Colombia: July 22, 2004


A government study of kidnapping activity has concluded that, over the past eight years, 21,078 people were kidnapped and an average ransom of  $3,000 was paid to free them. Some 2,000 are still held, and over a thousand were killed or freed for other reasons. Most (64 percent) of the victims were taken by the leftist FARC or  ELN rebels. Another 35 percent were done by common criminals, and about one percent by the anti-leftist AUC. This explains the widespread anger against the leftist rebels. Anyone with assets was considered a potential victim. This often included a lot of people who, while not destitute, were basically poor. Most Colombians, who long supported the social agenda of FARC and ELN, have decided that these leftist groups have become corrupt and turned into criminals. 

During the eight year period, the government spent $110 million trying to stop the kidnappers. In the last two years, president Uribe has basically declared war against the rebel groups. This has been a popular program, as most Colombians see the rebels more as criminals than social reformers. 


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