After 33 days in captivity, yesterday the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) freed French journalist Romeo Langlois in a release overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, former Senator Piedad Cordoba and a representative of the French government. Langlois was then flown to the village of San Isidro in the southern department of Caqueta, where he addressed members of the press.
The journalist spoke relatively highly of his captors, saying he had never been mistreated or tied up, and told those gathered that the guerrillas had always treated him “like a guest.” El Tiempo notes that, upon returning to Bogota, the reporter said the only thing he missed during his time in the jungle was the feeling of being cold.
His lack of harsh words for the guerrillas did not go unnoticed by ex-President Alvaro Uribe, never one to miss out on an opportunity to speak his mind. Uribe spoke out against Langlois via his Twitter account yesterday, accusing him of “identifying with terrorism.” “Langlois: One thing is journalistic curiosity and another is identifying with terrorism,” wrote the former Colombian president in one tweet, following it up with “Langlois, what were you doing in Colombia, what relationship did you have with the Farc? Some of us are aware that you know how to lie.”
He did offer some criticism of the armed group for using his release as a propaganda tool, however. According to the AP, the FARC freed Langlois “on their movement's 48th anniversary on a specially built stage, hanging pro-peace banners in this remote southern hamlet and organizing a barbecue.” Langlois also vehemently denied reports that he had been wearing a military uniform at the time of his capture, rumor the rebels initially used to portray him as a “prisoner of war.”
On the whole, Langlois used his time in the spotlight to advocate for peace, reminding the press and members of the humanitarian team of the brutal reality of war in Colombia, which he characterized as “the poor killing the poor." “The conflict has become invisible, we [as journalists] have to think about how to cover it” he said, adding that “the government has sold the idea that this conflict is over, but it isn’t. He also told reporters that the guerrillas are “tired of war,” and had given him a letter to present to French President François Hollande, presumably asking for his help in pressuring the Colombian government to begin peace negotiations.
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