Thursday, July 03, 2008

Colombia Hostages Freed; End of FARC Near

I never thought I'd get to write this post.

Finally, the FARC, Colombia's leftist insurgent group, showed signs of its eminent demise with the release of 15 hostages, including 3 Americans and Colombian Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The Colombian government infiltrated the rebel group and seized their most valued hostages with no gunfire and all have returned home safely.

This is a day that most Colombians never imagined would come. We've seen too much in the cartel years and the guerillas dashed all our hopes when they took to killing hostages during negotiations. Even after yesterday's release, the FARC still has over 700 hostages and one has to wonder what sort of desperate, deadly maneuvering those animals are going to come up with.

For me, however, this is a lesson in the power of government, cross-border cooperation, and the will of the people. For years Colombians have been standing up to the FARC, denouncing their tactics, calling for their end - the climax of this being an international manifestation of solidarity for peace and a call for the release of all hostages in Colombia in February of this year. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, the days of FARC rule are now numbered.

Of course, this didn't happen on its own as the U.S. has been Colombia's biggest ally in the fight against the FARC and France has lent financial and spiritual support to the cause as well. In fact, the movement for hostage release in Colombia was especially strong in France, which is where I first came to learn about Ingrid Betancourt during my semester abroad in 2001.

But you know me, I still gotta hate....

The importance of the hostage release has been felt around the world - except by Telemundo and Univision, the only national Spanish-language channels in the U.S. with correspondents all over Latin America, who decided to keep their regular programming of a novela called "Without Breasts there is no Paradise," and "Don Francisco Presenta," instead of providing live coverage of the events in Colombia and the 10pm address by President Uribe welcoming the hostages back to society. The address included a chat between the President and Ingrid.

It's shameful that these two outlets continue to fail the public when it comes to covering major world events. This is one of the most important stories in Latin American history and the only Latin American channels in the U.S. sat on the story.


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