Hostage rescue may have occurred OpenDemocracy: A miraculous rescue
Jul 032008

“How big a blow is this for the FARC?”
“How much does this help Uribe’s re-election?”
“What does this mean for the free-trade agreement with the United States?”
“Does this help John McCain?”

All we can do is offer educated guesses to these questions, which have been asked of us many times since yesterday afternoon (Huge. Very much. Not much. Only a little.)

More important right now is to pause, watch the jubilant video footage, and enjoy something that far too rare in Colombia: a piece of good news.

Many, many congratulations to the freed hostages and to their families, who worked so tirelessly to keep their loved ones from being forgotten.

Congratulations to the Colombian military and all others involved in yesterday’s rescue operation. Instead of the potentially disastrous commando raid that so many of the hostages’ relatives feared, they chose a far more subtle strategy – one in which a small number of operatives who infiltrated the FARC’s inner circles bore all the risk themselves.

Yesterday’s operation is another in a string of humiliations for the FARC, a group that only a year and a half ago seemed to be geographically unified, hermetically secretive, and rigidly disciplined. No longer. Since June 2007 the FARC have killed 11 of their captives; lost 4 front commanders and three Secretariat members, including Manuel Marulanda – whose death was announced by Colombia’s defense minister; suffered the embarrassing “baby Emmanuel” episode and the capture of guerrilla messengers transporting hostage “proofs of life”; endured two massive anti-FARC protest marches in Colombia; saw their internal communications revealed via Raúl Reyes’ computer; and finally had Hugo Chávez tell them to disband.

Another year like that one, and there won’t be much left to the FARC. They will still be around – they will still have tens of millions of dollars per year in drug money, and thousands of members scattered around the national territory. But their capacity will be radically reduced.

What is interesting about yesterday’s operation – and much that the Colombian government has done in the past year or two – is how different it is than what has not worked in the past. Think about all the anti-FARC strategies that have failed over the past forty years, even during the first years of Álvaro Uribe’s term, many of them supported by the United States:

  • Massive military offensives, like “Plan Patriota,” that have mainly pushed the guerrillas temporarily out of areas that remain barely governed.
  • Efforts to rack up large body counts against the rank-and-file of a guerrilla organization made up mostly of very young, poor, easily replaceable recruits.
  • Intelligence operations aimed at rooting out a supposed guerrilla “support base” among Colombia’s non-violent left – labor movements, human-rights defenders, opposition politicians and others.

Instead, what has worked over the past few years?

  • Putting a much greater focus on intelligence aimed at the guerrillas’ top leadership (and hostage captors). This includes both signals intelligence to intercept their communications, and human intelligence in the form of informants and infiltrators.
  • Making clear to the guerrilla rank-and-file, through public-relations campaigns and the testimonies of previous deserters, that those who surrender to the government will not only not be tortured or disappeared (as too often happened in the past), but they will get job training, perhaps a stipend, and the promise of a new life.
  • Increasing the security forces’ presence in population centers and main roads and (though there is much room for improvement here) making these forces’ main mission protecting citizens instead of treating them as suspects.

What is interesting about these strategies is that, with the exception of increasing manpower and protective presence, they are relatively inexpensive. Compared to big-ticket items like fumigation and “Plan Patriota”-style military offensives, these efforts make up only a sliver of Colombia’s defense budget (and only a sliver of U.S. assistance). Planners of future aid packages to Colombia should take note.

Intelligence work and encouragement of desertion, these relatively cheap but vastly improved capabilities, made yesterday’s bloodless rescue mission possible. It is hard to imagine the Colombian military circa 2003-4 pulling off an operation like this successfully. But yesterday it went without a hitch.

Now let’s go back to enjoying those videos of the freed hostages. We’ve been waiting far too long to see them.

134 Responses to “Without firing a shot”

  1. William Smith Says:

    In the midst of yesterday’s adventure it might have gone overlooked, but Santos claimed in passing that the army had infiltrated the Secretariat. Any more information about this claim? Or who it might be? I presume it wouldn’t be Cano, Jojoy, Marquez, TImochenko. Perhaps one of the new members? What do we know about Paolo Catatumbo? Or Joaquin Gomez? Or perhaps Santos meant to say that they had infiltrated Cano’s innermost circle, his personal guard, etc. somebody who could forge a document to make it look like the orders came directly from Cano?

    Any theories?

  2. Paul Says:

    It makes no sense to separate military offenses from the overall strategy. Uribe had to show his pimp hand was strong in order to maximize the psychological effects of the “cheap ticket” strategies Adam noted. Job training and a stipend are made even more desirable when you are being ruthlessly hunted. As example, in one of the correspondences recovered off the Reyes laptops, a FARC commander who goes by “Daniel” noted, “Uribe’s troops and their lightning operations are dangerous. If one is not careful, you are down without time to respond.”

  3. Block Says:

    I, like everyone else, am very pleased and relieved with the news. I am also very worried about what I saw yesterday from the press conferences. There are many parts of this operation that to me just don’t make sense:

    – The “covertness” of the matter in which they’re still not revealing names of the actors involved in freeing the hostages, in a country that has a long track record of publically lauding all of those acting against the FARC in some way as heroes;

    – the sudden emphasis on non-violence where none has ever existed in the past. I would like to believe this is a change in direction for what has seemed to me as a very callous government in regards to violence, but my skepticism remains;

    – the entire timing of the operation, which provides an incredibly boost to Uribe´s popularity at the very moment when his credibility is most under fire (from the judicial branch especially). I was especially impressed with the comments of all of the freed hostages, who were unanimous in their effusive praise not only for the army (understandable) but for Uribe himself. A couple of the Colombian soldiers mentioned the remaining hostages, or other people for their emotional support, but I was shocked at the similarity between all of their statements. (”Thanks to the glorious army and to our Mr. President!”) Ingrid´s was the only one that, to me, seemed more genuine — she rightly called focus on to the remaining hostages and the people who have already died at the hands of the FARC. The thought did cross my mind that they were coached.

    So what am I saying? I have talked to a couple people who are convinced that this was a dressed-up hostage negotiation, pure and simple, and that the government will be releasing FARC prisoners momentarily if they haven´t already. This would of course occur very quietly and without any sort of press conference.

    This would explain the non-violence of the operation and the timing, and the fact that they can’t name the military personnel involved. It would also fit in with Uribe´s penchant for self-aggrandizement. Of course he would have gained plenty from a straight up negotiation, but might have lost face in regards to previous anti-negotiating comments, plus would never have had the chance to make FARC look as stupid as they do now. I personally do not believe that FARC is as stupid as they have been looking recently.

    My worry comes from the fact that if Uribe wasn´t thinking seriously about a third political term before, he certainly must be now. This comes after his soon-to-be-even-higher popularity, and the fact that Ingrid is now on record saying that it was very fortunate that he got elected a 2nd time. I was watching the news with a strong uribista and she literally jumped up and down and squealed in joy when Ingrid said that.

    Anyway, that´s just an idea, one that seems more possible than many. I have to admit my mind is bent towards conspiracies after reading Peter Dale Scott´s “Drugs, Oil, and War,” but so it goes. I would like to reiterate that, regardless of how they did it, the freeing of these hostages is indeed a joyous moment, and one that is long overdue in Colombia of late.

  4. jcg Says:

    Block: Time will tell if your hypothesis is correct or not.

    I’m, almost by default, a non-believer in most conspiracies, especially the larger and more complex they are without proportionally significant evidence, but I am willing to accept that a small number of them -or at least elements thereof- will have to be correct in the end.

    However, keep in mind that some details, like not naming the military personnel involved can certainly be explained otherwise (I don’t believe that intelligence personnel are publicly lauded that often, to say the least). And frankly, this doesn’t exactly give FARC good PR, so why would they let this happen voluntarily as part of some secret exchange negotiations?

  5. Chris Says:

    I am in complete agreement with a point jcg makes…

    If the FARC were in any way complacent with what occurred yesterday, then they’ve been a significant player in making themselves look like a bunch of idiots. Furthermore, again if they were part of what occurred why did they let go off the most important bunch of captives they had… they had plenty of other hostages to release first… to test the sincerity of the Uribe govt. in negotiations.

    I don’t buy the conspiracy theory… I do think that the complexity of the operation was such, that a tremendous amount of luck occurred. Luck in the sense that if any one aspect of the rescue had veered of course, then they would have had to scrap the whole thing altogether.

  6. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Completely agree with Block. Given the strange circumstances under which every single event takes place under this administration, I still have not been able to figure out whether the negotiators from France and Switzerland stroke the deal with Mr. Cano directly or ransom was paid to the group in charge of the fifteen set free.

    I feel inclined for the first scenario, given the continuous news of a secretive plan to liberate the hostages, and a couple of European negotiators having met Mr. Cano on June 30th in the jungle.

    It’s difficult to solve the puzzle but the army’s role was only to pick them up, that’s for sure. The rest was plain and simple make – believe .

