Freed Colombian hostages describe ordeals in rebel captivity

CARACAS, Venezuela - Clara Rojas, one of two hostages freed after years held captive by Colombian rebels, gave birth to her son nearly four years ago by kitchen-knife Caesarean and has not seen him since he was taken from the jungle at 8 months old.

'Very soon I will meet him, and little by little we'll start sharing what for us is a rebirth,' Rojas told reporters late Friday in Caracas, where she and fellow captive Consuelo Gonzalez met their families and thanked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for engineering their release.

Long treks through the forest, prisoners held in chains and terrifying aerial raids also marked some six years in captivity. Wearing a photo of her son dangling from her neck, Rojas said it wasn't until two weeks ago that she learned what had happened to 3-year-old Emmanuel, hearing on the radio that he was in a foster home in Bogota.

The handover of Rojas and Gonzalez was the most important hostage release in the Colombian conflict since 2001, when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, freed some 300 soldiers and police officers.

Rojas - an aide to former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who remains in captivity - spoke in general terms about the rebel who fathered her son, reportedly a rank-and-file guerrilla named Rigo.

'I never saw the boy's father again,' she said in one Colombian radio interview.

'I don't have any information about the boy's father. What's more, I don't have any idea if he even knows he's the boy's father,' Rojas said at a news conference, holding the hand of her elderly mother. 'The information I have is that he could even have died. I don't have any confirmation.'

After she learned she was pregnant, Rojas shared the news with her fellow captives - 'this happiness but also of course the anxiety.'

She was later separated from the rest and moved to a tent where she waited out the final months alone, sleeping on a cot and trying to 'have the peace to face the situation of the birth.'

She asked for a doctor, but none came. When the contractions came in April 2004, it was the start of a full day of difficult labor, and Rojas said the rebels, including a male nurse who was in charge, explained she would need a Caesarean section because there were risks to the baby and her own life.

'And I said, well, I'll put it in the hands of God,' Rojas said. When she awoke from the anesthesia, one rebel told her: 'Clara, don't move. ... It's a boy.'