Family members of the three Ecuadorean journalists, who were kidnapped on March 26 in the town of Mataje on Ecuador's northern border with Colombia, arrived in Lima Thursday hoping to pressure Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos into meeting with them.
The relatives of Javier Ortega, Paul Rivas, and Efrain Segarra will attend the VIII Summit of the Americas with the intention of asking for Santos' help in securing the release of the trio. They also want to participate in a meeting between Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno and Santos, who are scheduled to meet and discuss the kidnapping.
According to Ecuadorean news outlet El Comercio, Cristian Segarra, son of the driver Efrain Segarra, they will remain in Lima until April 13 and have planned to talk to Colombian media to request an ethical treatment of information related to the kidnapping. They will also ask Santos for clarity on the report issued by the Colombian military in the last few days.
Since the kidnapping, Colombia’s Armed Forces have denied that the journalists are in Colombian territory, something Ecuadorean officials have contradicted this claim. The relatives are expected to request clarification on Colombia's statements given the circulation of a video on social media in which kidnapping victims said they wanted to “return” to Ecuador.
According to Segarra, this is a political issue. Colombia “doesn’t want to recognize the presence of an international criminal gang in their territory. We know there is an electoral process coming up.”
Another inconsistency has been the nationality of alias “El Gaucho,” the head of the FARC dissident group that is allegedly holding the three Ecuadoreans; Colombia claims he is Ecuadorean while Ecuador denies this.
Earlier this month, during a meeting with president Lenin Moreno “we asked the president is there was a possibility to speak with Santos directly,” Segarra said to which he says Moreno responded that he had requested a meeting with Santos but that “it was not up to him.”
Whether they get to speak with Santos or not, the trip to the VIII Summit of the Americas will serve to “internationalize” their case.
“We want to have a presence in the media during the summit. The goal is above all to generate pressure on the Colombian state, or on Colombian authorities, who are participating in the summit, so they have more activity and presence in the negotiation,” Segarra told EFE.
Ecuadoreans continue to show solidarity with the three missing journalists and their families. On Wednesday night resident of the southern city of Cuenca organized a massive march and vigil to demand their immediate release.