Colombian rebels have released two women hostages, Hugo Chavez said in a press conference today, as Red Cross helicopters were flying the freed Colombians to Caracas. The women, both held in the jungle for years, are Consuelo Gonzalez, a politician, and Clara Rojas, an aide to former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Betancourt remains one of 700 captives still held by FARC, a group of the Marxist insurgents.
An earlier attempt by Chavez to broker a release, which was to include Rojas' three-year-old son Emmanuel, fell through on New Year’s Eve, after Emmanuel turned out to be in foster care in Bogota. The US and the EU both classify FARC a terrorist organization; the group has been trying to overthrow the Colombian government since the 1960s.