DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     June 11-13, 1999     vol. 10, no. 113

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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APPARENT SUCCESS IN LIBERATION OF COLOMBIAN HOSTAGES

Release Planned for Weekend, in Bishop's Presence

          BOGOTA, JUN 10 (ZENIT).- The National Liberation Army has stated that it will release 77 hostages this weekend. If the guerrillas keep their word, they will free 25 passengers of Avianca Airlines, captured two months ago, and 52 faithful of La Maria de Cali Church, kidnapped on May 30.

          The Pastrana government hopes that the guerrillas will also release nine members of the Barranquilla Fishing Club, captured last Sunday while fishing in two boats on the Magdalena river.

          The agreements for release were made thanks to the efforts of the Church in Colombia and the Holy See itself. According to the Colombian newspaper 'El Espectador,' Nicolas Rodriguez "Gabino," the leader of the NLA, traveled to Rome to meet a Vatican personality whose identity has not been disclosed. Also present at the meeting was Bernard Schmidbauer, minister of Security of the previous German administration (presently a Social Christian representative in his country's Parliament). The Holy See has neither confirmed nor denied this information.

          President Andres Pastrana has confirmed that his government has had contacts with the NLA's central commander, known as Coce, to obtain the release of the hostages, and he announced the establishment of a commission that will discuss the conditions of the release. One of these is the return of communications equipment belonging to the insurgents' spokesmen, who are incarcerated in the Itaguí jail.

          On June 2, John Paul II described the interruption of the guerrillas during "the celebration of Mass" as "sacrilegious." They kidnapped 140 faithful, including the priest. The Pope has also requested the release of the Avianca hostages, kidnapped on April 12 during a Bucaramanga to Bogota flight.

          The guerrillas have chosen Bishop Victor Lopez of Bucaramanga, as "good will emissary" to help in the release of the hostages, planned for this weekend in the city of San Antonio, Colombia.

          In addition to Bishop Lopez, delegates from the governments of Germany, Spain and Venezuela, as well as Juan Uribe, President Pastrana's political adviser, will witness the release. ZE99061005


Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 11-13, 1999       volume 10, no. 113
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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