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Mother's grief over son's missing body

By Karl Penhaul, CNN
Emperatriz de Guevara's son police Capt. Julian Guevara  died four years ago while he was being held by FARC guerrillas.
Emperatriz de Guevara's son police Capt. Julian Guevara died four years ago while he was being held by FARC guerrillas.
  • Remains of Capt. Julian Guevara lie somewhere in Colombian jungle
  • Policeman, who was kidnapped in 1998 by FARC guerrillas, died four years ago
  • Mother wants Guevara's remains returned to her so she can give her son a Christian burial
  • Colombia
  • FARC

Bogota, Colombia (CNN) -- Somewhere deep in the Colombian jungle a policeman's bones grow old.

While hundreds of miles away in the country's capital, Bogota a mother thumbs through memories.

Another Christmas comes around but neither the government nor the communist guerrillas who took him hostage can grant her one wish -- to bring home the remains of her son, Capt. Julian Guevara.

"I don't know what's taking them so long," Guevara's mother, Emperatriz de Guevara told CNN. "What can be left of my Julian by now? His flesh must have decomposed and his bones could fit in a bag or a box."

Her nightmare began 11 years ago on November 1 1998 when hundreds of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas overran Mitu -- a jungle outpost on Colombia's border with Brazil.

Guevara and his men battled all day long until their ammunition ran out. But an hour before sunset Guevara surrendered and the guerrillas took him and 60 other policemen prisoner.

"Christmas was always a big family reunion but since that happened we didn't really celebrate," de Guevara said. "How can you eat without knowing whether he has something to eat? The families of all the hostages live every day like that."

At one point FARC guerrillas were holding hundreds of police officers and soldiers prisoner and called on the government to swap them for jailed guerrilla fighters.

There were waves of releases as well as last year's military rescue of politician Ingrid Betancourt and fourteen other hostages.

The rebels say they are still holding 23 people, but not Guevara who was killed by a tropical infection four years ago.

"My son is part of my life. His flesh is my flesh. I know Julian's soul is with god, but a physical part of me has just been dumped in the jungle," de Guevara said.

"That hurts so much and so I want to be able to give him a Christian burial. Then I will happily die and be reunited with him."

The rebels hinted they may finally hand over Guevara's remains this Christmas. But then that was postponed.

Now any deal may be off after suspected FARC commandos blasted their way into the residence of Luis Francisco Cuellar Carvajal, governor of the department of Caqueta in southern Colombia Monday night and kidnapped him. His body was discovered Tuesday.

President Alvaro Uribe is ordering his troops to get tough.

"We have to use all of our force. We cannot submit to the whims of the terrorists who bathe this country in blood," Uribe said.

But Emperatriz de Guevara seems not to blame either side.

"Not the guerillas because unfortunately they see this as a war. And not the government because they didn't kidnap anyone," she said.

She professes no interest in politics or war. She just wants to bury the bones of her son.