Mounting questions about Colombian hostage operation

Dandelion Salad

By Bill Van Auken
7 July 2008

As right-wing politicians on three continents basked in the reflected glory of an ostensibly brilliant July 2 rescue of hostages held by Colombia’s FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) guerrillas, doubts have surfaced as to the real character of this operation.

The freeing of Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian citizen and former presidential candidate, three US military “contractors” employed by the Northrop Grumman corporation and 11 other hostages has been exploited to refurbish the Bush administration’s discredited Latin American policy, to make a hero out of Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president implicated in drug trafficking and paramilitary massacres, and to boost the sagging popularity of France’s right-wing president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Even Senator John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, who staged a visit to Colombia (a fortuitous coincidence?) the day before the hostage release, got in on the act. While in Colombia, he received a briefing from Uribe, enabling him to associate himself with the upcoming operation.

There is virtually nothing to distinguish McCain from his Democratic opponent on the question of Colombia. Senator Barack Obama issued his own statement hailing the operation, calling the FARC a “terrorist organization” and affirming his support for the Colombian government “making no concessions” to the guerrillas. Nonetheless, if Uribe could do any favors politically, it would no doubt be to the Republicans, after six years as the Bush administration’s closest ally in Latin America.


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