Venezuela threads the needle Claudia López: “Don’t give up. We are with you”
Dec 042007

Sindy Tumay was arrested late Thursday with proofs-of-life for the FARC’s hostages in her possession. Military intelligence agents had followed her from remote Guaviare department.

“The proofs of life were hidden by Álvaro Uribe’s government so that we could not bring them to President Sarkozy.”

That is what Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, who until November 21 was an officially authorized mediator for the FARC prisoner-exchange talks, told an interviewer from the Mexican daily El Universal. In a piece published this weekend, Córdoba made the very serious allegation that the Uribe government sought to undermine the mediators by intercepting the videos and photos of many FARC hostages, which it then made public on November 30. Sen. Córdoba implies that President Uribe knew that the proofs-of-life existed a week earlier, which influenced his decision to put an end to the role that she and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez were playing in the talks.

The Colombian government denies this, of course. “I don’t know what Piedad Córdoba’s interest might be, or whether she is having hallucinations,” said the head of Colombia’s armed forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla.

Sen. Córdoba does appear to have some of the facts wrong. But what did the Colombian government know, and when did it know it? Could it be possible that President Uribe pulled the plug on a promising negotiation process because he feared a handover of proofs-of-life at an event in Caracas – an event that would give the FARC momentary access to top foreign diplomats and perhaps even U.S. members of Congress?

We really hope not. But consider this hypothesis, from Sunday’s edition of the Colombian newsweekly Semana.

The interception of the proofs of life was an intelligence operation that was very precisely planned and executed. All data indicate that Sindy Yuley [the guerrilla courier whom troops apprehended late Thursday night] was followed for a long time, at a distance of few meters, day and night. It is admirable that the military managed to follow her from the town of Tomachipán, in [the southern province of] Guaviare, to Meta and later to Bogotá, without losing her trail or that of the proofs. Although the authorities deny that they knew what her mission was, it is evident that they waited with a watchmaker’s patience, until she met with her contact from Caracas.

… But if the capture was precise, so is the political chessgame at play behind it. If military intelligence had knowledge of the proofs of life more than a week ago, it is possible that President Álvaro Uribe already knew of their existence at the moment he suspended the mediation of President Hugo Chávez and Senator Piedad Córdoba, on November 21. It is quite probable that, as Uribe himself said, the political calculations that the goverment made by nominating these mediators had failed. With [FARC leader] Iván Márquez soaking up press attention in Caracas without having made any substantial humanitarian gesture, and with Chávez far too talkative, the scenario became too complicated for the government.

That is why Piedad Córdoba’s and Chávez’s phone call to [Army Chief] Gen. Mario Montoya, which triggered the breakdown of their mediation, apparently gave the government the opportunity it needed to shut things down.

The hypothesis that Uribe knew that the proofs were already on the way explains Chávez’s disproprortionate fury. As well as the intention that he apparently had this [past] weekend – with the relatives of the hostages in Caracas and certainly with the proofs – of showing that the FARC were indeed moving toward the exchange.

This morning’s news reports that the Uribe government is seeking to give a bigger role to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Can yet another disappointing outcome possibly be avoided? We can only cross our fingers.

10 Responses to “A question of timing”

  1. Tambopaxi Says:

    Here’s a question: If the GOC was able to pick Sindy Yuley’s (or Tumay’s?) trail so far out in the boonies with POL’s, I wonder how close she was to some of the hostages at the time?

    Put another way, if GOC intel was so good that they latched on to this lady in some little rural town, I’d have to wonder why (or perhaps, whether) they couldn’t have picked up on her trail earlier in the journey, where they might have had a chance to id a FARC hostage camp.

    Yes, yes, we’ve all discussed the risk inherent to hostages in approaching such a setup, but knowing where some of the hostages are is better than nothing….

  2. jcg Says:

    The text you’ve highlighted is closer to what I would assume to be the truth, and deserves to be considered in its own right, but Córdoba’s original claims seems rather weak at this point (the lawyer for the three envoys has already admitted that their detention happened on November 29, IIRC, which make the earlier allegation even less likely to be real, at least as far as we can tell right now).

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jfc, The guerrilla girls are going to be released because of their detention having been illegal. Does “False flag” ring a bell?

  4. Camilla Says:

    Oooooh, I hope it’s false flag. It would be nice to know that the slimebuckets of FARC are infiltrated something fierce. I hope they start killing each other when they get suspicious and the agents escape with the hostages. All terrorists eventually kill each other. Just ask Abu Nidal.

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Mr. Camilla Have you ever thought of having Dr Tenderness examine your sick rotten brain? he might have the formula to ameliorate the conspicuous pedantic sociopathic maledicent syndrome eating up your filthy soul.

  6. jcg Says:

    Jaime Bustos: First, unless you happen to have a crystal ball, it seems you are jumping to conclusions…at least a little.

    The defense lawyer is arguing that they may have been captured without the presence of a prosecutor and wants them to be released for that reason. I don’t know whether that is a valid claim but again, he’s supposed to be *defending* them. That’s his job.

    That is his claim, it is not a proven fact nor the final outcome of the case until there is a ruling that confirms or dismisses it.

    And even so, even an eventual release says absolutely nothing about the rest of the case. Hugo Chávez himself admitted on TV that he had seen at least one of the women in Caracas. At least one of them may be using a false identity (someone else showed up and claimed one of them was using her identity). And finally, the defense lawyer is not questioning the date of their capture, but confirming it.

    The above information hardly makes this a “false positive” at this point, unless you’re automatically determined to believe so, in spite of everything else.

  7. Randy Paul Says:

    It would be nice to know that the slimebuckets of FARC are infiltrated something fierce.

    I would be content to know that they were as well infiltrated as the AUC once infiltrated Colombia’s Congress.

  8. Camilla Says:

    Miss Jaime: Terriby sorry, I didn’t mean to insult your masters.

  9. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Mr Camilo Torres. Nor did I Yours. If you are truly a female then I’ve never read a lousier beatch.

  10. Adam Isacson Says:

    Come on now, people.

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