News about Colombia always pulls me in, ever since I visited Medellin last April. I am going back in late August to Nuqui, a little beach town in the far north. Yesterday’s big news in Colombia and around the world was the raid that freed 15 hostages from the hands of the FARC. It was a brilliant strategy that paid off big.
In the WSJ I read that President Uribe actually told John McCain that he planned the daring rescue while he was visiting. That seems a little risky, to talk about a top secret military operation the day before it happens, but I guess Uribe wanted to share it with his VIP guest.
Colombian military men infiltrated the FARC, and took years planning and figuring out their communications and getting them to trust them. Earlier this week, they sent messages to the guards in a FARC jungle camp that two white, unmarked helicopters were coming, and that they should load the hostages to be moved. The players wore Che Guevara T-shirts, and tied the hostages hands, bundling them forcibly into the helicopters. The hostages thought they were also FARC, and that they were being taken to another camp. “Only after the helicopters were in the air did the captors identify themselves as undercover Colombian military officers, telling the hostages they’d been freed.”
Imagine what that must have felt like seeing the undercover guys faces in big grins, telling these 15 that after five years they were going home! The country is obsessed with the problems of the FARC and this great news makes everyone there very proud. In France, where Ingrid Betancourt one of the hostages lives, television channels interrupted programming to broadcast news her release.
Now the FARC has lost its famous leader ‘Sureshot’ Maulanda and scores of other top level bigs have been killed. They still have 700 more hostages, but the tide is against them and like the Shining Path in Peru, they soon will be extinct.