  7. Lou Says:

    Is there trouble on the horizon? I just heard on the radio that there is to be an “homage” to the rescued FARC hostages today in Bolivar Square. But there is also a planned march organized by the Polo to the Palace of Justice, in support of the the Supreme Court decision that marred Uribe’s re-election. I wonder what will happen when the Polo’s march gets to the Plaza and the two groups meet.

  8. Kyle Says:

    I do not think anything about this was make believe. All of the testimonies about the operation confirm what happened; in fact, without negotiations this may have been the only way this was possible. There, as of right now (as pointed out by jcg) is no evidence to point to this as having happened as such. Is it possible? Sure. Can we say it is truth? Not at all. I agree with jcg: time will tell.
    In the mean time, this is great news no matter how it happened. It is great to see 15 people free again, including an American that grew up in the town next to mine in CT. I’m in Bogota now, and I hear there may be some march for the freedom of the rest; If so, I’ll be there not to cheer on Uribe, nor to demean the FARC, but to demand the freedom of the rest. Various numbers point to between 2,800 and over 3,300 still behind held in the jungles by all armed actors. It is ludicrous, unbelievable and painful to know. Hopefully they are freed YA, but it seems like that may not be the case, at least with the FARC hostages. Who knows, for now I’m going to keep celebrating a tiny, huge, important and elating victory in a big war.

  9. Lou Says:


    See you on the other side ;-)

  10. Chris Says:

    I guess part of the conspiracy also included screwing over 2 x life-long FARC soldiers, Cesar (1st Front Commander) and his confidant, both of whom stand a good chance of being extradited to the U.S.

  11. Steve Says:

    I have to admit that the idea of the guerrillas not flinching at the idea of loading their precious hostages onto a helicopter seems to strongly suggest some kind of third party mediation not yet mentioned by the GOC or the press. Estadounidense cynicism admitted, this is an even more interesting idea after watching the nauseatingly bizarre and drawn out military back patting session hosted (in the Geraldo Rivera sense) by Uribe on TV late last night. I mean I understand that the event is laden with even cultural importance within Colombia, but I really feel like Uribe has already well wrung out the political capital of the rescue of a mere 15 people. Where´s the “Mission Accomplished!” banner, anyways?

  12. jcg Says:

    Jaime Bustos: Unless it was a ransom paid to specific FARC individuals, not to the organization as a whole, I’d find that possibility even harder to believe than the official explanation, considering FARC has insisted so publicly in certain special conditions (DMZ, etc.) that wouldn’t really mix well with ransom payments in this case, at least not without some additional explanations. And again, this hurts their PR, not the other way other.

  13. jcg Says:

    Steve: Then, to name just one detail, why would FARC allow Uribe such a good PR move that makes them lose face?

    Unless this means we will see a DMZ of some sort, and even then…it’s harder to believe, IMHO.

    It’s obvious Uribe is exploiting this for his own purposes, and that probably factored in as far as the schedule is concerned, but that doesn’t necessarily explain everything else.

  14. Jesus Reyes Says:

    This was simply another unilateral prisoner release by FARC, after FARC was called upon by Chávez to release prisoners and following a FARC’s track record of unconditional prisoner releases earlier this year, which was hijacked by the Colombian Military

    The Colombian military swooped in and fabricated it into a rescue operation. The complicit western media, especially CNN, is reporting that the prisoner release today was actually a rescue by the Colombia military.

    The only storm clouds threatening an otherwise bright political horizon appear to be emanating from the prize itself.

    One hope is that Ingrid herself, like some of the hostages that were freed in rounds of negotiation through Chavez, might provide some perspective in the days to come

    Betancourt has announced that she still hopes to serve her country as president.

  15. Steve Says:

    jcg: I have to admit that would be a weakness in the theory. To entertain the debate though, perhaps the Swiss and/or French offered the FARC humanitarian-medical assistance for the secuestrados while telling the GOC that the providing of said humanitarian-medical assistance could not involve the firing of weapons. Seeing how things actually played out, the GOC would then have followed the terms set by the Swiss and/or French and the Swiss and/or French would not have lied to the FARC, allowing the Swiss and/or French to maintain their “neutrality” in the issue, a la WWII banking strategies.

    I´m no conspiracy theorist generally, but it´s just very odd that this flawless operation occurs immediately after the Swiss and French made contact with Cano (who probably feels a bit dissed at this point, should my theory prove correct).

  16. Chris Says:

    This is the detailed account by CNN…

  17. jwillie Says:

    for a non-conspiratorial perspective on what happened, see . The author, Harvard educated and former special forces, ranks among the best commentators on military affairs.

    I would also note that the change in strategy and tactics in Colombia closely parallels the change in same of US forces in Iraq, especially in regards to the focus on protecting the citizenry, with the inevitable resulting improvement of intelligence gathering which greatly facilitates the capture or elimination of insurgent leadership. Simply put, the counter insurgency manual and leadership philosophies of General Petraus seem to have also been employed to a large extent by Uribe and his military/intelligence leaders, perhaps with the aid of some US military communications technologies.

  18. Chris Says:

    Analysis from El Tiempo… gives a variety of opinions.

  19. Steve Says:

    I like the Ocean´s 13-style retelling of the event by CNN, just like Uribe and Team described last night but in English.

  20. jwillie Says:

    another credible terrorism expert reports that his sources say: “The operation took more than three years to develop. The penetration of the rebel rank over time provided much of the human intelligence that was vitally needed. The infiltrators worked their way up the ranks, until they had access to both the force that protected the hostages and the FARC’s general secretariat. The reports of the undercover operatives were wedded, with U.S. help, to signal intelligence, and the combination of the two fed off each other.”

    See for more details.

  21. Chris Says:

    So many new commenters here…. keep them coming. I like reading the diversity.

  22. Chris Says:

    Obama Comment on Rescue:

    “I join with the families and the American people in celebrating the wonderful news that these three American citizens – Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell – have been released from the terrorist organization that held them hostage for so many years, along with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and eleven other Colombian hostages. We look forward to their speedy reunion with their loved ones, who have suffered so much through this ordeal.

    “I strongly support Colombia’s steady strategy of making no concessions to the FARC, and its targeted use of intelligence, military, law enforcement, diplomatic, and political power to achieve important victories against terrorism. I congratulate President Uribe and the Colombian government, express my gratitude for everyone who aided in this rescue, and will do everything that I can to assure the success of future efforts to free the FARC’s hostages and to defeat this terrorist organization.”

  23. MZR Says:

    It’s a fascinating theory that this was actually a hostage release and not a rescue. I am not a conspiracy theorist but some things just don’t seem to add up. The capture of FARC soldiers (I am hearing mixed reports that a number were captured and, conversely, that none were captured!), however, doesn’t necessarily mean the theory is dead. Captured soldiers could, for example, be deserters who are further aiding the Colombian government. They could have been thought to be deserters by the FARC and handed over as part of an exchange. Who knows? The list is endless and is complete speculation. JCG is right – time will tell. The other strange thing is the helicopter. It was a military helicopter and the FARC were fooled into thinking it was a civilian helicopter because it was “painted white”? What type of helicopter was it? I have not yet ascertained this. And with the FARC’s ultra-paranoia of absolutely anything, it is this aspect which seems somewhat strange to me.

    Anyway, I’m still not sold on the conspiracy theory but it is certainly interesting.

  24. Chris Says:

    MI-17 (Russian made)

  25. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Conspiracies are more common than what the psyop mass media hammered in meaning has led us to think.

    When your fiancee is planning to leave you because of a wealthier bloke, or your wive gracefully plots to file for divorce in order to take half of your assets, they are conspiring against you. When your boss considers you are doing a great job but you are outperforming everyone, even him, and sets up a plan to get you out of the way for fear you might put him down, he is conspiring against you.

    Even the most famous conspiracy theory is that some cavemen with box cutters were able to kidnap four commercial planes in order to make the world tremble, in the infamous 9-11 attacks.

    In this case, GOC is trying to sell the story about a conspiracy of the Colombian intelligence against the FARC. Tying loose ends and coming up with another version, is automatically referred to as conspiracy theory, just as mind control puppeteers expect sheeple to claim, in order to ridicule arguments that could set them up against the wall.

  26. MZR Says:

    Chris: source please (regarding the Mi-17).


  27. Chris Says:

    It’s the only helicopter in their inventory that can carry that many people and still pass as an NGO/Humanitarian helicopter…(the other is the Blackhawk, which is clearly a govt helicopter given that Colombia is like the only country in the region w/Blackhawks).

    Plus, I spent a year with their Army SF and they used them all the time…

    However, I’ll see if I can get a definitive answer.

  28. Chris Says:

    I found some video of it…but it’s from CNN (the mother of all govt propoganda units) :-)

  29. equinoXio » » Jaque… ¿El caballo de Troya? Says:

    [...] de inteligencia militar que logró infiltrarse en el frente primero para llevarse, sin disparar una sola bala, a los quince rehenes. Operación “perfecta” según las declaraciones de [...]

  30. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Chris, the only news I heard yesterday were on the radio, and clearly talked about two blackhawks being used for the rescue operation. What’s GOC’s version?

