Colombia: Hostage rescue a triumph for Uribe

With the rescue of the FARC hostages last week, Colombian President Uribe is now seen as the Latin American leader with the clearest vision and the strongest leadership.

“Colombia is rejoicing,” said Bogotá’s El Mundo in an editorial. The army’s daring rescue last week of more than a dozen hostages held by the FARC rebel group fills everyone with pride and patriotism. Military intelligence infiltrated the FARC and tricked the group into handing over Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian ex-presidential candidate who was kidnapped six years ago. Three American military contractors and 11 other Colombians were also rescued. The operation was brilliant: The undercover commandos told the FARC they were transferring the hostages to another FARC camp. They loaded the captives aboard two helicopters and simply flew them to safety without firing a shot. The rescue “will go down in history” as one of the boldest and most successful the world has seen.

Hollywood could not have scripted a more inspiring tale, said Bogotá’s El Nuevo Siglo. And the lead, the hero, is indisputably Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez. “It is this president, calm and with the courage of his convictions, who will revitalize the country.” Uribe consistently refused to negotiate with the terrorists or “cede one inch of territory” to them. “It is no exaggeration to say that Uribe has liberated the country from the yoke of the FARC.” The group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was originally the military wing of the Communist Party and became a guerrilla group in the 1960s. Since the 1980s, it has controlled the cocaine trade, terrorizing Colombians with hostage-taking and murder. Now, with Uribe’s triumph, the group is completely discredited. It may still hold hostages and control some coca fields, but ultimately the FARC has lost.

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