BOGOTA, Colombia - Clara Gonzalez de Rojas said yesterday that she was ready to travel to meet her daughter and grandson whenever leftist rebels freed them after years in captivity in the Colombian jungles.
At a Christmas Eve news conference, Gonzalez de Rojas said the Colombian government has provided a plane on standby, ready to fly the family "wherever we have to go" for the release of her daughter, Clara Rojas; Rojas' young son, Emmanuel; and a third hostage, former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez.
Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who has worked closely with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, toward an agreement to release the hostages in neighboring Venezuela, suggested that their freedom could be delayed.
Cordoba said he had just arrived in Medellin, Colombia, and knew nothing about the release. "If I did know they were going to be freed, I would be in Caracas right now," he said, referring to Venezuela's capital.
With Venezuelan officials tightlipped about the time line for the release, little information has emerged about when the handover could happen.
The Colombian government denied reports that military operations were complicating the guerrillas' efforts to free the hostages.
"There are no military movements aimed at disrupting this liberation," said Luis Carlos Restrepo, the government's top peace negotiator.
Relatives of the three hostages were hoping to spend their first Christmas in years with their loved ones after the rebels announced plans to release Rojas - an aide to former Colombian presidential candidate and fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt - and her son and Gonzalez, who was kidnapped in September 2001.
The FARC said they would hand over the hostages to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or whoever he designates - leading to speculation the hostages would be freed in Venezuela.