“Osorio devastated the Fiscalía” Humanitarian exchange (1): Chávez, from hero to zero
Jan 102008

CNN’s website has video of the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González de Perdomo earlier today. This YouTube channel has more.

The images of the families being reunited on that tarmac in Venezuela are absolutely beautiful. Especially after too many years of unremittingly terrible news about the FARC hostages.

Perhaps it was in questionable taste to have a TeleSur camera crew accompany the International Red Cross to the pickup site, to film the freed hostages thanking Hugo Chávez by satellite phone. But never mind.

It’s probably too much to hope for this to be a turning point in the long, sad story of the FARC’s kidnap victims. But let’s all hope anyway. Dozens more hostages are still waiting for their moment.

32 Responses to “Clara and Consuelo are free”

  1. LFM Says:

    I must confess I’m changing my mind. For years I thought that the “humanitarian exchange” would be a case of much ado about nothing. That, yes, some hostages could be freed but that immediately after the war would resume unchanged. In recent days I’m becoming more of an optimist and my optimism was rewarded sooner that I thought. Turns out that Uribe isn’t that “furibista” after all. His performance today was sober. I didn’t perceive the tone and body language of other occasions. He even talked about “reaching peace”! He broached the topic of an “encounter zone” proposed by the Catholic Church. Of course, he’s not going to become a dove overnight. But I think you all agree with me that, comparing his speech today with the language of his followers, he came across as reasonable and pragmatic.

    I hate making prognoses of any kind but I’ve been speculating about the following scenario: some quarters of the “furibismo” have worked themselves into a frenzy believing that the annihilation of the FARC is a matter of a few bombing raids. If you think we have too much of that in this blog, wait till you check El Tiempo! But Uribe and the Army are not stupid (I’ve always recognized that the guy’s smart). Sometimes I think that he understands that, if finishing off the FARC were that easy, he would have done it years ago (or any of his predecessors for that matter). So, and here goes my scenario, what if Uribe starts, reasonably enough, to “define victory down”? What if, we start seeing a comeback of Lopez Michelsen’s doctrine of “military defeat to force political negotiations”? That will imply a political cost for Uribe. (I think I know somebody who would start pulling his hair.) But, hey, if the guy is the great statesman his supporters think, shouldn’t he be willing to pay political costs? That’s what statesmen do!

  2. Camilla Says:

    If Uribe separates the FARC from the hostages, even if Chavez cavorts for TV cameras and claims credit, he will have no reason left not to pound the hell out of them and ensure their surrender. They are surrendering anyway, so it’s kind of working itself out. The FARC are starving, disintegrating, defecting, snitching, falling apart, nobody wants to be them. Their only hope is for Hugo to buy them big new fancy weapons so they’ll probably bet on that in exchange for the hostages released on conditions that they contribute to Hugo’s glory. The Europeans are so naive they’ll give him a Nobel peace prize and never mind the other stuff Hugo’s getting out of it. I hope they do, it will scupper the respectability of that award for good.

    I watched the video and most of it disgusted me. It was like an big ad for Hugo Chavez crunchies. Not only was Telesur (whose staff wear FARC tshirts and who glorified Tirofijo in their first broadcast) onhand, they stuck Rojas in a Chavista vest, like a brand-name product placement. Cordoba conspicuously wore the red of her hero (which by the way, virtually no one outside the Chavista government including poor people will wear these days in CCS). Then they had the hostages talk to Chavez on the phone before they could phone their own families – ah, but Chavez is the father of all us little people, perhaps the reasoning went. Then Chavez, this time in a suit pretending to be statesmen instead of in his illegally worn fatigues costume with the bright red beret and phony charts came out, picked up some kid and placed himself in the center of the group photo, sending out the message to all that it was all about him, not the hostages. How gross can a dictator get?

  3. Peter Says:

    Dear Camilla,

    I’m following this blog for some weeks now, not participating in the discussions because I want to be well informed before I begin to sprout opinions. (I only discovered this blog two months ago, and I must say that following it up -and tracking back all the articles ever posted- helps a lot to keep informed about the current situation in Colombia.)

