Fabiola Perdomo, wife of kidnapped lawmaker Juan Carlos Narvaez, told The Associated Press. "The video was taken less than 15 days ago and they seem to be in good health."

The FARC also holds three U.S. military contractors who were captured in February 2003 after their small plane crashed into a rebel stronghold during an anti-drug mission.

Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2007, 11:28
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