Thursday, July 3, 2008, is another historic day. On that day 15 hostages were liberated from FARC – a marxist-leninist terrorist organization operating on part of the territories of Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador, according to http://www.fas.org/
. The terrorist organization is most famous for its activities in Colombia. Among those 15 hostages 3 are American citizens, 11 are Colombian citizens and 1 is a person of double citizenship. That person is the one whom the media paid most attention to. Of course, I am talking about Ingrid Betancourt. A charismatic woman, a former presidential candidate, a person of Colombian and French citizenship, a loving mother, a dedicated politician – those are few of the characteristics that this woman is presented with.
Six years ago presidential campaigns in Colombia were on their way. Presidential candidates were giving their messages to the Colombian people on television, on radio and on open air. Two were the main competitors for the honorable position in the Colombian government: Alvaro Uribe and Ingrid Betancourt. The latter decided to campaign everywhere – even on territories that were under the rule of FARC, and that was a mistake that even she admitted to have regreted to do it although not entirely. The consequences were, the guerilla kidnapped her and she has never been seen again for the next six years.
What a boneheaded mistake, some would say, to campaign on a territory that is under the rule of a terrorist organization that is famous for having about 700 people as hostages! Some of those people who have this statement in their minds may be asking themselves why exactly Ingrid Betancourt decided to campaign there. Is it because of bravery? Or is it because of stupidity? Some probably even see certain form of conspiracy, that is, she knew the whole scenario from the very beginning but wanted it to happen because it served certain interests like the Israeli ones, for example, and those conspiracy theorists will indicate the Israeli secret services involved in the recent military operation as an argument of their statement. Unfortunately, wherever where there are Israeli or people of Jewish origin involved, conspiracy is present in some people’s minds. However, there is no need to comment on this particular hypothesis since it is more of a search of popularity rather than anything else. I cannot call it a mystery. After all, Ingrid Betancourt is not the only politician kidnapped by FARC so far. The terrorist organization’s 700 victims are mainly politicians. Some of them are even alleged to be FBI agents.
What I call mystery is the military operation that led to the liberation of those 15 hostages. It was a military operation that did not cost lives or injured people – the Colombian army just managed to save them without the FARC’s consent. Or at least it is the general information that the media gave us. If this is true, it is worthy of a Rambo-type American action film in which the good eventually vanquishes the evil like it always does.
Here’s what the military operation was all about described by Colombia’s Minister of Defense Mr. Santos:
The hostages were divided into three groups, so the
guerrillas were persuaded to bring them all together at a point where they would
supposedly be transported to the south of the country to be under the direct
orders of Alfonso Cano, ‘the rebels’ top leader… It was arranged that the
hostages would be picked up at a predetermined site by helicopters belonging to
a non-existent humanitarian organization, and for Cesar himself and another
member of his staff to travel with the captives to personally hand them over to
Alfonso Cano… But the helicopters, which were really army aircraft, picked up
the hostages and took them to San José, the capital of Guaviare.
The operation was called “Jaque” or check as in chess: a good name for a good military operation. Was FARC in a check situation though? Are they in a check situation now without those 15 hostages, because with operations like this their overall hostages may gradually decrease thus weakening their influence in the region. Those are hard questions although most people believe that this is the beginning of the end of this marxist-leninist guerilla.
No matter how professional that military operation was, I still cannot imagine it as one similar to those in most of the American action films. It’s not that what is happening very often in those films can never happen in reality and it’s not that I question the professionals’ brilliant skills. It’s just that I can hardly imagine a long-time famous guerilla being fooled that easily. Believe it or not I read several times the Defense Minister’s words and I was more than amazed at FARC’s stupidity.
My doubts increased after I read the next day what the French newspaper, Libération, wrote about Ingrid Betancourt’s liberation. First of all, I think that the French people’s extreme pride of what they have done to rescue a compatriot are rather exaggerated. I see it more like part of their nostalgia toward those years when France was one of the greatest powers in the world. In my opinion, this is one of the things President Nicolas Sarkozy will be remembered with in the future – having such type of foreign policy. After all, Ingrid Betancourt is 100% Colombian. There is nothing French in her origin.
Libération cited a Swiss radio, Radio Suisse Romande, that mentioned something that will probably remain unknown by most of the people, just because the mainstream media did not pay enough attention to it. The radio stated that Ingrid Betancourt and the other 14 hostages had actually been freed for money in exchange. RSR is talking about around 20 million dollars, most of them having been paid by the United States. One of the reason is, the three freed U.S. citizens were actually FBI agents, according to the radio that even mentioned FARC whose members confessed to that.
If what the RSR said were true, I would not assume that it is the beginning of the end of FARC. 20 million dollars is a lot of money, especially for a guerilla. What is going to happen with FARC in the next few years is probably the biggest mystery. I am having certain doubts that the members of FARC were losers in this particular situation but I hope I am wrong.
Nevertheless, even if we assume that RSR is telling the truth, good thing that this truth is not known by everybody because in my opinion, certain military operations should be kept in secret. At the end of the day, it is better for certain things to be kept in secret.