first_imgRelated posts:Colombia government, rebels to set up truth commission Colombia, FARC reach agreement on de-escalating conflict An end to Colombia’s war seems close – except in rebel territory Colombia announces cease-fire deal to end 52-year conflict with FARC A Colombian National Police sergeant who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and held captive for 13 years is now a police attaché working in the Colombian Embassy in Costa Rica.During Colombia’s presidential elections on Sunday, César Augusto Lasso, 47, described being held captive for more than a decade in the Colombian jungle. Lasso was one of several victims kidnapped by the FARC in a famous incident known as the “Toma de Mitú,” in the departmental capital of Vaupés, in southeastern Colombia, in the Amazon basin.On Nov. 1, 1998 at 4:45 a.m., approximately 1,500 FARC guerrilla fighters attacked a police station in Mitú, outnumbering the small town’s squad of 120 police officers.“After several hours of combat, our people were falling. They [the FARC] killed 18 of my compañeros and they kidnapped 61 of us,” Lasso, who was then 34, said in an interview outside the Colombian Embassy in San José.“From then on, it was one continuous hike through the jungles of Colombia waiting to be rescued, or for a chance to escape, or to be traded in a prisoner exchange, or a unilateral release, as the guerrillas did in the end,” Lasso said. Former Colombian Police Sargeant José Libardo Forero, right, hugs his wife next to Sargeant César Augusto Lasso on April 4, 2012. Guillermo Legaría/AFPLasso and the other hostages spent the entire 13 years chained at the neck, in pairs. They endured horrid conditions, including unbearable heat, high humidity, tropical disease, and – most of all – isolation.“We didn’t have direct communication with our family members. We could only hear messages from them, mostly my mother and my children, when our captors allowed us to listen to the radio,” he said.“In all that time, [the FARC] never showed anyone from the outside proof that we were still alive. But thanks to God’s will and the strength he gave us, we were able to make it out alive, although other compañeros didn’t make it,” Lasso said. “Some died, others are still missing.”The FARC released Lasso on April 2, 2012. During those 13 years, Lasso said what he missed most was the chance to see his children grow up, along with “the many things that life gives you, the ability to educate yourself, perfect yourself.“Pero bueno,” he said, “life goes on.”Lasso never got another chance to see his father, who died 10 years after the kidnapping. Former FARC hostage César Augusto Lass, right, arrives in Villavicencio, Colombia, on April 2, 2012, after being freed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). AFP/ICRC/Boris HegerThe FARC is currently engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba, one of the central issues in the South American country’s current electoral process.Colombian opposition candidate Óscar Zuluaga led President Juan Manuel Santos in Sunday’s elections, but neither candidate captured enough votes to avoid a runoff. Santos favors continuing his administration’s 18-month negotiations with the Marxist rebels, but Zuluaga, who has the support of former conservative president Álvaro Uribe, has vowed to take a harder line and end the peace talks.Recommended: Colombian leader, rival head to runoff vote After 13 years captive in a Colombian jungle, César Augusto Lasso can still smile. Guillermo Legaria/AFP Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgGeneva, Switzerland – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineQatar Airways today announced a strategic alliance with fractional jet program provider Flexjet to offer customers access to over 5,000 destinations beyond the Doha-based airline’s four North American gateways.Flexjet is aircraft manufacturer Bombardier’s fractional ownership business, providing access to more than 80 modern executive aircraft. Aircraft available as part of the Flexjet Connect program, are operated by U.S. air carrier Jet Solutions.The new agreement, effective today, May 14, enables customers traveling on Qatar Airways’ scheduled flights to and from New York, Washington, Houston and Montreal, to book a private premium jet service in a single transaction to cover over 5,000 airports across the region.The exclusive partnership, managed by the airline’s private jet division Qatar Executive as part of Qatar Airways’ premium product portfolio, will ensure passengers have seamless and hassle-free onward connections in the USA, Canada, as well as parts of Mexico and the tropical islands of the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos**.No matter if the final destination is in California, Florida or British Columbia, Qatar Airways’ customers from across its global network traveling to or from North America via its Doha hub can conveniently connect in the privacy and exclusivity of a private jet to their final destination with Bombardier* Challenger* aircraft operated by Jet Solutions.All Qatar Airways’ customers will receive the same industry-leading customer service provided to Flexjet’s fractional jet owners.Speaking at a press conference at EBACE, Europe’s premier business aviation show, in Geneva today, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that the new service was yet another enhanced product offering by Qatar’s national carrier.“We are extremely pleased to be launching this new program and are confident that it is an attractive product offering for individuals and large multi-national companies alike,” said Al Baker.“Today’s customers want flexibility, extensive reach, confidentiality and convenience all from a single source.“This new alliance gives customers from Qatar and the rest of the airline’s international network the ability to book their travel on Qatar Airways’ commercial service and on-demand private jets to their onward destination within North America with a single phone call. Vice versa we look forward to providing the traveling public from North America a premium door-to-door service when heading to the Middle East and beyond.”Flexjet President Fred Reid said: “With a growing focus on the international business market, we have seen an increase in demand for travel to the Middle East and the surrounding regions. Today’s alliance with Qatar Airways – an award-winning airline that shares Flexjet’s passion for high levels of customer service – is an ideal way for us to provide a global aviation solution to our owners. It’s a win-win situation for all.”While Qatar Airways’ customers can obtain guaranteed access to a wide range of top-of-the-range Bombardier business jet aircraft, operated by U.S. air carrier Jet Solutions, and access to over 5,000 airports in North America with as little as 24-hours advance notice, Flexjet fractional owners gain premium travel benefits beyond their North American service area, including access to Qatar Executive’s ultra-modern fleet of Bombardier private jets.At Qatar Executive, a dedicated concierge-style customer service team is available for all Flexjet Connect enquiries on 24 hours / 7 days basis to fully address all passengers’ needs and requirements, from flight arrangements to ground transportation and special requests.The Concierge team will arrange the required Qatar Airways’ tickets, as well as the contract, invoice and itinerary of the business aircraft sector, whether it is on aircraft available through the Flexjet Connect programme in North America or Qatar Executive out of the Middle East. Anyone can book this service starting today, May 14. The business jets on offer provide between 8 and 13 passenger seats, which are all available to the individual customer booking the flight.Being part of a well-established award-winning full service global network airline Qatar Airways, Qatar Executive customers can be rest assured to receive the highest standards of service in terms of quality, exclusivity, comfort and confidentiality provided by highly trained and experienced crew.For further information and bookings, the Qatar Executive Concierge service team is available 24/7 on +974 4445 3800 or Further details are available at or on Airways operates a modern fleet of 108 aircraft from its Doha hub to 114 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South read more