  31. MZR Says:

    Thanks Chris.

    Although, how do we know that this helicopter was the same helicopter that picked them up? If they had a guerrilla on-board (as has been stated) where was he? Still on board? Did they go direct from the jungle to the press conference?

    To be fair, if it was an Mi-17 picking the hostages up then this is definitely feasible (that the guerrillas would think it was an NGO helicopter).

  32. MZR Says:

    Actually, I also heard “Black Hawks” were used but assumed this was simply a mistake (which it may well have been). This helicopter issue is still perplexing me.

  33. Jaime Bustos Says:

    WTF? CNN appears not to be able to air a decent video of any major event involving the military.

    This one seems like a little babe panda had chewed on the film for hours. :lol:

  34. Block Says:

    Just one note re: conspiracies. . .

    Any person who has seen the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination must admit that the official government story about the assassination (still to this day maintaining that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman) has to admit the existence of high-level conspiracies.

    Reading academic works about these conspiracies, especially the JFK episode, shows exactly how high level these conspirations go (i.e. demonstrating links between the mafia, the CIA, the FBI, the Army, Texas oil, and even Lyndon Johnson).

    Finally, when you consider that such a high level conspiracy to murder the leader of the “Free World” occurred almost 50 years ago, the cover-up of which is *still maintaines*, you have to wonder how much more sophistated the conspiracies of today would be.

    JCG, referring to your original response to me, I would have to say that I am, almost by default, a believer in many conspiracies.

  35. AR Says:

    I agree with Jaime in that there is a lot of make-believe in this operation. The GOC has openly told of its surveillance of FARC-mediators communications during previous operations (remember Emmanuel case?). The GOC and the military have eagerly sought every opportunity to intervene in the hostage releases seeking to embarrass the FARC and cut any chances for them other than unconditional surrender. That is OK if there is little cost for the peace of Colombia, but I doubt that is the case. As happy as I am for the released hostages, is more than clear to me that Uribe will charge the country a very high price for this “intelligence” success.

    Were IB timely remarks on the appropriateness of reelection for free? I just think there are too many coincidences in the timing and events of this story which are favorable to Uribe’s quest to remain in power.

    While the americans were taken straight to Hospital and home for recovery the colombian hostages were taken straight to Uribe’s talk show. Does not sound humanitarian, does it?

    BTW, whose blood stained IB pants in this bloodless operation?

  36. Chris Says:

    The press conference was held in Tolemeida (spelling ?), and that’s too far for any helicopter to travel w/out re-fueling (the rescue occurred in el Guaviare Department).

    They most likely stopped in San Jose del Guaviare and then boarded a plane to Tolemeida. At San Jose is where they would have jettisoned the 2 x prisoners (seperated from the group).

    I don’t have sources for the latter…but I’ll look for them.

  37. Block Says:

    Sorry, should have said:

    “has to admit that the official government story about the assassination. . . is at best a cover-up and at worst a bald-faced lie.”

  38. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Hey Block, nice to see I am not the only one around.

    I don’t even think men went to the moon, after carefully reviewing all the evidence to the contrary. Nonetheless when I tell friends about this, they sigh and think I am joking. :mrgreen:

  39. Chris Says:

    REMEMBER THE MAINE!!!! (Spanish-American War 1898)

    That’s an incident now proven to have been a govt conspiracy theory… but I don’t give credence to many others.

    The problem with conspiracy theories is that they give the govts WAY TOO MUCH credit. I work for the US govt. We have enough problems ordering printer paper, let alone formulating elaborate plans to fool our own society and the rest of the world. Plus, potential effects of any conspiracy being discovered by the public makes many of these schemes not worth while.

  40. MZR Says:

    Thanks Chris.

    The fact that they stopped to re-fuel, etc, certainly opens up the possibility that they changed aircraft.

  41. Chris Says:

    CNN obtained the footage from a third party (i.e. some local news media in Colombia)… so that was a colombian baby panda.

  42. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Chris, then why you think the 09-11 official conspiracy theory was so easily rebutted. The videos CNN, Fox News, CBS and others showed us of planes hitting the towers, were proven to be low quality CGI products composed by incompetent dorks. Not to mention some of hijackers shown on tv were traced down, alive and well.

  43. jcg Says:

    MZR: Then again…the only captured FARC personnel, that we know of, are supposed to be the two guys on the helicopter, by all accounts I’ve seen.

    Those two individuals may be deserters in their own right, I don’t know and won’t say they definitely aren’t…we haven’t seen them yet, which presents a potential problem, but they are allegedly going to be shown to the press later on. Will that happen or will those actually be the guys in question? We’ll see.

    Also, who else did you hear about? Haven’t heard any reports, unless they referred to the FARC unit remaining on the ground, about “no prisoners” being taken at all.

    As for the helicopter, the official story is that they’re Russian models, which are also employed by Venezuela, by the Colombian Military (in small numbers) and by some civilian transport companies in Colombia, IIRC. How were the guerrillas convinced? Depends, but we don’t know, if that’s what happened.

    So those are all good question, but we can’t really answer most yet.

    Jaime Bustos: Then let me ask you this: would you say that the guerrillas, Chávez and the rest don’t ever, ever resort to psyops or just plain propaganda and PR of their own, by pushing or at least magnifying and exaggerating any conspiracies, regardless of whether there’s some truth to them or not? Or, to go that far, do you think they cannot resort to elaborating conspiracies of their own?

    Unless those are the exclusive privilege and monopoly of the Empire, Uribe, Dracula Satan down in Hell, I think your own point of view might as well contemplate that for a moment.

    Again, I prefer to be accused of lacking faith in most conspiracies, whether on the right or on the left, including real ones before they are proven, than of the opposite: believing in too many just because of circumstantial analysis and mind games of Russian roulette.

  44. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jcg, you pose as an impartial and fair person. Nonetheless, I don’t know why, you already judged me a left winger in love with Chavez.

    I tell you what I could not care less about Chavez, aside from the fact that he irritates the fascist , and keeps the balance even.

    Of course all the governments are involved in sheeple manipulation, of course man.

    It’s only that some have taken this art to a level that is soooooo evident, that people like me, can’t but laught.

  45. jcg Says:

    AR: That supposes that FARC was finally, finally going to be kind enough to release their most politically valuable hostages “IF ONLY THE GOVERNMENT HADN’T INTERVENED”, after so many years and fruitless labors, when they’ve been adamant about only making a few humanitarian gestures and were still demanding a DMZ at the end of the last one.

    “Were IB timely remarks on the appropriateness of reelection for free? I just think there are too many coincidences in the timing and events of this story which are favorable to Uribe’s quest to remain in power.”

    So IB is also a part of the Evil Imperial Conspiracy, I suppose….sigh.

    “While the americans were taken straight to Hospital and home for recovery the colombian hostages were taken straight to Uribe’s talk show. Does not sound humanitarian, does it?”

    Well, what about Chavez’s own version of the same talk show with his own freed hostages?

    I also felt that was excessive, both times, but it’s hardly something new.

    And curiously, I’ve been hearing others saying the opposite: that letting the hostages meet with their families, beyond just the talk show angle, is more humane (not “humanitarian”) than taking them straight to de-briefing and hospitals. But I guess it depends on who you ask.

    And IMHO, what matters is what the hostages think. If some of them are angry and some of them are glad and couldn’t care less, it’s their own choice.

    “BTW, whose blood stained IB pants in this bloodless operation?”

    Good question, actually. There were apparently no shots inside the aircraft, that we know of, and from what she said, it may be that there was a bit of bloodshed while one of the guerrillas was being reduced. Does that mean that guerrilla was killed or merely wounded? Conspiracy theorists already have chosen option A, as I’m typing this, but I’d wait.

  46. MZR Says:

    JCG: A friend had actually told me that more than 2 were captured. I cannot find anything to back this up. I think “two prisoners” is the actual number. Although, when I heard Ms Bentancourt talk after she was released, she only seemed to mention one prisoner. There is obviously a lot more information needed which will hopefully materialise in the coming week. But, I wouldn’t put anything past the Colombian government in terms of bending the truth (or, gasp, lying!) to gain political capital (just as I wouldn’t put it past the FARC to do the same).

  47. Chris Says:

    There are 2 good interviews occurring at this time…the first w/ Ingrid and the second with General Montoya.

  48. jcg Says:

    Jaime: I’m hardly impartial, because I do have my own ideas and preferences which I can’t really ignore, but I do try to be fair. Not always, that’s impossible, but at least I sometimes try.

    I was asking the question because I don’t see you talking about that other kind of conspiracy, but only about right-wing ones. Again, I could care less about both, until proven otherwise.

    I’m not exactly going on and on about the alleged “300″ business and what not, or do you see me talking about that kind of thing?

    Don’t see how that translates to my calling you a “Chavez lover”.

    I did, however, interpret your criticism of Ingrid in the other post as a sign of incoming left-wing demonization of Ingrid beginning to creep around, that I will admit, in such a specific respect. She was being demonized by the right-wing as a guerrilla lover not that long ago too, if you may recall…and now she’s apparently Uribe’s co-conspirator, if I read some indications right.

