Huge candle to remain lit in Cali until FARC hands over remains of slain government officials


Thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Cali to demand the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) release the bodies of the eleven government officials who were killed by the rebel group on June 18.  In a symbolic act, a huge candle was lit in the Plaza of San Francisco, where it will remain until the remains are returned.

Family members of the eleven victims kidnapped in April of 2002 were present at the ceremony, including relatives of Sigifredo Lopez, the only survivor among the group of lawmakers, who demanded the FARC allow him and the other hostages being held to go free.

In statements to the press, the spokesman for relatives of the victims renewed calls that FARC unconditionally reveal where the bodies are being kept.

The march took place after a Mass celebrated in the Cathedral by Archbishop Juan Francisco Sarasti of Cali.

Speaking to reporters sympathetic to the FARC, the group’s spokesman Raul Reyes said that they rejected an offer by the Organization of American States to mediate, saying the OAS “lacks authority and trust.”

Sergio Caramagna, a spokesman for the OAS in Colombia, told Radio Caracol the organization does not want to be an obstacle in the resolution of the matter “because this is about a humanitarian issue and not about being in the spotlight.”

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