    But Camilla. You seem like a terrible woman to start a discussion with, so I’ll try to avoid that, but for heavens’ sake, you’re so utterly embittered. Couldn’t you for one instance be glad that those hostages are released? Is it really necessary to be so hateful at a moment like this? Agreed, Chavez looked like a donut wrapped-up in the Venezuelan flag. Agreed, it’s bad taste to wriggle yourself in the spotlights like this. Agreed, he probably made some secret deal with the FARC to get these people free. But why do you have to begin fulminating endlessly every time you see his face, as if it’s some sort of Pavlov-reflex? You’re not giving any information, you’re just raging.
    This is the best news to come from Colombia in months, and if you’re not happy right now, I don’t see how you can love Colombia at all.

  4. Jesus Reyes Says:

    “The FARC are starving, disintegrating, defecting,…”

    I thought the FARC were wealthy drug dealers.

  5. LFM Says:

    I’m on record as a leftist (no, not a mass murderer, not a guerrilla sympathizer, thank you) but that doesn’t mean I can’t read or even on occasions agree with conservatives. I recommend today’s column by Eduardo Posada Carbo in El Tiempo

    http://www.eltiempo.com/opinion/columnistas/eduardoposadacarb/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3915809.html

    I often disagree with him. In a peaceful Colombia we would never be in the same cause. But here’s an example of a measured reflection. (I happen to have met him a few times several years ago and he’s a very civil person.)

    Here’s what I like of his column: he states what should already be obvious: the FARC’s criminal behavior is unconscionable but repeating it until we’re blue in the face is no longer serving any purpose with the international community. Yes, it may make us feel better and it may play into the murderous fantasies of some Colombians, but it’s not winning the war or bringing peace any closer.

    I’m not sure about his solution, though. He’s been arguing for this “national agreement” for quite a while but I don’t see what exactly it would be and how to get it to work. Plus, if that’s ever going to happen, the initiative should come from the government. After all, this is the government’s responsibility.

    This whole brokerage began when Uribe told Senator Cordoba that she should give it a try just to see for herself that “it’s impossible with those people.” Well, we’re very far from the complete liberation but now there’s progress. So probably, some things are possible after all. More things would be possible if the government convened the opposition and starts pushing through the small crevice that has been opened.

  6. Randy Paul Says:

    Unquestionably good news. Also, what Peter said.

  7. Camilla Says:

    Always the stalking troll, aren’t you, Randy-Paul? Quite a consistent one.

    Dear Peter:

    Ah, yet another one who writes a letter-like address to me and then begins it off with a long paragraph about not wanting to start a conversation with me. I could write a book about you all!

    I am the one who loves Colombia because I hate terrorists and would stop who would destroy it. I believe in Colombia’s democracy and do not want to hand it over to FARC and its vile communal plans that are utterly hostile to the individual. Yes, I am glad the hostages are free, who wouldn’t be? But turning it into a product placement ad for Hugo Chavez is pretty despicable and should be noted, not glossed over. It’s more than bad taste. In fact, let me give you some information which you think you aren’t aware of: It’s because it’s part of a plan, and anyone who seriously watches Chavez instead of secretly romanticizes him will know this.

    Here’s your new information to expand your understanding of this beyond bad taste: it doesn’t just end when the Telesur cameras go home. Hugo, you must understand, wants neither Colombian nor Venezuelan democracy – he wants a Cuban style regime wrapped in a Bolivarian conquest of reunion dream. That’s why I think Colombian democracy and its voters’ choices are worth standing up for and fighting. and he’s seeking to rebound from a voter rejection in December, one which will not stop him by the way, just cause him to look for distractions and lay low before he can implement his plan when guards are down.

  8. Camilla Says:

    Palabras de Rodríguez Chacín al despedirse de las FARC:

    “Ehh…en nombre del Presidente Chavez…estamos muy pendientes de su lucha. Mantengan ese espiritu, mantengan esa fuerza y cuenten con nosotros.”