  49. jcg Says:

    Chris: Where’s Ingrid’s interview?

    I noticed the one with Montoya, who is now showing the two alleged guerrillas, “Cesar” and the other guy “Gafas”, IIRC, as I speak.

  50. Jaime Bustos Says:


    I was really astounded at the declarations by Mrs. Betancourt, because by what I’ve read and the proposals she had made, it looked to me as if she was a social conscious politician, and what she said just struck me as an empty speech from just another politician aspiring for power.

    Politicians are despicable to my taste per se, but flipflopping ones are just unbearable.

  51. jcg Says:

    As I type, rather.

  52. Chris Says:

    That’s against Geneva Conventions…parading them like that. COG shouldn’t do that.

  53. jcg Says:

    “Cesar” not answering any questions or even speaking, but his face seems to be somewhat wounded, btw. Maybe that explains the blood?

    “Gafas” seems to be in better health but is also silent.

    Frankly, this is a bit of media circus too, but if those are indeed the guys (and if they aren’t, I’d expect some of the hostages to speak up), then that provides some more information.

  54. Chris Says:

    They replaced Ingrids interview with the showing of these prisoners.

  55. jcg Says:

    Chris: Just showing them in public may not be a problem, but I’d understand if having them confronted by the media like that would, in fact, constitute a violation.

  56. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Word is that yesterday Bogota drivers were honking their horns with wide open smiles. They deserve this media show, taking into consideration they are the featuring clowns.

  57. jcg Says:

    Well, where was the interview? Seems the prisoners are already out of sight.

  58. Chris Says: Live was showing the Ingrid interview via Caracol, but then switched to the prisoners. Ingrid was apparently hosting an international news conference regarding the situation. I don’t see it anymore so she must have finished the conference. Sorry.

  59. jcg Says:

    Jaime Bustos: Well, I believe I provided my own opinion of Mrs. Betancourt’s positions in the other post.

    I don’t believe anything she said runs against being socially conscious, or at least not necessarily.

    If, however, she doesn’t have socially conscious proposals when she participates in an electoral race, and there is some indication she may really be serious about them, I’d begin to see your point.

  60. AR Says:


    It seems to me you struggle to appear fair, rational and objective. Although you also seem to believe you are the one who decides what is the fair, the rational and the objective. Those absolutes are like religion, only exist in the hearts of people ( weren´t you the one who talked about “good” and “bad” levels of discussion a couple of days ago? ).

    No theory is inherently good or bad or a “conspiracy”. A qualified philosopher or scientist would tell you that no hypotheses, no matter how ugly or complicated, should be discarded without checking its internal coherence and testing against facts. However you seem to think you can manage on the basis of what you read or watch on the media or some authority’s statement (correctness is not a matter of authority either), or do you really have access to direct tests of any of the theories discussed. See, I am definitely not playing the “absolute truth” judge here, I just tell my interpretation .

    I do not have a theory “conspiracy” or otherwise about what happened yesterday, why should I?. I just do not buy the fairy tale the GOC is selling, and consider things have been manipulated to show them in a way that benefits Uribe at the proper time. Time, btw will not tell much as had been the case in Colombia’s recent history (remember Gaitán, Galán, Jaime Garzón, …). The GOC clearly relied on some kind of arrangement with the guerrillas which was obviously not sincere. Who made the arrangements for the hoaxed hostage transfer to Cano or the humanitarian operation? I have no idea, but I do not think the GOC convinced some guerrillas to get the hostages on a helicopter just like that. From those two options that have been mentioned I find rather strange that of the helicopter transfer to Cano. How often do FARC hostages transfer campsites by helicopter? Remember what IB said about the usual reaction of hostages to helicopters? (On a different matter, I do not see IB comments on reelection as part of a “conspiracy”, just found them unnecessary for the occasion).

    As you point out -YOUR words, not mine-, (a no-hoax scenario means) that FARC was finally, finally going to be kind enough to release their most politically valuable hostages. I do not lament the GOC had intervened, I lament on the whole thing being presented as a success of democratic security = Uribe’s 3rd term campaign. Any vague theory that comes to my mind at the moment implies the FARC have been severely humiliated (though not yet defeated), and the only door open is unconditional surrender. This would complete the GOC fairy tale, but my feeling is that the cost for the peace of Colombia could be very high, taking into account they no longer have the high profile hostages. I do not care about the FARC’s reputation, if that is what concerns you, I do care about having a Colombian government based on legality and ending the conflict without more hostages and dead.

  61. jcg Says:

    AR: “Although you also seem to believe you are the one who decides what is the fair, the rational and the objective.”

    Thanks for putting words in my mouth but…where did you get that idea?

    “Those absolutes are like religion, only exist in the hearts of people ( weren´t you the one who talked about “good” and “bad” levels of discussion a couple of days ago? ).”

    If I am allowed to say so…I have tried to be relatively careful about absolutes here, and have tried to leave quite a bit of room open for debate in several of my statements.

    “See, I am definitely not playing the “absolute truth” judge here, I just tell my interpretation .”

    Well, alright…but then how is that different from what I or anyone else may say?

    “Time, btw will not tell much as had been the case in Colombia’s recent history (remember Gaitán, Galán, Jaime Garzón, …). ”

    Actually, those three cases are very different from each other (by far, Gaitan’s is the worst case where time hasn’t provided enough clarity yet), but I don’t want to go into an off-topic tangent.

    Yet there are also other cases where, in fact, it’s clearer that time has in fact brought forth at least more clarity, if you care to look for them (say, the Palace of Justice, for instance, or even Galan’s now that you mention it).

    “The GOC clearly relied on some kind of arrangement with the guerrillas which was obviously not sincere.”

    From your interpretation, and that of others, I can respect that as a valid opinion.

    But it does not mean it is “clear” to everyone else, and I personally disagree, for reasons already mentioned.

    ” I have no idea, but I do not think the GOC convinced some guerrillas to get the hostages on a helicopter just like that.”

    Evidently, it’s not going to be “just like that”, even from the government’s official story, if you care to look at the details.

    “From those two options that have been mentioned I find rather strange that of the helicopter transfer to Cano. How often do FARC hostages transfer campsites by helicopter? Remember what IB said about the usual reaction of hostages to helicopters? ”

    First, how else did you expect the hostages to react and, second, who said this was supposed to be an “regular” transfer? I haven’t really seen any indication of this being an “usual” procedure, but that isn’t necessary.

    And well…what kind of “liberation” would include personnel with Che Guevera T-shirts who IB (incorrectly, obviously) identified as guerrillas, from their attitude and words, once they got out of the aircraft?

    “As you point out -YOUR words, not mine-, (a no-hoax scenario means) that FARC was finally, finally going to be kind enough to release their most politically valuable hostages. . ”

    This is a bit funny…that wasn’t what I meant, you know.

    I included that phrase precisely because I find it very difficult to believe, even from a “no-hoax” perspective, considering FARC’s behavior and their actual communiques, including the last one where they said no more liberations were forthcoming.

    In other words, I don’t think FARC was trying to do that, even if they might try to claim so (hey, it’s not like they can’t lie or haven’t lied before, as you imply regarding the Col. government). I did, however, get the impression that you were arguing this, and apparently that is the case.

    “I do not lament the GOC had intervened, I lament on the whole thing being presented as a success of democratic security = Uribe’s 3rd term campaign”

    It’s being exploited for that potential purpose, no doubt, but that isn’t how I’d put it, as my other statements would show.

    “Any vague theory that comes to my mind at the moment implies the FARC have been severely humiliated (though not yet defeated), and the only door open is unconditional surrender. This would complete the GOC fairy tale, but my feeling is that the cost for the peace of Colombia could be very high, taking into account they no longer have the high profile hostages.”

    While the government’s story may still have inconsistencies, unknowns or actual lies, and you have the right to have your own theories…I think it’s very far from being a “fairy tale” if proper attention is paid to the details already available. That description seems a bit hollow, at least to me.

    And can it really be said for sure what effect this has for the “cost of peace of Colombia”, whether in the short or longer term? I certainly don’t know, but I don’t really think peace was necessarily in a better position before, all things considered.

    “I do not care about the FARC’s reputation, if that is what concerns you, I do care about having a Colombian government based on legality and ending the conflict without more hostages and dead.”"

    I could essentially say the same thing, even though from a different point of view.

  62. Randy Paul Says:

    Silence from Camilla. She must bummed by the facts that led to the title of your post.

  63. Chris Says:


    Everything you say is all fine and dandy, but the burden of proof is on you… you’re the one challenging what is accepted as the truth by the MAJORITY.

    And as of right now… the conspiracy theory you and others insinuate does not convince me.

    Give me more facts…. not just suppositions.

  64. AR Says:

    I am not putting words in you mouth, I am assuming your words on a literal meaning. You are the one who claims able to divide levels of discussion between “good” and “bad”, label hypotheses as conspiracies or otherwise and keep asking people for evidences or flawless theories. I guess, unless you are are an intelligence or govt. agent or something like that, you like most of us, are here just making CONJECTURES.

