HOSTAGE TALKS TO BECHICMAG

CLARA ROJAS ON BEING KIDNAPPED BY COLOMBIAN GUERRILLAMercedes Sanchez

BeChicMag.com loves passionate and intelligent women. When we heard that Clara Rojas was available to chat about her upcoming book, Cautiva, we jumped at the chance to speak with her. She survived six years of captivity as a hostage of the FARC- a guerrilla group in Colombia. We're sure you will love her story and be inspired by her courage. So, read on and be motivated to bring about that change you've been aching for.

Contributing writer Carolina Baker has the story...

Clara Rojas was kidnapped along with Ingrid Betancourt by the FARC guerrilla group in Colombia on February 23, 2002, while Ingrid Betancourt was campaigning for the Colombian presidency. In 2006, Rojas gave birth to a boy named Emmanuel while in captivity. The father was said to be a FARC guerrilla. He was taken away from her when he was only eight months old. On January 10, 2008, Rojas was freed after six years in captivity. Cautiva is her testimony on her hostage experience. She currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with her son.

BeChicMag: How did writing the book help you cope with your hostage experience, if at all?

Clara Rojas: It helped me face the situation. I was able to write about my traumatic experience. It was helpful to divide my experience into chapters. At the same time, I was able to distance myself from that experience. The book helped me realize that while being kidnapped was painful, it was in the past. And that's where it belongs.

Is lost time the worst thing that this experience has brought upon you?

Sadly, it is. Nobody is going to give me back that time that I lost.

How is your life different now than before you were kidnapped?

I have a son now. Also, I've matured. I've grown as a human being. I appreciate life more. I'm more relaxed. Before I was kidnapped, I used to live my life too quickly. I now appreciate the simple things.

What do you hope your book will give to Colombian readers, and what do you hope your book will give international readers?

Mercedes Sanchez I want my book to give all readers a conscious. I would like everyone to understand what it's like to be kidnapped. I want people to feel closer to the kidnapping struggles that Colombians face.

Is there anything that Colombians can do to help provide some relief to hostages held by the guerrillas?

From my experience, reaching out to the Colombian radio stations helps a lot. As a hostage, I used to look forward to the messages that my family sent me through the radio stations. Writing letters to the government is also an important way to be active. Praying a lot also helps. I just got back from Italy, where I was visiting Pope Benedict XVI. I asked him to pray for the release of the 750 + hostages that are still in the depths of the Colombian jungle. Being out of captivity, I've made it a point to support the family members that still have loved ones in the jungle. I've attended rallies against the FARC. I've also voiced my opinions to the Colombian government as to how we should go about liberating the remaining hostages. I attend forums and am available to people that need me.

Do you experience guilt because you were freed and many others still remain in the jungle?

I don't have guilt. I have made it my mission to assist in anyway that I can in releasing the remaining hostages. The FARC should be the ones full of guilt.

How did you enjoy the book-writing process?

I liked it. I've always enjoyed writing. With this book, I had the opportunity to take my writing to the next level, and it felt great. Obviously, I relived some of my most difficult moments, but it was therapeutic to put it all on paper. I'm thinking about writing a second book.

If there's any advice that you could give BeChic readers, what would it be?

Be more conscious of your life and of your choices. When you're in a rut, don't give up. You can and will succeed in whatever you put your mind to.

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Clara's book is currently available in Spanish and will soon be available in English. She will be touring the states upon publication of the English version of her book. To purchase the Spanish version, click here.   - Carolina Baker