American Abducted in Colombia Doing Well
Tuesday, July 10, 2007; 3:11 AM
BOGOTA, Colombia -- The mother of a kidnapped U.S. contractor in Colombia said her son has made friends with his captors, learned to speak Spanish and is generally holding up well after more than four years as a hostage.
Yet Jo Rosano was also told that the camp where her son Marc Gonsalves is being held is rigged with explosives to prevent any attempted military rescue.
Rosano met Friday with a Colombian policeman who shared some time in the same rebel camp with Gonsalves.
Before his escape in April, Jhon Pinchao endured nearly nine years as a hostage of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, the nation's largest rebel group.
"He enlightened me on their routine," said Rosano in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, describing her meeting with Pinchao in Florida. "My son is making the best of his situation, and that helped me to hear, because I feared he may be moping around."
Rosano was encouraged by news that Gonsalves has established a rapport with hostages and guards.
"He tells stories to the other hostages and the guerrillas about his childhood which makes them all laugh," she said. "He's become friends with one of the guards, and apparently Marc plays pranks on him all the time."
Pinchao, whom President Alvaro Uribe has designated "ambassador for the kidnapped," said he shared the same camp as Gonsalves for a "few months," but Rosano was not sure when.
Gonsalves and two fellow U.S. contractors for Northrop Grumman Corp. were on a surveillance mission over Caqueta, a rebel stronghold and cocaine-producing region in Colombia's southern jungle, when their plane crashed on Feb. 13, 2003.
Gonsalves, Tom Howes and Keith Stansell were captured almost immediately. Two other men on the mission, an American and a Colombian, were killed by the rebels. The three surviving hostages have been heard from only once.
The good news for Rosano was tempered by fear: Pinchao told her the rebels had prepared a deadly trap for the hostages and any security forces attempting a military rescue.
"Jhon said that bombs have been placed around the camp and were ready to be set off so in case of a search and rescue the bombs would kill the hostages," Rosano said.