Videos of nine hostages held by Colombian rebels were turned over to their families Monday as proof they remain alive.
Videos of six Colombian police officers and three soldiers were obtained by Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who has been a liaison between the
government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC,
in efforts to release the hostages.
Each man appears in a separate video, three to six minutes long, speaking to the camera either at a desk in front of a curtain or in a dark jungle refuge. Some appear pale with dark circles under their eyes.
They urge the Colombian government to do more to negotiate for their freedom.
Army Sgt. Maj. Arvey Delgado, who has been held since 1998, noted the army's dramatic rescue last summer of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans and asked: "What are we... animals?"
Hilda Duarte, sister of captive police Col. Edgar Yesid Duarte, said she is happy to know he remains alive "but very sad because he's in very bad shape."
"He's like an old man. Even though he's only 45 years old, he looks 60," she said between sobs.
The FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, holds at least 24 Colombian soldiers and police officers. The rebels have said they would free such hostages in exchange for imprisoned guerrillas.
President Alvaro Uribe's government has rejected any such exchange and has demanded the rebels free their captives unilaterally.
Among those in the videos is senior police officer Luis Mendieta, 52, who was captured in 1998 and promoted from colonel to general in April - making him the highest-ranking Colombian official held by the rebels.
Uribe has authorized Cordoba, along with the Catholic Church and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to seek the release of hostages. Cordoba, an opposition politician, says the government's continued military operations against the FARC make releases difficult.
She provided footage of two hostages in mid-August and said she hopes videos of others will be released soon. Cordoba doesn't give specifics on how she obtains the images, only saying they come through confidential channels.
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