Friday, July 4, 2008

Rescue boosts Uribe's standing

Good for Uribe. He has been intelligent enough not negotiating with the terrorist of Las FARCs. Congratulations President Uribe and Colombian people for this rescue....... was perfect.
vdebate reporter
Rescue boosts Uribe's standing
By Jeremy McDermott BBC News, Medellin

Ms Betancourt described her treatment in the jungle as cruel
The successful rescue of 15 hostages from the clutches of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) has had a massive political impact, nationally and internationally.
It has boosted President Alvaro Uribe and his tough stance against the Marxist rebels and silenced demands that the government make concessions to the guerrillas.
Now the perception is that the military defeat of the Farc is not only possible but inevitable, something that seven years ago would have been unthinkable, when the guerrilla army numbered more than 16,000 fighters and held sway in over a third of the country.
"We are at the end of the end of the Farc," said Admiral Guillermo Barrera, the head of the Colombian Navy.
Praise for president
The latest operation has shown what total disarray the Farc are in and how there appears to be little, if any, reliable contact between the ruling body and the commanders on the ground.
The rescue has vindicated Mr Uribe's uncompromising position with respect to negotiating with the Farc and justified his refusal to make concessions in order to gain the release of hostages.
He had been under pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to secure the release of Ingrid Betancourt - and in a rather more outspoken manner by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who called Mr Uribe, among others things, a "mafioso" and a "warmonger" for his refusal to sit down with the guerrillas.

Two Farc rebels were captured by soldiers during the hostage release
Now both leaders have softened their positions. The French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who accompanied Ms Betancourt's children as they travelled from Paris to meet up with their mother, spoke for President Sarkozy and said that France "admired what had been done".
President Chavez said he was "delighted" and "jubilant" at the successful rescue and was looking forward to welcoming Mr Uribe for a planned visit in the near future admitting that "we said some hard things. Between brothers such things happen".
In January, the Venezuelan leader called for the Farc to be taken off international terrorist lists and insisted the rebels be recognised as a legitimate belligerent force.
He has since backtracked on that, condemning the guerrillas for their policy of kidnapping and telling them that it was time to end the fighting.
Consummate politician
The successful rescue of the hostages will no doubt boost Mr Uribe's already staggering approval ratings, which hover at around 80%.
It will also perhaps secure any re-election plans he might have. President Uribe has already changed the constitution once, which allowed him to stand again as a candidate in the 2006 elections.
He has not ruled out tampering with the constitution once more and indeed one of the political parties that support him, Partido de la U, is currently working on collecting enough signatures to trigger a referendum on the matter.
Ms Betancourt also supported any potential re-election bid by Mr Uribe, when she said that the 2006 re-election of Mr Uribe, with his hard-line policies, was seen by the guerrillas as a great blow. When asked about a third Uribe term she said:

Ms Betancourt will fight for the liberation of the remaining hostages
"Why not? It is interesting. That does not mean to say that I would necessarily vote for him as perhaps I have more affinity with other candidates."
And what now for Ingrid Betancourt?
She looks set to pick up where she left off in February 2002 when she was kidnapped by the Farc at a rebel road block.
Then, she was campaigning for the Colombian presidency and since her release she has acted like the consummate politician she is, talking exhaustively with the media, praising the military, the government and the foreign nations that worked so hard on behalf of the kidnap victims.
She already has her new mission mapped out, fighting for the liberation of the hostages still in Farc hands.
"We need to fight for the freedom of the others, who are still in the jungle, still held by Farc," she said.
"There are a lot of people round the world who want to help us - fighting for the liberty of other Colombians."
The former presidential candidate, now with a profile and status the envy of politicians the world over, is in a very strong position to act as ambassador and activist for the release of the remaining hostages and the search for an end to the country's 44-year civil conflict.
Ingrid Betancourt will now no doubt be a permanent fixture on Colombia's political stage.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

The forgotten American hostages in Colombia

GREAT NEWS NOW THEY ARE FREE!!!!!!!!!!!! We are so happy !!!!!!!!!!!!! They started living again.
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Interesting information, related to the American Hostages hold in Colombia. We will keep you posted in this issue.
vdebate reporter

Their website:

http://www.marc-gonsalves.com/

U.S. Hostages Talk About Life In Captivity
October 2003 - 60 minutes - CBS
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/08/60II/main577184.shtml

Contractors Captured In Colombia Tell Dan Rather Their Story
October 2003 - 60 minutes - CBS
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/06/60II/main576739.shtml

Colombia: Private U.S. Operatives on Risky Missions
by Juan Forero, New York Times
February 14th, 2004
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7830

Statement on American Hostages in Colombia
Chris Dodd - US Senator -February 2006
http://dodd.senate.gov/index.php?q=node/3151

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American Hostage, prisoners of the FARC

I found this article in another blog.
The hostages are:
  • Marc Gonsalvez
  • Keith Stansell
  • Thomas Howes
American Hostage Crisis, Day 1,749: Prisoners of the FARC
On February 13th, 2003 four Americans under contract with the U.S. government and a Colombian citizen onboard a Cessna 208 crashed in the Colombian jungle. They survived. Unfortunately, they were deep within territory controlled and patrolled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, widely referred to as the FARC, the largest armed insurgent force in the Western hemisphere. The revolutionaries soon surrounded the crash site. They executed pilot Tom Janis and Colombian Luis Alcides Cruz on the spot. They took the three other Americans, Marc Gonsalves , Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes, prisoner. And so they remain to this day. Five years held hostage in the Colombian jungle.
I do not support the U.S. government’s “War on Drugs.” I am highly critical of the U.S government’s foreign policy history in Latin America. But I can find only heartbreak and tragedy in the plight of Marc, Keith, & Tom. They were, quite simply, doing their jobs as employees of California Microwave Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. They were flying in support of U.S. and Colombian law enforcement agents combating narco-trafficking in Colombia. To a large extent, these three American citizens have been forgotten by their nation, ignored by their media, and flushed from the consciousness of their fellow citizens. They are perhaps caught in the unfortunate position of being contractors; mercenaries in the eyes of many. Ineligible for the “outrage from innocence” that uninvolved citizens would gain, deprived of the patriotic tendency to protect “our boys” in uniform. But they are still citizens, and regardless of your feelings on the drug war and our support for the government of Colombia’s 40 year counter insurgency war, we can not deprive our fellow citizens of our empathy. They were doing their job, aiding U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials, they crashed, and now five years of their lives have been spent in captivity.
Here is what I propose: In one month, on February 13th, on the fifth anniversary of their imprisonment, I would like to see every blogger and journalist with which we have the slightest influence post something about Marc, Keith, & Tom. Anything. Decry the drug war. Rail against the communist-based, narco-trafficking insurgents. Rage against Western imperialism in Latin America for all I care. Just remember Marc, Keith, & Tom. Express concern for their welfare, and hope for their freedom. Demonstrate to their families that they are not forgotten. Help spread the word. If you have a blog, mark the date, prepare a post. If you don’t, send an email to your favorite blog. I don’t care if anyone link’s to this post, I really don’t. Just get something posted. Let’s spread this far and wide. This is something that can cross nearly all ideological boundaries. I don’t know what good this can do, but I would like to think that it might elevate the issue in the minds of influential parties. Hostages have been released for lesser public relations reasons.
In the coming weeks, I intend to post more about their captivity, the FARC, the hundreds of other Colombian hostages, and Colombia’s 40+ year civil insurgency. I will, without doubt, include much subjective vitriol against USG policy related to the drug war, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is Marc, Keith, & Tom.

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