A Colombian grandfather to the children of a U.S. defense contractor held by leftist rebels offered Saturday to take his place in captivity, saying the man’s twin four-year-olds should finally meet their father.
Campo Elias Medina said he will send a letter and photos of the children to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, asking if he can replace his daughter’s boyfriend, Keith Stansell, who was kidnapped more than four years ago.
“They should take me as a hostage so that he can be released from captivity,” Medina told RCN news. “I think it’s more important that (the children) have their father at their side than their grandfather, and plus I’m already 55 years old.”
Latin America’s largest guerrilla army took Stansell and two other U.S. defense contractors hostage after their plane crashed in the thick jungles of southern Colombia while they were on an intelligence gathering mission in February 2003.
The men are among the longest-held U.S. hostages in the world, and there has only been one so-called “proof of life,” video of them, filmed by a Colombian journalist months after they were kidnapped.
The Red Cross will deliver Stansell’s letter to the FARC, but the request is likely to be rejected.
The rebels are demanding a comprehensive swap of some 60 prominent hostages, including the three Americans and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, for all imprisoned FARC members, including two high-ranking guerrillas held in the U.S.
The government of President Alvaro Uribe began transferring imprisoned rebels from a prison to a temporary holding center Friday under a plan to release about 200 jailed guerrillas who agree to demobilize. While more than a thousand rebels remain behind bars, the government hopes the FARC will respond with their own gesture.
But following the FARC’s official line, many imprisoned rebels have rejected the offer, saying the only solution is a negotiated settlement that includes the temporary demilitarization of a zone in southwest Colombia.