Key dates in the kidnappings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Feb. 23, 2002: Politician Ingrid Betancourt is kidnapped as she campaigns for president in a rebel stronghold in southern Colombia. Her campaign chief, Clara Rojas, is abducted with her.

Feb. 13, 2003: An aerial counter-drug surveillance flight goes down. Americans Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Janis are aboard. Rescue teams find Janis shot to death.

Feb. 24, 2003: The FARC claims responsibility for bringing down the plane and says it has the Americans.

July 2-22, 2003: A release of Betancourt, reportedly ailing, is planned but never happens.

Aug. 28, 2003: Video footage shows Americans alive.

Aug. 30, 2003: Video footage shows Betancourt, the first images of her in more than a year.

Aug. 16, 2007: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez offers to mediate peace talks between the guerrillas and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Nov. 21, 2007: Colombia's government cancels Chavez's mediation role after Chavez spoke directly with the head of Colombia's army, disobeying an order from Uribe.

Jan. 9-10: Colombian rebels provide Venezuela a pickup location for Rojas and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, who are freed and flown to Venezuela.

March 1: Colombian security forces raid a FARC camp in Ecuador and kill rebel commander Raul Reyes. FARC later responds that the raid "gravely" harmed efforts to win Betancourt's release.

July 2: Colombia military rescues Betancourt, the three American contractors and 11 other hostages.

ASSOCIATED PRESS