    Video Clip:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x40hfz_la-despedida-de-rodriguez-chacin-a_news

  9. lfm Says:

    Definitely my original skepticism about the hostage liberation seems every day more and more misplaced. Now the FARC have released a communique of their own. Of course, it repeats the disgusting canard about Emmanuel been “kidnapped” by the government and some others. But that’s what they would say, wouldn’t they? You don’t read that stuff for enlightenment, of course. Anyway, once you read past that, they also bring themselves to say that this liberation could be a first step toward peace. This is quite a departure. For years it looked like they saw the “humanitarian exchange” only as a way of getting their fighters out of jail. Now it seems to be taking a different meaning. So, in less than 24 hours BOTH the FARC and Uribe have managed to, through gritted teeth, utter the “P-word”.

  10. jcg Says:

    When I originally saw and heard that yesterday, Camilla, quite a few things began to circle around in my head, and still do…

    However, even so, this humanitarian operation continues to be a positive thing and hopefully it’s a sign of better things to come, despite whatever one may think about this particular individual and the words he employed.

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    Camilla,

    Don’t flatter yourself. I’m hardly a troll. I explained my feelings on the Colombian conflict to you here, please do not blame me for your failure to engage my comments.

    I will repeat the two key points, however, should you be unable to bestir yourself to click the link:

    My sympathies lie solely with the innocent victims of this conflict on both sides. Many years ago I dated a woman from Santa Marta whose brother was kidnapped and killed by the FARC. I live in a community in New York called Jackson Heights, which, as you may know, has a large Colombian emigre population. Over the years I have met people who have had family members who have been killed and/or threatened by the AUC.

    I just don’t have much tolerance for a simple, cheerleading view of President Uribe as you certainly appear to have. Too many people are suffering for anyone to be cheering.

    If it gives you warm feelings to call me a troll -while ignoring my attempts to engage seriously your inflammatory comments – have at it. I’ll let others judge who is actually the troll.

  12. Kyle Says:

    There’s entirely too much debate going on here and not enough celebratory remarks. JCG got it right. And so did Adam. This is phenomenal to see them free again. The manner in which they were given their liberty should continue to be utilized as it seems to be the best option that both sides are willing to trust. No despejes, no issues with guns, no military operation issues, etc. It is great to see Clara and Consuelo freed.

  13. Kyle Says:

    I guess I am just saying we should remember why we are doing all of this analysis and debate: for peace and human rights. Even Camilla, though hypocritically, incompletely, ignorantly, etc, believes in the human rights. Let us not turn into a game of political points as so many others in the world have.

  14. Cam2.0 Says:

    Hi All:

    I’m new to this blog. In fact, I’m new to this life. I don’t have an independent existence. I am a right-wing participant product of LFM’s imagination. Sometimes it’s boring to have a discussion where everybody thinks pretty much alike and it would be cool to have a right-winger in this mostly left-of-center blog. The problem is, I’ve been told, that the in-house right-winger keeps breaking all the rules of engagement of a civilized discussion. So, LFM has created me to play that role. I won’t insult anybody, misrepresent views or spout unnecessary hate. If I do, LFM will just delete me. All you’ll get from me is straight conservative arguments.

    Here’s my first one: Chavez has shown his true colors and, as Pastrana would have it, Colombia should break relationships with his government. What he said is the last in a very long chain of outrageous comments (and actions). He’s clearly in cahoots with the FARC and it’s time to draw the line.

  15. LFM Says:

    Good job Cam2.0. If you keep it up, I’ll keep you around. Look, I agree that Chavez’s remarks are a serious transgression in international relationships. It’s serious and perhaps the Uribe Administration should lodge a protest. Now, before we get all worked up about this, let’s breathe up to 10 because this is serious. If we mishandle this, the situation can escalate in terrible ways, think El Salvador-Nicaragua in the 80’s.

