In the period between 1970 and 2010, Colombian society experienced something rather drastic. Nearly everyone in the country knew someone who had been kidnapped or had a member of their own family kidnapped. Most of these people were kidnapped for ransom which was often paid. Some people were held for years while others were held captive for only a few days. Despite being a rather big problem for more than three decades, it is only now that a study has been conducted to examine the true impact and extent of kidnappings on the Colombian society.
Dubbed the ‘The Kidnapped Truth’, the research claims that in the period between 1970 and 2010, as many as 39,058 had been kidnapped in Columbia. Of course, this figure is just an approximation and the real number could be much higher than this. The study itself claims that there is no way to ascertain exactly just how many have been kidnapped through this duration though it does hope to systematically study what has been one of the worst social problems the Columbian population has faced in their entire history. Till date, around 10,466 kidnap victims remain missing while 2,287 people are known to have died while being held captive.
According to the study, there have been some rather cases where around 301 people were kidnapped more than once and there is even a case of a single person being kidnapped a staggering five times. The five year-long study was commissioned by Center for Historical Memory in Columbia and looks to examine how the decades long internal conflicts have led to the rise of kidnappings in the country.
According to the report, the kidnapping trend first began in the mid-1960s when rebel groups like ELN National Liberation Army and FARC (Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia) began kidnapping people to fund their operations. These groups have been known to be involved in illegal mining, drug trafficking and extortion as well as armed strife through the country.
FARC has been known to have been responsible for around 37% of all kidnapping in last four decades, ELN was found responsible for 30%, criminal networks that did not have a political leaning or agenda were responsible for 20 % kidnappings while right-wing paramilitary groups were found responsible for 4 percent of all kidnapping cases. What remains heartbreaking is that a conviction has been achieved in only 8 percent of the reported kidnapping cases.