Feature

Are Colombia’s rebels finished?

A daring rescue could be the end of a revolutionary era.

What happenedNewly freed former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt said she realized a year ago that the South American nation’s largest guerrilla group—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC—was having troubles when supplies became scarce at the jungle camp where she and other kidnapped hostages were held. (The Miami Herald)

What the commentators saidThe rescue was a crushing and possibly fatal blow to “the dying ember of a Marxist revolutionary fire that swept through the region over the past five decades,” said USA Today in an editorial. The Colombian government has shown that with popular support and a professional army it’s possible to defeat an insurgency, and advance the cause of democracy.

The rescue’s success will surely bolster Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s push to defeat the guerrillas once and for all, said Sibylla Brodzinsky in The Christian Science Monitor. “It was such a coup against the FARC that even some of Uribe's most fervent critics are heaping on the praise.”

Let’s hope it also shames the so-called humanitarian groups that have served as “propagandists for terrorists” lurking in the jungle, said Mary Anastasia O’Grady in The Wall Street Journal. Government agents picked up the hostages in a helicopter without firing a shot because the rebels believed they were from a humanitarian group helping to ferry the captives to another hideout, and the kidnappers wouldn't have fallen for it if they weren’t accustomed to getting help from left-wing activists.

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