    First, it would be foolish to deny that it is possible that Chavez will help the FARC in deeper ways than what he already is. Right now, I surmise that it’s been mostly “extra-curricular” activities but it could get worse. Experience shows that the best chance at victory from any guerrilla group is if it receives help from a neighboring country. So, yes, this could be a nightmare scenario. But breaking relations and thumping our chest isn’t going to stop it. If Chavez starts sending real hardware to the FARC, short of invading Venezuela (or attacking it) there isn’t much Colombia can do. I believe that if it comes to that, the US will help. We’re not there yet, so let’s use the leeway we have to keep this from exploding.

    Probably a protest note, asking for the Venezuelan government to state publicly that it meant it’s statement as just a “proposal” and not a condition for normalized relations would do the trick.

    Second, granted that Chavez should never have said what he did, probably the substance of his proposal should be studied.

  16. Cam2.0 Says:

    It is impossible to grant belligerant status to a terrorist organization like the FARC. Their criminal actions have made that a moral impossibility. They are not even a political group, they are criminals.

  17. LFM Says:

    The dichotomy between terrorist organizations and political groups is false. Historically many purely political guerrillas have committed heinous crimes and have financed themselves with crime. (Yes, even by those standards, the FARC are an aberrant case but it’s a difference of degree, not of nature.)

    Yesterday I saw on TV a smart senator from Colombia (whose name didn’t ring a bell) saying something smart: what if we tell the FARC that they could conceivably receive belligerant status IF they free the hostages?

  18. Cam2.0 Says:

    That’s stupid. The belligerant status will give them a terrible political boost, just when they’re almost finished. This is no time to let go. Military victory is around the corner.

  19. LFM Says:

    In all the discussions on this topic I haven’t seen anybody making a simple point: belligerance can be granted with a stroke of a pen. Not one soldier needs to move for that. In that sense, it wouldn’t imperil any of the military gains the government has obtained in recent years. Militarily speaking, it is cheaper and easier than any DMZ.

    You’re right that it would give the FARC a political boost and that has its risks. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves about that. But let’s consider them. The worst political risk would be to have governments using the belligerance status to give military aid to the FARC. The chances of that right now are nil. Again, probably Chavez might want to do it, but he can do it with or without belligerance because he is just next doors.

    Instead there might be benefits: if the FARC have political status, they will be somehow under obligation to explain in front of other governments their heinous crimes. Incidentally, this could also help for the Chavez situation. It’s important to keep Chavez taking public positions that we can hold him accountable for. If we can get him on record saying that he supports belligerance as a way to facilitate negotiations and not as a way of funneling military support, probably we can later go to the UN in case he gives weapons to the FARC.

    As for military victory, there have been gains and, yes, victory is a possibility. But there are diminishing returns in this. The next stages are likely to be harder because the FARC will be more dispersed.

    Of course, the FARC can be annihilated. You’re right about that. But probably there is no need for going all the way. Probably we are approaching a good point from which to obtain a breakthrough: with a FARC in the defensive militarily, a signal that there might be a political settlement is more likely to be accepted. Sometimes in politics you have to know how to take yes for an answer.

  20. Cam2.0 Says:

    Your solution just rewards terrorists, without any guarantee of any peace. It’s been tried before and hasn’t worked.

  21. Camilla Says:

    LFM: Agree with you on 13.

    I think international pressure should be stepped up to put Chavez on the defensive. He should be pressured to clean out the 7 FARC camps described by El Pais with whatever other verification is possible. Everyone I met in Yaracuy last year said the FARC was all over. Cattle ranchers told me the only buyers of their about-to-be-expropriated ranches were FARC, who had no fear of the Vz government.

    He should also be pressed to change the bullet size of the bullets being manufactured in his new bullet factory. When that was announced last year, many people in Vz were remarking that the bullets matched the ones the FARC used. Same deal with the 100,000 Russian rifles he bought last year, as well as the old ones they replace – many thought the guns would fall into the hands of the FARC. If Chavez wants to show good faith, he can start using something different. I am not saying anyone can make him. But it can be made clear to him that if he wants to be above suspicion, he needs to use some other kind of weaponry than that of the FARC – and if he is caught funneling it to them, he should get some kind of sanction.

