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HELD HOSTAGE IN COLOMBIA Print
 Hostage_small.jpg
Documentary: HELD HOSTAGE IN COLOMBIA

A film by Jorge Enrique Botero, Victoria Bruce & Karin Hayes

Colombia/USA 2003 | 48 minutes

From deep within the Colombian jungle, the exclusive story of three
American contractors held hostage since February 2003, and the U.S.
Government's refusal to find a diplomatic way to free them.

On February 12, 2003 a Pentagon-owned Cessna went down in the jungle
of southern Colombia. Found near the crash site were the bullet-
ridden bodies of a Colombian crewmember and the American pilot. Three
other Americans who were aboard the plane were nowhere to be found.

Seen for the first time since their abduction, the three American
hostages, flanked by guerrilla soldiers with semi-automatic weapons
and looking physically strong after nearly six months in captivity,
are seen in a new documentary titled, Held Hostage in Colombia. The
film is produced and directed by American filmmakers Karin Hayes and
Victoria Bruce, along with Colombian journalist Jorge Enrique Botero,
who obtained exclusive footage of the three men in a jungle prison
camp on July 25, 2003.
Hostage_big.jpg

In interviews with Botero, the three captives, dressed in the
identical camouflage uniforms of their captors, explain that they
were working in Colombia under a U.S. government contract awarded to
California Microwave Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, when
the engine of the Cessna 208 they were flying failed.

After surviving the crash, systems analysts Keith Stansell and Marc
Gonsalves, Colombian guide Luis Alcides Cruz, and pilots Thomas Janis
and Thomas Howes were immediately surrounded by forces from the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's largest
insurgent group. Cruz and Janis were shot and killed, and the three
others taken hostage.

FARC commanders explain on camera that the three Americans have been
classified as prisoners of war, and that they are on a list with
Colombian political prisoners held by the FARC. The three hostages
explain what daily life for them has been like, the incredible pain
of separation from their families and the frustration at having no
news from the outside world.

And in a dramatic scene, the hostages read news magazines and reports
and discover that soon after their crash, their contract was awarded
to another company that they have never heard of, called CIAO. This
information adds to the FARC's suspicion and accusation that the men
are CIA agents.

In an emotional moment, the men learn that three of their co-workers
died in a plane crash while looking for them. And in a powerful plea,
hostage Keith Stansell begs the American government not to attempt a
military rescue. "You may come here to get us, but when you get here,
we're going to be dead," Stansell says, explaining that they are
guarded 24 hours a day by armed guerrillas. "I pray for a diplomatic
solution", Stansell says staring directly into the camera, referring
to the guerilla demand for a prisoner exchange.

Before his trip to the jungle, Botero asked American filmmakers Karin
Hayes and Victoria Bruce to record a message from Jo Rosano of
Connecticut to her son Marc Gonsalves. After showing Gonsalves the
heartbreaking message from his mother, Botero had the three captives
send messages to their families. Hayes and Bruce then took the
messages to family members in the United States who hadn't received
any news or proof of life since the day of the crash, and who had
been pressured by the U.S. Department of State not to speak to the
media about the case.

The families discuss their incredible frustration after hearing no
news for six months, and their anger at the US government for making
no attempts to encourage the Colombian government to find a
diplomatic solution to the crisis. With expert testimony from
academics and politicians, HELD HOSTAGE IN AMERICA also calls into
question the long-running American drug policy in Colombia.

Director Jorge Enrique Botero has worked as a journalist covering
Colombia, with a particular emphasis on its civil war, for over 25
years. He recently received an award from the Fundación Nuevo
Periodismo Iberomericano (Foundation for New Latin American
Journalism) headed by Gabriel García Márquez, for Como Voy A
Olvidarte? (How am I going to forget you?), a documentary film that
follows the lives of Colombian military officers and soldiers who had
been held by the FARC for more than 4 years. As one of the few
journalists ever to enter FARC prison camps, his work has been a
catalyst to bring about dialogues that resulted in the freeing of
prisoners. He is based in Bogotá, Colombia.

Producer Victoria Bruce is a journalist/filmmaker and author of No
Apparent Danger; The true story of a volcanic disaster at Galeras and
Nevado del Ruiz (HarperCollins 2001), and the producer/director with
Karin Hayes of the HBO/Cinemax film, The Kidnapping of Ingrid
Betancourt, the story of a Colombian presidential candidate kidnapped
by the FARC in February 2002. She is based in Annapolis, Maryland.

Producer Karin Hayes is a filmmaker who produced and directed, with
Victoria Bruce, the HBO/Cinemax documentary film The Kidnapping of
Ingrid Betancourt. She has also worked on programs for TLC, National
Geographic Channel, The Travel Channel, and PBS. She is based in Los
Angeles, CA.
 
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