Pope Benedict XVI
“I extend a warm greeting to the Spanish-speaking visitors here today, in particular to the faithful from Colombia.”
Juan Gomez Martinez
Colombian Ambassador to the Holy See
“We asked the Holy Father to greet the motorists that traveled through Spain, France and now Italy to ask the Lord for the liberation of all the hostages around the world.”
One hundred forty motorists made up the caravan. The idea came from a Colombian that’s become the voice of hostages and their families.
“A few years back I was driving through the streets of Colombia with a group of handicapped men in wheelchairs that were also asking for the liberty of those captured. When I saw them in their wheelchairs putting that superhuman effort forward, crossing the mountains of Colombia, asking for the liberty of the hostages I said, ‘How is it possible that we haven’t done anything with these great motorcycles?’”
In Colombia there are more than 3,000 civilians and 23 military personel being held hostage by the FARC for some 11 years. Twenty three other countries including Mexico, Iraq and Chechnya also have their share of hostages.
Jenny Stefany Mendieta Paredes
Daughter of a general held hostage
“There are people dying that are tied to trees that no one thinks about. No one thinks about the torture of being held captive that still exists. We have to get these people to freedom because they are dying on us.”
Raimundo Malagon Castellanos
Captain of the Colombian Military
“I was held hostage in a region far from my hometown, in a small village in the south of Colombia for ten long years, suffering the torture of captivity. I had precarious difficulties: the circumstances in which the captors keep you, the images that the world sees with barbed wire, the chains, all these things are real. So, you suffered from cruel human treatment, mental torture as well as physical.”
Those who took part in the caravan are asking the international community to become more sensitive to the issue so as to liberate their family members and so no more people are taken hostage. They are living through many years of suffering, waiting for their sons, daughters, parents or brothers to return home. But they still have hope.
“As long as they’re alive, there is hope that we can free them. The only thing we ask the captors is to keep them alive. We will move Heaven and earth to get them home again.”
The caravan is goin back to Colombia, but they will keep working towards freedom. Their next trip will be to Russia to meet with the patriarch of the Orthodox Church. Then Central America and the United States to meet with President Barack Obama.