    He also should be pressed to reveal the names of his FARC contacts and make them transparent. Who are these FARC secret agents he consorts with to plot against his neighbor? Knowing him, international pressure won’t force him to give anything or anyone up, but knowing that someone is after his prized contacts might make him more cautious about getting on the phone with them or however it is he consorts with them.

    If it’s true, as is being spread around in Bogota, that Chavez gave FARC $5 million cash in exchange for the hostages, the intelligence services of Colombia or the US or both need to work overtime to prove it and hold it up to shame and maybe some kind of sanctions. This is a job for spies and I hope they are up to the job for once.

    Basically, anyone who cares about Colombia needs to put Chavez on the spot for this. I think it’s increasingly obvious that his involvement with the FARC is more intense than he’s previously stated, and he may intensify it more, and this is edging into war territory.

    Will Colombia be drawn into a war? I don’t see it happening without a lot of proof but it will come down to – does Colombia think it worth it to lose $4 billion in trade for this, or not? I am guessing they are going to use diplomatic means for awhile. So, I hope it can pressure him to take up other projects than supporting and bankrolling FARC.

  22. LFM Says:

    Diplomacy is the way for now. I’m in now position to know and maybe this is entirely off-mark, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Colombian government has been involved in some strange maneuvers in Venezuela and that Chavez knows about them. Of course, it wouldn’t compare with helping a guerrilla armed to the teeth, but Venezuela could use that against Colombia if we fuss excessively.

    A more substantive point is that this doesn’t need to be an either/or thing. The government could try to get Chavez to clarify things, again, getting him to go on record with something he can be held accountable for later AND simultaneously study the option of granting belligerant status to the FARC.

    Of course, belligerance has risks, but it should be studied. It has an important implication that many people will no doubt find unsavory: it implicitly changes the definition of the end game. If the FARC are given, or to be more precise, are allowed to earn, through some gestures, the belligerant status, it means that the purpose of the war effort is a peace settlement, not the absolute annihilation of the FARC. But turns out that, between the lines, Uribe keeps hinting at this. I just saw a recycled interview with him where he touts (misleadingly in my view, but that’s another topic) the settlement with the paramilitary as a model for a future settlement with the FARC. Want me to repeat that? As a model for a future settlement with the FARC. Yeah, I know, I also almost freaked out when I heard him say this.

    So, if we’re planning on some day, somehow reaching a settlement with the FARC anyway, if the government has the military upper hand now, why not moving in that direction? What are we waiting? Are we waiting for Chavez possibly to replenish the FARC’s arsenal? Are we waiting for the paramilitary to go on more rampages to do the counterinsurgency operations? To me the first thing sounds reckless, the second immoral.

  23. Camilla Says:

    As long as the bad ones, the ones who kidnapped people and massacred villages and trafficked drugs get put in jail, same deal as the paras, I can live with it. Illiterate farmers who just did what they were told as footsoldiers, I have no problem reintegrating them in society, same as the paras. But a monster like Marulanda has to go to jail, though I’d rather see him shot and then fed to pigs without the delay of jail. I suppose the fact that he can never be let off with no punishment will preclude him from ever agreeing to a peace settlement. Nevertheless with the FARC clearly fragmenting, same as the paras did, a peace settlement with big chunks of their organization breaking off, is possible. The fragmenting is an opportunity, because many of these guys are not the old guard and the radical-chic intellectuals who make up the FARC inner circle. And of course, there is no peace settlement without all the hostages freed.

    But I think FARC has a conscience that is still too dirty to really be able to handle a peace settlement, they’ve just done too many horrible things that can’t be let off scotfree. If they were real footsoldiers, it would be a lot easier, but these guys are psychopaths who’ve caused pointless horror and misery in the name of their cause. Worse yet, they still dream of their Marxist conquest of the country and see their worst obstacle as just getting through the next three years to get Uribe out of there. If they can last those three years, they fully expect for a milquetoast to be in office, particularly one who has obligations to Hugo Chavez, who will give them all the concessions they like. That will be when their real battle starts, when their real takeover plan kicks in and in the end they expect victory.

