Colombia Offers Swap: Hostages for Prisoners

FARC must release ailing Betancourt for deal to go through
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2008 10:43 AM CDT
Former Colombia Senator Luis Eladio Perez, who spent six and a half years as a FARC hostage, and Anita Betancourt, the sister of hostage Ingrid Betancourt, arrive for a press conference, March 18.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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(Newser) – After more than 6 years in captivity, Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt will go free if FARC agrees to a deal Alvaro Uribe signed off on last night, the Guardian reports. The Colombian president issued a decree saying the country will release imprisoned rebel fighters in exchange for Betancourt, a onetime presidential candidate believed to be seriously ill with hepatitis B and a tropical skin disease.

“The government has joined the national and international cry that the life of Ingrid Betancourt be saved,” said the Colombian peace commissioner. “There is no more time to wait.” Farc has long wanted to swap the hundreds of hostages it holds for its jailed members, but Colombia's demand that freed guerrillas promise not to return to FARC's ranks looms as a sticking point, the BBC reports.