Jesse Jackson mediates in Colombian hostage negotiation

By George Chidi
Saturday, September 28, 2013 23:08 EDT
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US Reverend Jesse Jackson arrives to pay his respects to deceased Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez, in Caracas, on March 7, 2013.  Photo via AFP.
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Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson told CNN that the release of an American held by Colombian rebels for more than three months is imminent, despite the reservations of Colombia’s President about a media spectacle during negotiations.

Jackson met with representatives of Colombian rebel group FARC in Havana to seek the release of former U.S. Marine and Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Scott Sutay, held hostage since June.

Jackson asked the Red Cross in Colombia for a helicopter to take Sutay to safety from the jungle, he told CNN on Saturday. FARC earlier said that they had been willing to free Sutay but that “the Colombian government did not provide the minimum necessary conditions we need for this procedure,” such as assurances of safety during the transfer, CNN reported.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, accuse Santos of being a mercenary, but said they were willing to release him as a goodwil gesture and asked for Jackson’s assistance during the negotiations.

The Colombian government and President Juan Manuel Santos rejected Jackson’s mediation in Colombia itself, with Santos describing Jackson’s involvement as “a media spectacle” and allowing only the Red Cross to be directly involved, the BBC reported.

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