    This FARC vision of a gleaming victory makes any peace settlement tough because I feel they think they can win so much more by just waiting for the big prize in three years – why give it all up now, in other words. They always have outrageous, grandiose demands, so it signals to me that they will always be greedy for the biggest prizes instead of the most certain ones.

  24. Kyle Says:

    Just a side note Camilla, Marulanda did say in July that Uribe has hit them so hard that it is likely they will not recover. Though I think you are right in that they are probably waiting out the last few years of Uribe. What they are waiting out for, who knows? They may want to negotiate, depending on the president, or they may want to regain some territory. Probably a little of both.
    I’d personally rather see Marulanda in jail than shot and fed to the pigs… It’s a little too hypocritical. But I think Marulanda will die in the jungle, having received no punishment except that of failing in his life’s mission…

  25. Kyle Says:

    Oh yeah, Chavez asking for the lifting of the terrorist designation is just being stupid now… Even if the FARC and ELN deserved it, he is asking Uribe. Uribe would probably only do it if the FARC promised to commit collective suicide, and even then, he might not, not wanting to be fooled by them.
    As for the actual substance of the matter, I think Chavez is wrong here. He should use his sway to remind the FARC that they must release all hostages unconditionally under international law and that the release of Clara and Consuelo should not come with a “price.” As for the ELN, he should remind them that they are already negotiating, albeit at a snail’s pace. He also should not say that they have support or whatever he said i Venezuela. It is one thing if everyone knows it but it is unacknowledged, it is another to acknowledge sympathies.
    At the same time, Uribe had originally not actually believed that he could destroy the FARC but put them under immense pressure so that they would negotiate, taking into account domestic pressures and geographic, political and economic realities. I do not think that giving them belligerent status is important. While to some it may a truism that one does not negotiate with terrorists, it is only an opinion. Even terrorists are given somewhat of a political status in almost all of the over 100 definitions. A general definition will say that the group has political motivations, so giving them belligerent status is really nothing important, almost moot, except when it comes to public relations. It may be huge that Uribe is giving the FARC the status thus acknowledging the FARC as having political ends, but he has been doing it all along when he says terrorists. When he says they have no political ends and so on, then calls them terrorists, unwittingly giving them some political aspect. It is mainly a symbolic gesture in my eyes. Uribe could negotiate with the FARC if he had the will to do so, and the FARC could negotiate with Uribe if they were willing to risk a little. The issue is that neither side trusts each other. So even if the FARC could get a political status that would allow the government to negotiate with them, we already know that they will probably not even be able to make it to the table to do so, lamentably.

  26. Alejandro Pelaez Says:

    I agree with camilla

  27. LFM Says:

    Kyle: You know I often agree with you but this time I have a slight discrepancy. Belligerance may not be a purely symbolic matter. In the extreme, it could be tremendously important and helpful for the FARC. Fortunately, I don’t think such extremes are likely right now; we shouldn’t worry too much about them. What I mean is that, taken to its logical consequences, belligerance could mean that foreign governments are allowed to openly give support to the FARC and that they could be an interlocutor with the international community. If you worry about Putin openly sending materiel to the FARC or that we will be treated to Raul Reyes addressing the UN’s General Assembly, then you have much less problems in your life that most people I know.

    Now, although such extremes are outlandish, belligerance has some potential political benefits for the FARC. Like I already said, I support belligerance, of course on condition of a change of behavior of the FARC, but I don’t think we should take this step without knowing its implications. It would mean that the FARC can have political delegations in other countries, it may have consequences for the trial and processing of FARC combatants imprisoned in the future, and so on.

    Now, the beauty of the system, and that’s why I think it’s a good idea, is that, although it benefits the FARC as a whole, it benefits more those elements of the FARC easier to deal with, empowering them vis-a-vis the worst elements. In the current context of international law, those people more directly implicated in crimes of war will sooner or later face legal consequences. Instead, those with a more political bent are more likely to get a better deal and reintegrated into society.

