Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Inside Story of the Ingrid Betancourt Rescue

For China Matters the Ingrid Betancourt story had everything: an official line that smelled fishy from Day One; a thrilling narrative chock-a-block with colorful personalities and amazing developments; conflicting stakeholders—and versions of events—coming out of Colombia, Venezuela, France, Switzerland, and the United States; credulous, stenographic reporting by the U.S. press; and a convoluted geopolitical context.

Best of all, nobody else cared a tinker’s damn about the tale.

The media could have worked American readers into a lather about the rescue of Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves, and Thomas Howes—three American contractors who had spent six long years in the Colombian jungle as prisoners of the leftist FARC insurgents (in contrast, how long did the U.S. embassy hostages provide the wind beneath Ted Koppel’s ratings wings in 1979-81? a mere 444 days).

Nevertheless, the Bush administration soft-pedaled the American aspect (and extensive American assistance) so that the operation could be presented as “the Betancourt rescue”: an unalloyed triumph for America’s steadfast ally in Latin America, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.

So the story was mineminemine.

The only thing it didn’t have was a China angle.

I wrote about it anyway.

I’ve posted the piece, Betrayal and Liberation, on a dedicated website: Betancourt--The Inside Story.

Short version of a long story: the Colombian government probably arranged the release of Ingrid Betancourt, three American hostages, and several other captives with the assistance of two FARC traitors. The brilliant rescue on July 2, 2008 was a cover story.

The most interesting angle on the story: that the Colombian government deliberately sabotaged a release negotiated by the Europeans four months earlier, in order to package the freeing of the hostages as a victory for Colombia’s uncompromising anti-FARC strategy—instead of the fruits of a deal arranged between FARC, Colombian leftists, the Europeans, and Hugo Chavez with Colombia stewing resentfully on the sidelines.

The Colombians intercepted satellite phone calls between the top FARC negotiator, Raul Reyes, and the Europeans and used the intel to obliterate Reyes’ camp in Ecaudor in a provocative cross-border air raid that risked a regional war between Ecuador and Venezuela and Colombia—while scuppering the impending release of Betancourt and the other hostages.

Here’s an excerpt:

FARC had enjoyed the status of a quasi-legitimate belligerent from Venezuela and Ecuador. As long as FARC used the border regions near Colombia for rest and resupply and not as a base for armed operations, its presence was apparently tolerated by the two socialist regimes over the objections of the Colombian government.

The real reason why the Colombian government chose March 1, 2008 to plaster the camp, provoke an international incident with Ecuador, and raise the specter of a hot war with Venezuela (which undoubtedly feared a similar incursion against the Venezuelan camp of FARC commander Ivan Marquez and was primed to respond) is open to conjecture.

When the attack is placed in the context of the ongoing negotiations concerning the captive release—and Colombia’s own stated willingness to support them—the Colombian military incursion seems strikingly cavalier and ill-timed.

After all, the international negotiation track had recently borne fruit, with the high-profile release of Luis Eladio Perez and two other captives through Venezuelan intercession. Killing FARC’s chief hostage negotiator—and lurching toward war with Venezuela, FARC’s only trusted interlocutor—put a stop to it.

When Colombia announced that Reyes had been killed, the French government expressed its displeasure. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the press that "It’s bad news that the man we were talking to is dead."

The rebel leader was France’s contact in the negotiations for the release of Betancourt, a French-Colombian citizen, which Sarkozy has made a top priority of his government.

Noel Saez confirmed that he and Gontard were in the jungle journeying to Reyes’ camp to engage in the peace negotiations that were taking place under Venezuelan and Ecuadorian mediation and apparently with the approval of the Colombian government.

Gontard and Saez were prepared to meet with Reyes in the next few hours when they received a phone call from the head of Colombia’s ironically named Peace Commission, Luis Carlos Restrepo, warning them to stay away from the camp:

Question:The day when Colombia bombed the camp of 'Raul Reyes', you and Jean-Pierre Gontard received calls from the Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo. He wanted to make sure you were not with Reyes before the bombing?

Saez: I am convinced of that. Uribe knew that if we had met and that Reyes died in the bombing there would be more problems than it was to throw over for violating Ecuador's sovereignty.

As to how close the release was, Saez makes a remarkable claim:

How close was the release of the hostages when Reyes was killed?

It was a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

Hey, read the whole thing!


Dedy Rachman said...

great blog...... God Bless You!!

Kromatografi lapis tipis
Penetapan nitrogn total
Sifat partikel dari radiasi
Ikatan kimia
Hibridisasi Orbital
Jadwal Lengkap Liga Champion 2010-2011Konflik internal Manchester UnitedMenjelang Indonesia Vs UruguayHasil Kualifikasi MotoGP JepangAnda Wajid Nonton TennisKecelakaan MotoGP - Shoya Tomizawa meninggalTragedi Shoya Tomizawa MotoGP MisanoMotoGP San Marino 2010 - Hasil lombaHasil pertandingan - MU 3-0 west HamKlasemen sementara Liga Inggris 2010/2011Drawing Penyisihan Grup Liga ChampionsManchester United Gagal lagiRossi Bersama DucatiHasil Pertandingan MU 3-0 Newcastle

d540291912 said...

Manor style is very popular all over the world in 2011 summer. Do you want to be the fashion star to lead the fashion style in your daily life? Thus come to Pandora Bracelets Canada to find what you love. Pandora Canada online store where is for selling Pandora Jewellery to our customers. Pandora Jewelry contains various types, such as Pandora Bracelets which is the famous star of Pandora accessories; Pandora Charms are also popular among a lot of women; Pandora Beads must be best choice to match your wardrobe.

dsadf said...

ehicles Department spokeswoman Patricia Klinger said this company features due to the fact cleared up the actual warnings plus the scenario seemed to be sealed Cheap Air Max Shoes Corporation spokesperson Alan Jeffers explained there was zero primary association amongst people problems and also the direction failureThe organization previously downplayed statements from state as air jordan clearance well as government authorities of which harm through the pour has been distribute over many mile after mileOhydratesLAUREL, MontIJUANA, The philipines (AP) United states holidaymakers Air Max Shoes on an yearly Come early july Four reef fishing vacation were plunged into your Beach connected with California during the evening after a display storm air jordan shoes upended his or her vessel, killing at least one OughoutOhydrates He / she offered this oyster tasting, saying to Kate "this is where you controlnet Air Jordan assessments this legitimateness of movie star weibos and contains certified this Radiohead weibo since trueAnthony Fast, coverage analyzer while using Natural Means Safety Local authority Air Jordan Cheap or council, mentioned the belief that Exxon Mobil's Silvertip series ended up being apparently throughout submission having federal government guidelines underscores that those guidelines ought Cheap Nike Air Max to be heightened

jimmywang said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas. Keep on blogging because we will benefit from your articles. thx a lot!
Burberry Bags Outlet
Cheap Burberry Bags
Burberry Bags For Sales
Burberry Bags

amily said...

air max 2009 men
air max 95 men
air max 90 men
ugg boots 5815
ugg boots 5825
air jordan 13
air jordan 11

sam danos said...

phone number lookup

Term Paper Writing Services said...

Online law research paper help services are very common nowadays since there are very many students seeking Law Research Writing Services and law essay writing services.

abhijit said...

Movers and Packers in CBD Belapur
Movers and Packers in Ulwe
Movers and Packers in Taloja
Movers and Packers in Bhandup