How was Ingrid Betancourt really freed?

This video from the USA is called No Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Interview with Clara Gomez.

By Bill Van Auken:

Mounting questions about Colombian hostage operation

7 July 2008

As right-wing politicians on three continents basked in the reflected glory of an ostensibly brilliant July 2 rescue of hostages held by Colombia’s FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) guerrillas, doubts have surfaced as to the real character of this operation.

The freeing of Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian citizen and former presidential candidate, three US military “contractors” employed by the Northrop Grumman corporation and 11 other hostages has been exploited to refurbish the Bush administration’s discredited Latin American policy, to make a hero out of Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president implicated in drug trafficking and paramilitary massacres, and to boost the sagging popularity of France’s right-wing president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Even Senator John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, who staged a visit to Colombia (a fortuitous coincidence?) the day before the hostage release, got in on the act. While in Colombia, he received a briefing from Uribe, enabling him to associate himself with the upcoming operation. …

What all of these figures sought to exploit was the undoubted public sympathy for Betancourt, a mother of two held in the jungle for six years, and the other hostages. In addition, they cast the Colombian operation as a brilliant intelligence coup—described by some as straight out of a Hollywood movie—in the “global war on terror.”

Of course the sympathy generated by government officials and the mass media for Betancourt, not just in Colombia, but in the US, France and throughout Europe, does not extend to many others who have been kidnapped and imprisoned under worse conditions. There is, after all, another place in the Americas where hundreds have been held prisoner for six years, facing torture and brutality after being abducted from their homes. These prisoners, held without charges, have little chance of being similarly rescued, as they are imprisoned by the US military in Guantanamo Bay.

Nor, it should be noted, have the many hundreds of political prisoners languishing in Colombian jails or abducted by the right-wing paramilitary organizations that are intimately tied to the government and the armed forces, received any similar attention. Their social backgrounds are generally quite dissimilar from that of the French-educated Ingrid Betancourt, the daughter of a former government minister and product of the Colombian oligarchy.

As for the operation itself, the comparison to Hollywood may be unintentionally revealing. According to the official story from the Colombian military, intelligence agents succeeded in infiltrating the guerrilla movement and “duping” FARC leaders into believing that elite commandos disguised in Che Guevara T-shirts and military pilots were aid workers, guerrillas and journalists involved in a plan by FARC itself to transfer the hostages by helicopter to another location.

Praise for the operation included the repeated observation that “not a shot was fired.”

That veteran guerrillas would simply turn over the FARC’s most valuable hostages to unknown individuals arriving in a helicopter strains credulity. What makes this account particularly suspect, however, is the entire record of the Colombian military, which hardly calls to mind operations in which “not a shot is fired.” In fact, it has carried out one of the bloodiest campaigns in the hemisphere over the course of decades, fueled over the last 10 years by some $5.4 billion in US military aid.

Between 2002 and 2007, human rights groups documented the extrajudicial killing of nearly 1,000 civilians by the country’s military, as well as another 3,500 murders and disappearances carried out by the right-wing paramilitary units—routinely operating with military support. It was in December 2002 that the Colombian government concluded a ceasefire agreement with the paramilitaries, essentially exonerating them for their crimes, which accounted for the bulk of civilian casualties in the country’s protracted civil war. Nonetheless, the assassinations and massacres have continued.

See also here. And here. And here.

From Associated Press:

PARIS – Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt urged Colombia’s president and others in her South American country Monday to tone down their “radical, extremist language of hate” toward the leftist rebels who held her captive for six years.

2 thoughts on “How was Ingrid Betancourt really freed?

  1. International Action Center

    Political repression is on the rise in Colombia, despite recent news!

    The international community must speak out!

    The International Action Center issues urgent appeal for solidarity with the people of Colombia and to support the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Bogotá, Colombia July 21-23

    Support the fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Colombia and the Tribunal!

    The human rights crisis in Colombia is dire! In the last two weeks, two trade unionists and the 10-year-old son of one of them were killed. According to some unionists, more than 4,000 unionists have been killed in Colombia in the last 20 years. Four million people have been displaced from their homes due to a U.S.-backed war against the civilian population and the social movement.

    Progressive people, including journalists, human rights activists, community leaders and student organizers,
    Make a donation to help send students, anti-war and community activists, and working people to document U.S.-backed abuse in Colombia.
    have been killed, threatened or attacked for mobilizing against economic and political repression.

    In spite of recent events in Colombia, which have captured vast media attention, the reality is that political repression by the Uribe regime goes on day-in-and-day-out against those those who oppose it. This is not publicized by the press. It must be publicized by all who want human rights and justice!

    The attacks are carried out by forces trained, funded and endorsed by the U.S. government. It is part of a war that has dangerous ramifications against the other countries in the region.

    You can help end this war by supporting the Colombian people and by demanding that the U.S. government and corporations stop supporting state terror by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s regime.

    What you can do:

    Send messages of solidarity to the Tribunal!

    Donate here to support the international fact-finding mission to Colombia!

    Send this email out far-and-wide to organizations and individuals to get the truth out!

    The Colombian labor union SINALTRAINAL, which represents Coca-Cola workers, and other progressive organizations are hosting a Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Bogotá, Colombia on July 21-23, and an international labor delegation which will visit hospitals, schools and worker centers, and meet with social organizations,

    The International Action Center is working with the U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange to take a delegation of labor, anti-war and other progressive activists on a fact-finding mission that includes participation in the Tribunal. The delegation will meet with labor and other social activists who are leading the struggle in Colombia for political, economic and social justice and equality. The trip will help participants understand how U.S. policies abroad affect workers in Colombia and in the U.S.

    The fact-finding delegation will bring back the truth to activists in the U.S. about the U.S. role in Colombian repression against students, unionists, human rights activists and other progressives. This will help to build the solidarity movement with the Colombian people.

    Background of Peoples’ Tribunal: The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal is an international independent tribunal that examines and judges complaints regarding violations of human rights that have been submitted by the victims. The Tribunal was founded in June 1979 in Italy by legal experts, writers and other intellectuals. It followed the Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people.

    The upcoming Tribunal session in Bogotá, entitled “Transnational corporations and crimes against humanity,” will be the last held there after four prior hearings on (1) how foreign-owned agribusinesses have affected farmers and Indigenous peoples; (2) the mining companies’ role; (3) the impact of transnational corporate-controlled development on biodiversity and the environment and (4) oil companies and human rights violations.

    The Tribunal is an extremely important event that will help expose the dangerous, and escalating U.S. corporate-backed state repression against people’s movements.

    It will also reinvigorate the many peoples’ movements and progressive forces with the solidarity that international delegations bring.

    Edgar Paez from SINALTRAINAL says of the Tribunal’s purpose: “Through this process we will increase the exposure of the relations between paramilitarism, transnational corporations and the policy of impunity and terror of the Colombian state. Its main purpose is the search for truth, justice and complete reparations. Several transnational corporations have been accused at the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal–Colombia Session, regarding their responsibility for the murder of union leaders for the violation of union freedom and the right of association.”

    This is a critical situation! It needs the attention and help of progressive people throughout the U.S.!

    Tell your friends about it!

    Make a donation to help send students, anti-war and community activists, and working people to document U.S.-backed abuse in Colombia.

    Help with costs of videotaping and publishing reports from the trip–and more!

    Send messages of solidarity to the Peoples’ Tribunal! Ask community, union, religious, anti-war and other organizations and activists to email messages of support!

    Post messages here :


  2. Pingback: The US Tomdispatch website on war and imperialism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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