    We may perhaps discuss the plausibility of some explanations or bits of them in this forum, interpret them, analyze the news, say we agree, have a feeling, like them or not, and that is about it.
    Playing the truth seeker on the basis of press reports, communiques and second hand info. is rather pedantic, or better scholastic. I think it would be sensible of you to recognize that.

    But I am not in this forum seeking to make the theories that please you. I do believe (just believe is all I can say) the story of this rescue has been fabricated by the GOC for the purposes of reelection campaign (not to mention legitimation of Uribe´s current presidency). Have heard ideas like those Steve and Jesús Reyes commented early on and feel inclined -on the basis of the second hand info available to me- that what happened was sth in the middle (i.e. stealing someone else’s operation, perhaps what had transpired about negotiations with Cano), which would make the chopper fit into the picture. Of course, even if we believe the GOC, any plausible theory for this rescue is a conspiracy.

    Well, good night.

  65. AR Says:

    Well just one more thing now I see Chris’ comment. I cited Steve and Jesús’ and have heard of many others -not here- unconvinced with the official explanation, I am not the only one here who doubts the official version, there are ground for that and I simply want to point them out.

    “Truths” are not made by majority, that is not a democratic matter. We can prove nothing on this forum, so the burden you mention are just part of the pedantic game of the truth seekers. However we can discuss the plausibility of some proposals and that is what I am doing.

  66. Jaime Bustos Says:

    The Assassinated Press

    Lights! Camera! Action! Uribe, RNC, McCain Campaign Strike Deal with FARC,Stage Hostage Release.
    Administration, McCain Campaign Will Not Discuss Quid Pro Quo of Mini-October Surprise.

  67. Global Voices Online » Colombia: Íngrid Betancourt and Other Hostages Rescued Says:

    [...] Isacson, from Plan Colombia and Beyond, writes about the “anti-FARC strategies” that have and have not worked: [W]hat has worked over the past few [...]

  68. Jaime Bustos Says:

    2O.OOO.OOO.OOO US dollars 8-O For that amount of money I’d let them beat me to a pulp !

    Alias Cesar got 20.000 million for turning in hostages

  69. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Ingrid Betancourt: a liberation purchased by the USA?

  70. Chris Says:

    Same news site says that Padilla negates the charges that any $$$ was paid.

    And that whole bit about the contractors connected to the FBI is a new one…

  71. jcg Says:

    AR: It seems I haven’t made myself understood or you are just not understanding. Either way, there’s little I can add to what I mentioned previously.

    Jaime: I was wondering what you would say, when I first heard that this morning and, surely enough, as expected…

    What do I think? The claim alone doesn’t convince me, sorry, but I am willing to contemplate that possibility if any actual evidence is presented.

    Yet there are some curious bits…it is claimed that the U.S.A. is at the “origin” of the transaction, which while a bit ambiguous, means that it either paid or arranged for the payment. It is also claimed that Switzerland, France and Spain would be willing to give new identities to the two guerrillas involved, which would mean they have been informed of this part of the arrangement, at the very least. Either way, that places a lot of the responsibility outside of Colombia and Uribe, or doesn’t it?

    It is also claimed the three contractors were working for the FBI as “loans” to the DEA. If anything, you’d normally expect the CIA, not the FBI, to do such things, if you notice the difference in their roles (external vs. internal). I find this doubtful, but it’s a detail which could become more important later on, whether it’s right (confirming the story) or wrong (reducing its credibility).

    Then there is the issue of “Cesar” allegedly being paid and what it would actually mean. Even if that were the case, you’d have to recognize that the situation wasn’t just a matter of “paying and forgetting”, but required: a)contacting “Cesar”, convincing him and arranging things in such a way that FARC’s superiors or the nearby troops wouldn’t interfere. b)getting all the hostages to one place, when they were in three different groups. c)coming up with a relatively complicated cover story around which everything would be framed.

    So forgive me if I don’t jump ahead and immediately say “yes, this new story is the absolute truth”.

  72. Chris Says:

    About the re-arrest of a an AUC member responsible for the death of a UP Leader…

  73. Jaime Bustos Says:

    I am sorry I cannot enter the discussion until I stop being moderated upon :-(

  74. jcg Says:

    Jaime: You mean some of your posts aren’t showing up? Try to change some of the words, terms or phrases.

  75. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Check this out pal!

    Ingrid Betancourt: a liberation purchased by the USA?

  76. AR Says:

    How curious to hear the ransom hypothesis presented that way on wradio. Actually, my first chance to learn about the “rescue” was in a room where other people were listening to wradio breaking news about the report (app. 4 pm COL). Then and there I heard the story told as a frustrated hostage transfer to a foreign country by intercepting the original mission and changing the helicopters. A few hours later the story had suddenly changed to become the official “infiltration” version, 100% Colombian, but for some “minor” participation of US intelligence. Today, El Tiempo also mentions an alleged Israeli participation.

    I heard however about 20 million ransom not 20.000 million, so Jaime’s figure needs to be corrected.

    Apparently some do not see the issue is just being used as a justification to keep fueling the colombian military and as a promotion of military “rescue” attempts vs. opportunities for dialogue. If that does not constitute a clear risk for the peace of the country I wonder what does.

    JCG: If you think I have not understood your words, you are probably not saying what yo mean. Through this forum we debate and exchange ideas, but hardly establishin the truth. No one can prove a thing here, with the resources we have. Besides, truths do not necessarily have to be what convinces you. I just find your sceptic questioning like a purely scholastic and pretentious debate-game, I am not enthusiastic to play.

  77. jcg Says:

    AR: I’m quite sure I do know what I mean, thank you. Regardless of whatever you want to attribute to my participation in this blog, which is purely your opinion. But I’ll keep presenting my opinions and you can obviously continue to do the same with yours. The rest is up to each person’s interpretations. I’ll leave it at that.

  78. Jacob Says:

    Interesting and recent report about FARC,…the new “must” for any reporter these days: spend a couple of days with FARC in a jungle camp.(Since Reye’s death at least three such reports).

  79. Chris Says:

    The day they extradite the 2 x guerrillas I am going to hold some of you to task for your conspiracy theory, which talks about France and Spain hiding them and what not…

    And then I am going to sit and read how you story changes, and entertain myself with your latest conspiracies. Sometimes some of you sound so silly.

    “Apparently some do not see the issue is just being used as a justification to keep fueling the colombian military and as a promotion of military “rescue” attempts vs. opportunities for dialogue. If that does not constitute a clear risk for the peace of the country I wonder what does.”

    AR, I do see that….it’s actually quite obvious to me, but it’s not being done under the guise of your conspiracy theory. Quite simply, events happened as they have been portrayed, and this time around the Colombian govt succeeded, so they and their allies are using this opportunity to play up their strategies.

  80. AR Says:

    JCG: Nice!. I am participating here to debate interpretations, challenge established or accepted versions pointing out at their their inconsistencies and hear other views, not to establish truths (or otherwise). I think one should be aware of the scope of this forum to propose the debate, requesting people for “irrefutable” alternative theories or “facts” to disprove someone’s beliefs in this space is just plain out of place.

  81. Lyonel Says:

    What is all this silliness about? Yes, there was some cloak and dagger going on (how do you pull off something this neatly without it?). So I accept that the Americans shared intelligence and trained the Colombians very well (remember “Killing Pablo”), but the idea that this was all part of some nefarious, clandestine, conspiracy is nuts. At most a couple of FARC capos sold out and helped set things up, but this was too big a blow for the FARC to (even secretely) endorse it. They are so damaged by this, that they look ready for extinction.

    Uribe looks more vindicated than ever. The challenge for Leftists is not to oppose him at every turn, but to hold him to his word when he says he wants to negotiate peacefully with a minimum of bloodshed. The FARC members who will remain after desertions, will probably be as hard-core a group as ever. They are no small shakes, or as they say “no hay enemigo pequeño.” Uribe would be wise to find someone who is genuinely neutral (as opposed to Hugo Chavez) whom the FARC would be believe would not gain credibility be allowing the slaughter of rebels or soldiers. We need an honest broker.

  82. Santiago Garcia Says:

    Welp, I guess Íngrid is in on that vast right-wing conspiracy.

  83. Jaime Bustos Says:

    TV reporters at the staged rescue scene, before they smacked FARC member

  84. Jaime Bustos Says:

    TV reporters at staged rescue scene, before they smacked FARC member

  85. Kyle Says:

    Jamie, you ever think of the possibility that since the people were acting as if they were FARC and an international mission, that this guy was acting as a journalist? In the past, Telesur journalists traveled to pick up other hostages. Do not get tricked so easily like Cesar did. If anything, this is pretty solid evidence, if not the smoking gun, that the story provided by the Army is true. If you note, you say “reporters” plural, there was only one person with a camera I saw. Secondly, just because Caracol has the video does not mean a journalist filmed it. Thirdly, it was probably part of the show. The FARC did not stop the filming, and in the past Telesur went for other missions. It is not necessarily something weird for that FARC front. Really, this is basically proof of what happened; you are assuming a lot and with little evidence…

  86. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Kaliman, caracol tv to be precise. At least , the one holding the camera, the one holding the microphone. I did not suggest the guerrilla cordon was fake, that probably was realized by a stray ion charge zapping through your brain.

