Monday, March 17, 2008

Indigenous Issues: Belgian tourists released by Guatemalan farmers

According to reports from Guatemala, four Belgian tourists taken captive on Friday have been released.

Officials say the four tourists were freed late Saturday following negotiations between the government and the kidnappers. Reports say the Belgians were exchanged for three members of an indigenous farmers' group who had been detained by local authorities.

The two Belgian couples were seized along with two Guatemalan guides as they travelled up a river near the Caribbean coast by farmers angry over the arrest of a local community leader, Ramiro Choc. The farmers demanded to speak with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.

The kidnappers are from the same group of indigenous farmers who briefly held 29 policemen hostage last month, and made similar demands.

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