Hostages' Memoirs Stir Debate

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BOGOTA, Colombia -- In a new book titled "Out of Captivity," three Americans describe being chained at the neck by rebel guards during five years of imprisonment in Colombia's jungles, and reveal tensions among themselves and their fellow hostages.

Another former hostage, Fernando Araújo, recounts in his book the anguish of finding his wife with another man after his escape from the guerrillas' clutches.

Luis Eladio Pérez writes that during the years he was held by the rebels, he came to realize what a self-absorbed politician he had been. Lucy Artunduaga, whose husband was a hostage, writes about learning that he had fallen in love with another captive during his six years in the jungle. And Colombia is breathlessly awaiting what Ingrid Betancourt, a French Colombian politician and the most famous of all the former captives, will say in a book expected later this year.

These days, bookstores in Colombia are full of gripping tales by former hostages detailing how they survived forced marches, military bombing runs, jungle-borne parasites and the abuse of sadistic guards. A few of the authors, though, have gone deeper, exploring their frailties under harrowing conditions or recounting the inevitable human drama that unfolded in the jungle, from rivalries in makeshift prisons to the romances that blossomed between some hostages.

The books have generated a swirl of controversy in a country where people tend to be wary of airing intimacies in public. Some here -- including newspaper columnists, radio talk-show hosts and the more discreet of the former hostages -- have strongly rebuked the trend.

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