    I am ok that you people are gullible. I REALLY don’t care. Most people are.

  87. Chris Says:


    I have heard some Colombian analysts compare Uribe to Simon Bolivar in leadership and duty to country!

  88. Camilla Says:

    Uribe is a magnificent man, blessed by heaven and heading there one day, too.

    My favorite thing about the hostage rescue was how FARC was fooled by Che t-shirts. What does that say about any moron who would wear one? How does it feel to be recognizable as a FARC familiar? Che t-shirts are a detail so gross they could fool FARC!

  89. Camilla Says:

    I’m with Jaime, I wish they would have shown the beating of Cesar with his famous shiner. It would have been so satisfying.

    I guess we will have to content ourselves with the supermax after this. Cesar can join the paramilitary thugs and they can all be miserable together.

  90. Camilla Says:

    I don’t believe the story about the $20 million bribe – Defense Minister Santos said they had already offered FARC $100 million and they turned it down – why would FARC cut its price at this point?

    Since it came out of Switzerland, where a lot of FARC symp romanticisers live, I think it was one of them who spread the lie. Whoever it was was probably brokenhearted at the rescue and the glory and laurels for the ages it rains down on the great President Uribe. Like a 9/11 Troofer, he or she couldn’t take it, and had to make up something tawdry to make it look like a much shabbier affair and to blame Uribe, just as the Troofers blame Bush. It’s the only way they can make sense of things like war and victory where they can’t support the good guys.

  91. Kyle Says:

    Jaime: “TV reporters at staged rescue scene, before they smacked FARC member.” So you are saying you did not suggest it was fake, but “staged”. Enlighten me with the difference. Also, because of the nature of the rescue, we do not know if he was an actual TV reporter. You can call me gullible, but you are the one who is so sure about what you think despite a complete lack of solid evidence. Only circumstance and possible motivations and analyses, none of which are solid, but just possibilities. Like Camilla who has no evidence about who came up with the story of the $20 million bribe, but still says it and, possibly, believes it. But it is just an idea based on an analysis, little fact and possible motivations. But hey, I’m gullible, with solid evidence, but gullible…apparently.

  92. equinoXio » » Un ejército de película Says:

    [...] inteligencia internacional, bombardeos quirúrgicos, recompensas y montajes humanitarios se emplean al lado de las grandes operaciones armadas convencionales. Aprenden rápido los militares [...]

  93. jcg Says:

    To throw out a completely unconfirmed and of unknown validity rumor I just came across on the radio, during the “Hora 20″ debate program (in which foreign journalists participated, as they do most Fridays)…there is apparently a claim that the source for the 20 million dollar story was an assistant (?) to the Swiss delegate who was recently in Colombia.

    Absolutely no evidence of this claim was presented, nor was any source mentioned, and I cannot say I believe it, but if anyone heard that radio program, or if you can access it through the archive on Caracol’s website, you can try and confirm the mention of this rumor, as I’m not making this up.

    This may just be a counter-story, used as misinformation, or not, but I feel it’s better to mention than to ignore it.

  94. AR Says:

    “El ministro de Defensa, Juan Manuel Santos, reconoció que la divulgación de la versión de los contactos de Francia y Suiza y las Farc fue un distractor.” . Day two, first correction of the official “truth”.

    On the other hand, the bribe allegations are being elaborated into really funny versions (e.g. taking the 20 million to Colombia was McCain’s part of the job).

    Chris, I do not have any conspiracy theory of my own, I clearly wrote that. I do not need to create a conspiracy or demonstrate anything to point out at inconsistencies on the official versions of the conspiracy. JMS just said that the international contacts with Cano were make-believe reports, will that be enough or shall we wait for more? I think JMS has a record of make believe accomplishments.

  95. Kyle Says:

    AR: I don’t think that this news changes much about what actually happened; it was just another part of the plan. But this is bad news. Why? Because the FARC are not going to accept another international delegation at all, because of lack of trust or because of distractions. Since the government cannot rescue everyone in the jungle, these delegations are key for any success at more people being liberated. This is very, very bad news, but I do not think it changes what happened. To me, it was just another part of the plan.

  96. AR Says:

    Kyle, completely agree on that being bad news. Btw, did you see/read/heard yesterday’s press conference with french minister Kouchner and Araújo? Kouchner said those swiss-french contacts with Cano did indeed happen, and (can´t remeber the exact words) hostages rescue was the result of them, period (refused to tell details). I just do not see the issue as an irrelevant change to the official version. JMS record plus the strange bits and pieces of the story made me wonder how much of that is accurate. I do not trust the GOC version but that is just my personal view.

  97. Santiago Garcia Says:

    20 million? That’s cheap. Chávez paid 300 million and didn’t get squat.

  98. Santiago Garcia Says:

    Oh shit, the Vast Imperial Conspiracy is getting even vaster. Guess they got to the FARC as well.

  99. Camilla Says:

    I voiced an opinion, Kyle, based on what’s thus far known. I’m making no absolute statement. You have your opinion and i have mine. It’s natural to think of what might be going on when some strange thing like a swiss ransom claim comes up.

    The broad fact is, the Swiss are appeasers, and they are also known as a farc nesting ground. farc has a lot of friends in that country.

    There’s been a bid by the swiss to make themselves look like these great peace negotiators in this debacle. They want to claim they are all disinterested and only concerned with freeing ingrid, but in reality, they are self-interested players and their acts reflect their vision of south america as a great place for romantic guerrillas, where they place all their utopian dreams of how the world should be. It’s unrealistic and their actions reflect their disordered moral view of the world.

    They thought appeasement was a good idea, their desperate desire for glory in it got them nothing, all the world can now see that it took President Uribe to free the hostages and now with them free, the Swiss will be twiddling their thumbs, and irrelevant and out of the picture.

    No longer can they pressure colombia to give up some piece of its democracy by rewarding terrorism and boosting farc just because of the hostages. They are just another country now, not a moral authority based on their advocacy of appeasement. Ooh, and Colombia’s competence in this whole thing must have stung! It’s bad enough being naturally jealous of the americans, but to see colombia, america’s protege, top them too in hostage rescue must be painful.

    In the midst of all this, is it surprising that some idiot out of switzerland came up with this ransom claim? I don’t know who it was any more than you do, but I do know the moral disorder these people operated in and why it could come out of a jealous place like that.

    If it was a tawdry ransom, which is something europeans love to do, and are constantly getting caught doing, then it makes colombia no better than they are. it makes colombia the same appeasers they are. It almost was personification because they themselves are the types who pay ransoms.

    Daniel in Venezuela says it’s just like the small minded dolts who denied the moon landing in 1969 and said it was just staged in some place in New Jersey.

    Europe is going to have a hard time accepting colombia’s success, which so reminds them of their own failure.

  100. Camilla Says:

    Here is the link to Daniel’s piece:

  101. Kyle Says:

    Camilla, you never fail to amaze me.
    AR: I trust the GOC version as of right now (minus the whole media show with the chains, because, if you notice, in the video, the hostages are not wearing chains, or at least, I did not see any). What I don’t get is if it was a montaje, and all fake and set up. Why would the two FARC commanders accept some sort of deal that gave them no judicial benefits whatsoever? They are not living abroad, nor getting reduced sentences, nor are going in submitting themselves to the Justicia y Paz process. So what did they get out of it? That’s the piece for me that does not add up. One of my friends said of course they would not say if the guerrillas got judicial benefits. I think they would as to promote the idea that ANY guerrilla who demobilizes and brings a kidnap victim would actually get that reduced sentence. So if a deal was struck, or the thing was a fake and the GOC/FARC agreed to the whole show, what did the commanders get out of it?

  102. jcg Says:

    Actually, that there were two international delegates here in Colombia, who recently met a representative of Cano, isn’t a lie.

    The French ambassador himself confirmed it yesterday on RCN’s “La Noche” . He said the French and Swiss delegates met with a representative of Alfonso Cano, with the authorization of the Colombian government, but that nothing came out of it in terms of agreements or liberations.

    That Juan Manuel Santos intentionally leaked this event misleadingly, apparently after the fact, to the press and media to facilitate the operation is something else, unless you want to argue that the French ambassador is lying too, and on national TV even.

    Yesterday’s “La Noche” should eventually be here, I can’t see the video right now, but it should be there (as program 77?) whenever the page is properly updated with yesterday’s content (which I can hardly force):

    I wonder if AR notices these details. The headline he links to says that the “divulgación”, the leak, was intentional, certainly, and the delegates didn’t meet with Cano but with a representative. Not that the entire meeting per se was a lie.

    France had previously denied meeting with Cano himself, but yesterday the French ambassador cleared things up, admitting the meeting with a representative and the presence of the delegates. Notice the difference.

