Colombian boy walks 70 km to seek father’s release

July 4th, 2010 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bogota, July 4 (IANS/EFE) A 12-year-old Colombian boy participated in a 70-km trekking campaign seeking the release of his father and others held hostage by rebels since 1997.
Johan Stiven was in his mother’s womb when his father Jose Libio Martinez, a Colombian soldier, was taken captive in 1997 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel group. The boy walked 100 km in May on the same mission.

Accompanied by some 80 people, the boy began his trek Friday evening from Pasto, the capital of the southwestern province of Nariño, to Ancuya.

The “walking boy” said before beginning his trek that he wanted to send a message to the rebel group: “I’ve fought a lot for my father and will keep fighting.”

He said that he didn’t want to think about the “physical fatigue” and he will “make this effort not only for him but for all those who are being held hostage”.

Around 60 people were held hostage by the FARC rebels who wanted to secure release of some 500 guerrillas languishing in jails.

Of them, 15 hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three US military contractors, Colombian police officers and soldiers, were rescued in July 2008 by the army. Four other members of the Colombian security forces were rescued last month.

The FARC, which has been fighting against the Colombian government for more than four decades, says the remaining hostages - 19 security personnel - will be freed in exchange for rebel prisoners.

–IANS/EFE

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