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Who won, and lost, in Colombia’s hostage rescue
Rescuing rebels’ captives could have big repercussions.
W

hat happened
Colombian undercover agents rescued 15 hostages held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, including the FARC’s four highest-profile captives—former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors. The bloodless rescue was announced hours after U.S. presidential candidate John McCain left Colombia. (The Miami Herald)

What the commentators said
This is a huge disaster for the FARC, said Will Stebbins in Al Jazeera. The group is “stripped of its most valuable bargaining chips,” and a raid that relied on government moles instead of force could spread "seeds of mistrust” that will tear the rebels apart from within.

The FARC’s loss is “one more antiterror win for Colombian President Álvaro Uribe,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. He had tried everything to negotiate the release of the hostages, and he got the job done by sticking to his guns instead of listening to French politicians and U.S. Democrats who urged more concessions.

Another winner might be McCain, said Frank James in the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp blog. Uribe made McCain look presidential by briefing him before the raid, and the Colombian leader certainly would be happy to help McCain beat Democrat Barack Obama, who doesn’t support a pending U.S.-Colombia free trade pact.

This wasn't a total victory, said Katie Hunter in Foreign Policy’s Passport blog.  “Hundreds of others reportedly remain behind in the guerrilla group’s hands,” so the celebrations will be bittersweet.

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