  103. Chris Says:

    They only chained them up at night, from what I understand. Since it was day time and they were traveling they wouldn’t have been chained up (it’s hard to walk through the jungle as it is…imagined being chained up and walking through the jungle…. doesn’t lend to quick movements).

  104. jcg Says:

    Finally found a more direct link to the French ambassador’s interview on “La Noche”. The text below highlights the main points, which coincide with what I said above.

    En La Noche…polémica por operación “jaque”

    Fecha de última actualización : 2008-07-04 23:22:37

    Bogotá, Colombia (RCN) – El embajador de Francia en Colombia, Jean Michael Marlaud, dijo enfáticamente que la misión de los emisarios suizo y francés, no tuvo nada que ver con la operación “jaque”. Además dijo que su Gobierno cree en la transparencia del operativo y confirmó por primera vez que los emisarios europeos lograron contactos con las Farc.

    En contraste diputados chavistas y medios de comunicación señalaron que la operación “jaque” fue una farsa, unos aseguran que hubo un pago de 20 millones de dólares y otros que supuestamente las Fuerzas Militares se le adelantaron a los acercamientos que se estaban dando entre las Farc y Francia.

    La Noche contactó a uno de ellos, a Narciso Isa Conde quien dijo, “Había una voluntad ya de las Farc y la había expresado ya a principios de año y a fin del año pasado y se concretó también la entrega de algunos de los detenidos, había una voluntad de las Farc de proceder al canje”, aseguró.

    Entre aquí para opinar en los foros de actualidad de Nuestra Tele

  105. Chris Says:

    My favorite part of the whole video is the point when the helicopter is lifting off and you see like 30-40 rebels, fully armed, unaware of what’s happening at the moment. It seems surreal…

  106. Chris Says:


  107. jcg Says:

    Since my previous post is apparently awaiting moderation, here’s the link with less text. Again, this confirms what I wrote above.

    En La Noche…polémica por operación “jaque”

    Fecha de última actualización : 2008-07-04 23:22:37

    Bogotá, Colombia (RCN) – El embajador de Francia en Colombia, Jean Michael Marlaud, dijo enfáticamente que la misión de los emisarios suizo y francés, no tuvo nada que ver con la operación “jaque”. Además dijo que su Gobierno cree en la transparencia del operativo y confirmó por primera vez que los emisarios europeos lograron contactos con las Farc.

  108. jcg Says:

    Last post for a while, and just in case: Apparently, after clicking on the link, it is necessary to still go to the “Nacional” section and click on “En La Noche…polémica por operación “jaque””, because of the way the webpage is designed.

  109. Santiago Garcia Says:

    Oh boy, that Isa Conde guy is a real piece of work.

  110. MZR Says:

    Actually, Camilla, I’ve had a thought based on your comments about the Che t-shirts fooling the FARC. We could produce a reversible t-shirt for NGO workers: one side with “Che”, in case any NGO member bumps into the FARC while in the jungle, and one side with Uribe, just in case they run into a paramilitary death squad. Now, wait a minute, Camilla: I know you’re about to tell me that the FARC are much more easier to fool than the intelligent, upstanding, witty, empathetic, Uribe supporting paramilitaries, but I’m quite sure the t-shirt would be useful.

    Also, I was thinking that we could use your quote for the Uribe side of the T-shirt: “Uribe is a magnificent man, blessed by heaven and heading there one day, too.” But even the paramilitaries would be rolling around the floor laughing at that one. Moreover, it would certainly raise suspicion and endanger the lives of the NGO workers. So, maybe we could change the t-shirt slogan to:

    “Uribe is a magnificent man, who has sent many to heaven and will send many more there before his time is up.” Also, maybe we could use a picture of Uribe and Bush together with halos? And maybe a few splatters of blood, just to give the “Bush/Uribe effect”?

    Maybe we could even make a tidy profit too? And don’t worry about workers pay and conditions: even if any of our pesky workers dare to form a trade union (the commie “b*stards!), we can give Uribe a call and ask him to denounce these “commies” as FARC sympathisers during a speech or TV interview. That way, the paramilitaries will simply deal with these “Communist” uprisings and FARC sympathisers without any input from us. If this fails, hopefully Uribe will give us some contact numbers for the paramilitaries so we can contact them directly.

    What do you think? Sound like a plan or what?!

  111. Jaime Bustos Says:

    MZR: LMFAO! :lol:


    “So if a deal was struck, or the thing was a fake and the GOC/FARC agreed to the whole show, what did the commanders get out of it?”

    You nailed it good boy! ;-)

    Yesterday before going to sleep, I hit upon the idea: FARC was faking it too. It’s the only way that things add up. As to what the commanders got out of it, we may never exactly know. We’ve DUPED both ways kids!

  112. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Anybody remembers a recent news piece about the GOC army having seen the three american spies bathing in the Inirida river? (BTW I was not able to find any trace of this news either in Le tiempo, El espectador or Semana)

    It seems that the conspiracy theory turned out to be a conspiracy fact.

  113. Paul Says:

    Obviously, MZR didn’t take kindly to Camilla’s insult of both Che and the FARC.

  114. Kyle Says:

    My point Jaime was that it makes no sense for two commanders to strike a deal for a fake rescue and then get nothing out of it for themselves; not even one slice of a judicial benefit, nor living outside the country, nor any money for themselves (at least for now). Jaime, this was not a conspiracy theory, I read it in El Espectador. I have a pdf file archived of it if you want it as proof.

  115. Kyle Says:

    Jaime, i think Adam may have put the story up online; maybe in a friday links or something.

  116. MZR Says:

    Paul, I assume from your other posts that you think Uribe is a saint too. Nonetheless, are you insinuating that I am a FARC supporter? Hang on a minute, Paul. I see a trend here. If I criticise the Colombian government, this, to you, means I am a member of the FARC! I MUST be a FARC symathiser because I critisiced the Colombian government!!! I must be a communist! I must be evil, evil, evil!!! “Burn him”, I can hear Paul scream, “he must be a guerrilla!”

    Who do you think you are Paul? Alvaro Uribe? Please, Paul, don’t insult our intelligence. I am also critical of the FARC, just as I am the government and the paras. But, that probably won’t do for you. I criticised the government, so I must be a FARC sympathiser. And guess what, Paul? And this is going to really upset you. Are you sitting down, Paul? Are you ready for this Paul? I’M A MEMBER OF A TRADE UNION! (I can just picture Paul now, screaming at his computer “MZR, you red, commie b*astard!!”) Your attitude is typical of the problems in Colombia. I propose a different point of view, which makes me a FARC sympathiser. Shame on you, Paul.

    “What’s that?”, I hear Paul say as he is drinking a nice cup of coffee from his Alvaro Uribe mug, “MZR didn’t criticise Chavez?! He’s a commie!”

    Also, Paul, (and I don’t want to upset you too much here) but… Here we go: I don’t own a Che t-shirt. Crazy I know. A critic of the Colombian government, a person who doesn’t criticise Chavez at every possible opportunity, and a member of a trade union who doesn’t own a Che t-shirt?!?!?! What gives?! I hope I haven’t freaked you out too much, Paul.

    Paul, please don’t insinuate that people are FARC sympathisers simply because they criticise the Colombian government. As you should well know, Paul, in Colombia such an accusation can be very dangerous for the accused “FARC sympathiser”, regardless of the actual facts. By the same logic, I could insinuate that you are a paramilitary supported simply because you think Uribe is some kind of political saint. Not very nice is it Paul? Shame on you.

  117. Kyle Says:

    MZR: Big assumption from short sentence…

  118. MZR Says:

    Kyle, are you telling me that the comment “Obviously, MZR didn’t take kindly to Camilla’s insult of both Che and the FARC” doesn’t insinuate that I don’t take kindly to FARC criticism (or left-wing criticism in general)? Therefore, if I find it difficult to take criticism of the FARC then doesn’t this imply that I am a supporter of the FARC? Seems like quite a reasonable assumption to make.

  119. Jaime Bustos Says:

    MZR, take it easy, four you info: Paul = Camilla = Mary Katiushka O’Grady, a character that bears incredible resemblance to say, Maria Isabel Rueda.

    BTW, Where do they sell Che Guevara T-Shirts, I would like to buy one, I think it would be quaint!

  120. Camilla Says:

    Odds are you already own a closetful of them, JB.

  121. Camilla Says:

    MZR: I totally don’t understand the point of your post. The reality is, the hardcore left, including FARC, just love Che tshirts. What that ought to do is give nominally democratic leftists pause as to just who it is they are glorifying. If FARC loves Che tshirts, maybe they should reconsider their own love for them and recognize the romanticized Argentine mercenary for the mass murderer he was. It makes perfect sense for FARC to feel good about Che tshirts. They do the same stuff Che did. It makes no sense for people who claim to be democratic and civilized to want anything to do with a Che tshirt. Che enjoyed summary executions and did a lot of them. Just like FARC.

  122. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Hey Paul!

    How about trading Che t-shirts for Uribe mugs and wallpapers and bush pencils and panties?

