Former Colombian hostages held a press conference in Bogota just one day after their release from more than a decade in captivity in the Colombian jungle as prisoners of the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The ten men -- four soldiers and six police officers -- were released by FARC on Monday in an attempt by the leftist militant group to prompt peace negotiations with the Colombian government. The men are the last of FARC's non-civilian hostages to be released, yet an unknown number of civilian hostages remain in the custody of the rebel group.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and Colombians for Peace brokered the deal -- the Bogota government was not a party to the negotiations.
FARC has been fighting the government since the 1960s, yet military offensives and a crackdown on drug trafficking led by current President Juan Manuel Santos over the past decade have weakened the once formidable group. The government has been largely successful in combating the rebel organization -- former FARC leader Alfonso Cano was killed in an military attack last November.
The former hostages told of foiled escape attempts, years spent confined by chains, and lost friends.
We were chained up for eight long years. What's more we were chained in pairs, sometimes we were chained by the feet, and sometimes by the hands the BBC quoted Sgt. Luis Arturo Arcia, who spent 14 years in captivity, as saying.
Jose Libarado Forero and Jorge Trujilio, both police officers, recounted being recaptured by rebels after a month spent lost in the jungle in late 2009.
I was expecting a bullet. I put my head down so they could kill me. Thank God that didn't happen.
The men also remembered Luis Fernando Bonilla, a member of their group who never made it home.
In December 2001, they separated him from the group we were in and we never heard from him again, one man said.
Some of the men acquired pets during their time in captivity, and scenes of the former hostages stepping off the helicopter that carried them from an undisclosed location in the jungle included parrots and a peccary, a pig-like animal.
In this situation, there are many things that help someone relax and pass the time, without counting the days and counting the years, Forero told reporters on Tuesday.
Reportedly, at its peak in the early 2000s, FARC controlled as much as 40 percent of Colombian territory.
FARC announced in February it will no longer take hostages for ransom.
However, Santos maintains that Monday's release will not secure peace talks.
It is a step in the right direction, a very important step ... I hope that more will be done. This promise is not sufficient. They have to free the kidnapped civilians that are still in their power, he said after the release.