October closed in Colombia with a news that calls the attention of the international public opinion: A new military success in the release of FARC hostagues, this time of former Senator Oscar Tulio Lizcano from the hands of FARC guerrillas. In this case, the success had the full support of one of the guerrilla men, who was in charge of the Senator. Known as “Isaza”, the ex-FARC guerrilla decided that it was enough not only for the Colombian politician, who has been kidnapped for eight years, but also for him. The pressure of the Colombian troops in the area and an intensive communication campaign directed to the guerrillas to surround and get official benefits, played an important role in the decision of Isaza. Senator Lizcano was kidnapped by FARC on 5th August 2000, just in the moment that the same guerrilla organization was having the Caguán Peace Dialogues with the government of former President Andrés Pastrana. The event was seen by many observers like unfair, showing a bad will of the FARC in the dialogue process of the time. At the moment, the organization, classified as terrorist by USA, the European Community, Colombia and other Latin American countries like Mexico, has other 28 kidnapped persons considered by FARC as “exchangeable” inside the logic of its political strategy to make pressure on the Colombian State.
Isaza, the guerrilla who helpped Sen Lizcano to escape, was moved by his delicate state of health and the hearing of the promised benefits offered to desert the guerrilla by the goverment of President Álvaro Uribe. Isaza proposed to Sen Lizcano to cross the tropical and humid jungle to escape the territory controled by FARC, located in the north of the Colombian Pacific Coast region, in the Chocó State. The two men spent three days and three nights walking without food through the jungle in an adventure worth of a movie, according with the words of Sen Lizcano to the Colombian mass medias. They only drunk water from streams.
“I think we left at nine, during the night, through the beautiful rivers and streams of Chocó. We walked all the night and we hid during the day. Isaza had a grenade and a rifle. We did not sleep for 72 hours and we were always afraid. We hid during the day and we were always worry of the persecusion”, said Sen Lizcano to Caracol Broadcasting.
President Uribe declared that ex-guerrilla Isaza will receive a reward for his action and will be sent to France with his wife. Paris offered to give refuge to FARC guerrillas who abandon the fighting organization, contribute to the peace in Colombia and help in the release of hostagues. The decisition of Isaza meant a success in the campaign of President Uribe to invite guerrillas to abandon the guns and accept the offered benefits.
In his first words after his release, Sen Lizcano said in an air military base:
“Sorry if I said something illogic, but I have eight years without the possibility to say something. The guerrillas who guarded me, did not allow me to do so…”
The words of Sen Lizcano showing the drama of the FARC hostagues and the reward for Isaza, are already at the center of a big discussion in Colombia. For many, the political validity of an organization that uses this kind of pressures on the Colombian society is in crisis. El Espectador, an independent national newspaper, said in its editorial of October 27 that FARC lost once more its political way with this kind of actions. At his part, Sen Lizcano sent a message of hope to the other FARC hostagues and said that he prefers other ways of release out of military confrontations.