    Who knows, in the future those bric-a-brac may acquire some value just as dinosaur bones today.

    What ya think? :mrgreen:

  123. MZR Says:

    Camilla, I never understand the point of any of your posts.

    “The reality is, the hardcore left, including FARC, just love Che tshirts.” Another sweeping generalisation from Camilla that has no relevance whatsoever. I assume you’ve launched a survey amongst the “hardcore left” and the FARC to ascertain how much these people “just love” Che t-shirts? Maybe this can be part of a peace deal, Camilla? Or part of a hostage exchange deal? I can see the newspaper headlines now: “As part of the hostage exchange, the FARC asked for the reestablishment of a DMZ, the release of its prisoners from Colombian jails and 25,000 Che t-shirts in a variety of colours”. I can’t quite understand why you are so fixated with this “Che t-shirt” argument. It’s quite irrelevant, hence the comical tone of my earlier post. This was part of the “point” of my earlier post, as well as to highlight that, to many people, Uribe isn’t the saint that you think he is.

    Camilla, you sound like an advertisment for the ultra right-wing, hardcore media. I still cannot take your posts seriously given that I’m sure you’re a WUM.

    “What that ought to do is give nominally democratic leftists pause as to just who it is they are glorifying.” That’s rich coming from someone who is glorifying Alvaro Uribe and proclaiming a place for him in heaven!

    Jaime Bustos: I know, you’re right. But it was a idiotic thing for Paul to say, thus a response was needed.

  124. Camilla Says:

    MZR: What’s a WUM?

  125. Jaime Bustos Says:

    WUM: short for wombat ha ha ha ROFL

    serious now, go to! :mrgreen:

    OK, ok, he he, well it’s an acronym for ‘wind-up merchant’.

  126. Jaime Bustos Says:

    People in Bogota, be careful:,21985,23976726-5005961,00.html

    From correspondents in Bogota

    July 06, 2008 02:34am

    COLOMBIA found explosives set to be used in bombs across the capital in reprisal for this week’s rescue of leftist rebels’ highest-profile hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt, military officials said.

    The army seized about a tonne of explosives at a farm outside Bogota that it suspected the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, planned to use in attacks over the next few days, said the officials, who asked not to be named.

  127. Tambopaxi Says:

    …Seeing the video of the boarding sequence of the hostages, you can see at least 10-12 FARC guys surrounding the helicopter. No one knows what happened to them after the helicopter took off, but if there was any way to determine that there were no hostages left behind, and I were in the FAC command, I would have leveled the place with airstrikes immediately after lift-off…

    I only thing I can figure, Camilla is that MZR suspects that you’re a web utilization miner (see wikipedia) which is a kind of program keyed to track web users on certain subjects; kind of like a cookie, or perhaps, spyware, as far as I can tell…. Bet you hadn’t thought of yourself as a web program :)

  128. Jacob Says:

    Why was my link deleted, moderated ?
    Ok I’ll say just go to the TIME website interesting report especially now after the rescue op, it’s called “Among the FARC’s true believers”, worth to watch.

  129. Jacob Says:

    srry worth watching rather.

  130. AR Says:

    Well, it is rather hard to make sensible comments when so many parts of the story keep unfolding. I would call that a soap rather than a Spielberg movie, which goes better with the “100% colombian” claim.

    Anyhow, the more episodes the less difficult is to fit all the puzzle pieces -all elements taken from official statements and mainstream press-: (1) the FARC front was allegedly tricked into transferring the most precious hostages to Cano`s campsite, in order to negotiate the humanitarian exchange (JMS to El Tiempo). (2) A very unusual helicopter transfer was suggested and accepted by the front commander. The trip would be facilitated by an international organization (JMS) “habían logrado hacer un extraordinario contacto con una organización humanitaria de uno de los países europeos amigos” -fake ‘Mono Jojoy message-. (unidentified military source to El Tiempo) (3) such unusual move should be done without confirmation with Cano or ‘Mono Jojoy’ and in absolute secrecy to avoid detection (JMS) besides ‘César’ “Con ‘Cano’ nunca se comunicaba” (JMS) (4) ‘César’ set off the mission by the 3rd week of June.


    At about the same time Uribe, reveals a story about a guerrilla member who offered to free IB in exchange for a non-extradition deal with the GOC.

    Well, I wonder what sort of European organization would accept to provide a helicopter lift -secret, and apparently illegal too- to FARC guerrillas with hostages, somewhere in the middle of a territory surveilled by all sorts of local and foreign military with sophisticated detection devices? How could a guerrilla commander be convinced that an organization would do that and the trip would go unnoticed? , Why the rush organizing the trip if nothing concrete about the humanitarian exchange had transpired? Did the guerilla guy from Uribe´s story have sth to do with that? Why should he worry about being extradited to the US if it was about IB liberation (or was there something else on the deal)? Such a guerrilla gay should have had quite a lot of power to be able to make that offer, I guess.

    Some other odd bits:
    At the same time ‘Operación Jaque’ was going on, by all accounts, independent contacts of Frech and Swiss delegates with Cano were authorized by the GOC. These would take place somewhere remote in the Colombian mountains. Later on officials from the French, Colombian and Swiss govts were emphatic on that these contacts had nothing to do with the operation.
    How could this sort of thing be authorized to happen without putting at risk the lives of the international delegates? Wouldn’t it be considerate of the GOC to keep those govts. updated about rescue attempts of that magnitude?. Apparently Sarkozy did not know a word. What about the delegates?
    Furthermore, JMS said that the swiss facilitator had to explain why he was mentioned on Raúl Reyes’ files. Did JMS just learn that or did he prefer to keep the mouth shut not expressing any concerns to authorize such a facilitator?

    In conclusion: as crystal clear as it is to me that the hostages have returned home because of a brave action carried out by the GOC and the military, I remain unconvinced this was a “perfect operation” without any international law and HR violations. As this particular rescue is to become the platform to support further Plan Colombia actions, clean Uribe´s wrongdoings and launch his third presidential campaign, I still insist the means to that “rescue” should be further clarified.

  131. AR Says:

    JCG, (on your comments 102, 104) I insist, I am not here to establish the “lies” or the “truths”. How could you establish the lies or the truths on the issues treated here ? by quoting statements, internet links or videos on a blog?. I have said this, but it seems you have somehow decided I am lying.

    I think rather one can examine such elements to check consistency and formulate an opinion on reliability, which is different.

    I commented on what Kouchner said at the 2nd July press conference in Bogotá “the (french) contacts with Alfonso Cano did happen”. and JMS’ statement “la divulgación de la versión de los contactos de Francia y Suiza y las Farc fue un distractor”. I`ve never written “the contacts did not happen” as an interpretation of JMS sentence. I have been though, reflecting on whether they had sth to do with the operation.

    On your quote: “That Juan Manuel Santos intentionally leaked this event misleadingly, apparently after the fact, to the press and media to facilitate the operation is something else, unless you want to argue that the French ambassador is lying too, and on national TV even.”
    How can you say all that? The news on these contacts were broadcasted by César Velasquez as an official GOC communique and quoted by the national press. See e.g. link . I am afraid leak is not appropriate word for that, and in any case, the press quote does not seem to reflect any responsibility or intention by JMS on it.

    On the other hand, the swiss ambassador has said “La reciente misión de los dos emisarios con el objetivo de reestablecer el contacto con las FARC, con la autorización del Gobierno colombiano se desarrolló de manera totalmente independiente de la operación “Jaque” que tuvo como resultado la liberación de 15 secuestrados. El hecho de que coincidieron en el tiempo es pura casualidad.” . The GOC has said something equivalent as well. I do not see how these statements are consistent with yours: “leaked this event misleadingly, apparently after the fact “. Maybe you can write your arguments or quote your sources.

    In summary, JCG, taking (substitute here by the authority of your choice) word as “the truth”, and “demonstrating” truths using quotes as evidence is a matter of scholastic not rational discussion.

  132. Two days after Ingrid’s rescue, U.S. 747 Cargo Plane down « Relatos Comúnes Says:

    [...] have not hurt his popularity. Talk about “teflon presidents”! Though some have written of how the operation did not involve a single bullet, and how these types of operations should [...]

  133. jcg Says:

    AR: I wasn’t really taking that as the “absolute truth”, but the point needed to be made somehow because it appeared you were denying the existence of the meeting. If that wasn’t what you meant, then fine, but that’s how it looked like at the time, period.

    That was just how JMS himself put it on TV when asked during the last press conference (the one where the video footage showed up). He mentioned that the news was leaked by the GOC -I assume he meant that communique- and even appeared to take credit, but perhaps that was just a way of speaking and shouldn’t be taken literally. I can accept that easily enough.

    And my main point, again, was that the meeting did took place, in some form, even if it was exploited by JMS and GOC for their own purposes.

    The French ambassador himself said that the meeting had already taken place, when interviewed by RCN, making the leak after the fact. The full interview isn’t online, or at least it wasn’t when I last checked, but I already linked to a webpage proving its existence.

    So I do have sources, just that they’re harder to quote for obvious reasons.

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