- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

BOGOTA (AP) - A caravan of some 500 motorcycles completed a three-week ride Sunday dedicated to hostages held by Colombian rebels, but fell short of securing the release of captives, organizers said.

Caravan leader Herbin Hoyos said riders were encouraged by the support they received along the nearly 3,000 mile (5,000 kilometer) route.

But he lamented not persuading members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to release at least one captive before the ride’s conclusion in the Colombian capital.

“I promised publicly to give my motorcycle to any guerrilla who came forward to turn over a captive,” said Hoyos, a journalist by profession.

The leftist FARC has been fighting Colombia’s government for more than four decades and funds itself largely through the cocaine trade and kidnapping for ransom.

Estimates vary widely on the number of captives being held for ransom.

In addition, at least 22 Colombian soldiers and police continue to be held by the FARC as political bargaining chips.

Bikers flooded Bogota’s streets Sunday in black shirts bearing the words, “Free the kidnapped.”

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