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Freed Colombian Hostage Gonzalez Back in Bogota


Former Colombian politician and hostage Consuelo Gonzalez has returned to Bogota with what she calls evidence that eight of her former fellow captives are still alive. It is not clear which hostages are involved.

A grateful Gonzalez said Monday she is intensely happy to be home after being held for nearly six years by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Gonzalez and another Colombian politician, Clara Rojas, were freed last week following mediation by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Meanwhile, the United States has rejected Mr. Chavez's call to stop labeling the rebels as terrorists.

State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack said Monday that the FARC has earned its way onto the list of terrorist groups.

The spokesman said he is unaware of any substantial changes in the FARC's behavior that would merit it being dropped from the list.

Mr. Chavez last week described the FARC and a smaller Colombian rebel group known as the ELN as insurgent armies with political goals he said should be respected.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe rejected the suggestion, saying in a statement that the FARC and ELN are terrorist groups because they use force against a democracy and finance drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, Colombian authorities say FARC guerrillas have kidnapped six tourists from a Pacific island, adding to the more than 700 hostages they hold for ransom or political leverage.

Separately, U.S. Representative James McGovern, who is in Colombia, has told the Associated Press he would travel wherever necessary to meet with the FARC if he thought it would help in getting more hostages released.

The FARC has been fighting the Colombian government for decades. At least 40 high-profile hostages are in FARC custody, including three American defense contractors and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Rojas was kidnapped with Betancourt in February 2002.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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