Some had been hostages for more than 10 years, and many suffered from a grim, flesh-eating disease caused by insect bites.
But the threats persisted, and fearing for his safety, his employer urgently transferred Ortiz to its New York office.
A high-profile move to rival ad agency DDB in Miami followed, but Ortiz could never forget his enmity toward the FARC.
He became the go-to guy for the Colombian army’s more bizarre requests in their battle against the guerillas.
On the telephone, Colonel Espejo explained that he urgently needed to get a message to the captured Colombian soldiers: help was coming.
They had to create a message that could be understood by the hostages, but remain invisible to their captors.
"The code message said, ‘you’re next’ because the hostages thought if they ran away, they would die in the jungle. »