There have been several recent developments regarding the liberation this week of fifteen hostages from Colombian guerillas. Here are some of them:
- French-Colombian politicians Ingrid Betancourt- one of those freed by Wednesday’s military operation- arrived in France this morning where she was received with a hero’s welcome. “Today I am crying with joy,” said the former presidential candidate who met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and thanked him for his efforts in seeking her freedom. Currently she is at a ceremony with her family in her honor in downtown Paris.
- According to one report the Colombian military created a “fake humanitarian organization…with a special logo and a website”. However, suspicions have been raised over how much help foreign countries like Israel and the U.S. may've provided to the mission. Meanwhile, Swiss public radio claimed that the operation was a hoax in order to cover up a multimillion dollar ransom paid to the FARC.
- U.S. military officials said that the three freed contractors are in “great spirits” as they remain in medical care in Texas. One of them- Keith Stansell- was reunited with his family yesterday while the other two- Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes- are expected to see their loved ones tonight.
- The White House denied speculation that Republican presidential hopeful John McCain was somehow involved in the planning of the operation. “I just think it was a coincidence” said White House press secretary Dana Perino yesterday regarding McCain’s visit to Colombia this week.
- Could the hostage rescue lead to renewed debate in Congress over the Colombia-U.S. free trade deal? Probably not.
- Undoubtedly one of the big winners of the rescue mission is Colombian President Alvaro Uribe who will continue his high popularity among most of his countrymen and could find it hard to resist running again in 2010. (This despite facing serious accusations over alleged bribery of legislators in order to secure his reelection bid).
- Then again, perhaps Ingrid Betancourt could try again for the presidency in two years time. (What an interesting possibility!)
- One media report posits that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was one of the biggest losers due to Wednesday’s mission. Yet it’s still possible that he could renew his role as mediator and possibly help free other hostages like he did in January. (Mind you, as things stand now the odds of that are slim.)
- Could a meeting with Pope Benedict be next on Betancourt’s whirlwind schedule?
Image- Al Jazeera English
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, AFP, CNN, BBC News, The Telegraph, Bloomberg, Ynetnews.com, La Plaza, Narconews, washingtonpost.com