Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and a former Democratic
Party presidential candidate, has gone to Latin America to engage Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in efforts to release three US defense contractors who have been held by FARC rebels in Colombia for more than five years. Richardson, says Chavez–who has been persona non grata in Washington circles because of his outspoken anti-American and populist views–can play a pivotal role in negotiating with the FARC rebels for the release of the three US citizens, as well as a number of Colombians and a French woman.
VOICEOVER: New Mexico’s governor and former presidential candidate Bill Richardson is turning his attention to Colombia. Richardson is calling on Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, for help in negotiating the release of three Americans held hostage by Columbian rebels.
BILL RICHARDSON, GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I came to talk with President Chavez. We will meet tomorrow in Miraflores to talk about the situation of the hostages and how we can push for the humanitarian interchange. I think that President Chavez can help and have an important role in this topic. I’m not sent by the United States or the OAS. In the past I participated in other interchanges of hostages in other countries, but I’m here to emphasize the importance of the hostages, especially the three Americans, but I’m conscious that there are Colombians and a French woman. The best is to reduce the stress in this area.
VOICEOVER: Three US defense contractors, Mark Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell, have been held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since their plane went down more than five years ago.
AMERICAN HOSTAGE: Hi, Mariana. I’m sending you this note on October 22, 2007.
VOICEOVER: FARC has proposed to exchange high-value hostages for imprisoned members of the group, but the guerrillas in Colombia’s US-allied government have been deadlocked over the terms. Sandy Kozel, the Associated Press.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.