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July 8, 2008

Hostages Held Five Years Finally Free

Three contractors who were on a counter narcotics mission five years ago when they were taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC, have been freed. They were not just handed over by FARC. Instead they were freed by tricking the FARC regime.

The Columbian military freed the three contractors and 12 other hostages including Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate. FARC is thought to have about 750 prisoners that they have been holding for varying amounts of time. Columbia has had great trouble keeping their country in tact because of the drug cartels.

The three contractors were captured after their plane crashed in an isolated area of the country. After five years of being held it must have seemed like freedom would never come but the three men have been freed and they will be home again. While there are still many hostages that need to be freed the fact that these dozen hostages are alive and being returned to their homes is so encouraging.

Ingrid Betancourt was held for six years by FARC rebels. She is a French –Columbian descent and was the most valuable hostage of the FARC. Now that she and the three American hostages have been freed FARC has been dealt a huge blow. The Columbian military has actually taken the only pawn that FARC had to bargain with. Now that Betancourt is no longer a hostage FARC will begin to disintegrate into fragments. Analysts that say Columbian officials should start working to try to move FARC rebels into society. Offers of monetary payments for those that leave FARC have been offered in the past. Now they FARC has lost it’s key hostages, perhaps these offers of money for those that depart FARC may be more enticing

Betancourt will return to France where she will be greeted by her children and many in France that were waiting for their freedom. Betancourt was reportedly said to have been very ill a few months ago and close to death. When the French President Nicolas Sarkozy pleaded for her release the FARC rebels did not respond.

Operation Jacques or check, was a demonstration of how far the Columbian military has infiltrated FARC. A mole that infiltrated FARC was able to get the new top leader to move Betancourt and the other hostages that were freed to a new encampment. The rebels thought that they were going to be given to another group of guerillas but they were really being transported to Columbian government agents.

Ten years ago it looked like the Columbian government was going to be defeated by the FARC rebels. Now the organization looks to be falling apart and the Uribe government has a chance to diffuse the rebels. This successfully rescue, along with the fact the top two leaders of FARC are now dead has changed the landscape for FARC. Now the Uribe government has the ammunition it needs to lay the FARC to rest. It will be interesting to see what happens in coming months and see if the government can crush FARC.

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