    I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of the FARC but my journalism contacts have told me that in the latest Conference the “political” wing of the FARC made progress and is probably smarting out to the fact that, if they don’t look for a way out of the wilderness (literal and figurative) the criminal behavior of the “military” wing may end up taking down all of them. This is good news and we should try to use that to pry an opening within the two wings of the FARC to facilitate peace talks. Belligerance, well-managed and in the framework of an agreement of the FARC to respect humanitarian law, could be precisely the thing.

  28. Kyle Says:

    LFM: You make some good points, and worry not, I am not worrying about Putin sending materiel to the FARC nor Reyes in the UN; they are outlandish (though I have to say, I wish I were worrying about them, for the reason you pointed out.)
    I guess my biggest qualm is not necessarily the pros or cons, as I agree that the worst elements will eventually get what is coming to them, the political elements, which as I understand are heavily hindered and outnumbered by military leaders, need to get something done on the political front, etc, but the fact that I do not feel the FARC meet the requirements. Thus, that is why giving them belligerent status will be mostly symbolic. It will be as such because it cannot be because of fact, or a need/want to negotiate which I addresses earlier.
    If you take a quick look at Paul Wolff’s article, he lays out the the requirements needed in an easy way. I do not think the FARC meet the 3rd requirement. I have to ask the international law experts I know to find their opinion, which will influence mine. But as Wolff argues, the FARC may not meet the 3rd requirement, but no one does in Colombia’s war and thus the law would be spread unevenly upon groups in Colombia. I think while it would be a double-standard by Uribe, he would be right this time (wrong the first) but it is a little late.
    On the other hand, if Uribe (or more importantly Colombia and the international community) feels that to negotiate with the FARC they need belligerent status, I would be willing to support it. As your second to last sentence says, if it could be a way to get peace talks going, then yes, I’d support it in that sense. Maybe the FARC would be more clear with everyone if their “price” got paid. Without this assurance though, I do not support it.
    Maybe it can be given to them, and then see how peace attempts go, and then taken away for lack of action. In this scenario, I hope it is not Uribe making the call though…

  29. Kyle Says:

    In some un-realted news, I have not been able to confirm it with two sources, but it looks that Ecuador may be suing Colombia for fumigation damage along the border…

  30. LFM Says:

    OK, so some weird astrological phenomenon seems to have happened with the new year. Probably those stoned hippies that kept warning about a new era were right after all. Otherwise I can’t understand why, for a while, I ended up to the RIGHT of Uribe. A few days ago I mentioned here that a protest note to Venezuela would be appropriate. Now, several news cycles later, there’s nothing of that and, moreover, Uribe instead of taking the mic in a military academy to yell his response, decides to react in a letter to Sarkozy. And, guess what? He says that he would consider withdrawing the label of terrorists to the FARC if they enter a peace process. Lots of possible explanations are swirling in my mind right now but I guess I’ll first buy some incense and wait to see where the constellations are tonight. Probably I can find some pot around here and a wican to tell me what kind of ritual it will take to figure this out. Weird….

  31. jcg Says:

    Political status and belligerent status aren’t the same thing though…I can easily see FARC losing their place in terror lists and regaining political status in the eyes of the Colombian government, under certain conditions.

    But belligerence…it has too many implications which, outside of peace process, may complicate things too much.

  32. lfm Says:

    Absolutely. I don’t think belligerence will (or even should) happen without a serious peace process.

    Now, more on “news from the weird side.” I just saw that ex-senator Gechen sent a letter to his wife as part of the “proofs of life of the hostages.” Aside from the touching human tragedy that all these people are going through, this development has an almost surreal component: Gechen floats the idea of being sent to Cuba to receive medical treatment while remaining as “political hostage” (his words).

    Of course it’s likely that this is the desperate idea of a poor man under tremendous duress. But somehow I wonder, what if this is something vetted with the FARC? The reason I ask is because the only way this proposal makes the slightest sense at all is, again, within the framework of a negotiation process. Think what you may of the Cuban government, but I believe there is no chance in hell they would accept to keep a hostage for a guerrilla organization without any hint of demobilizing.

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