The Real Operation to "Rescue" Ingrid Betancourt and US Mercenaries
by Concerned citizens of irc.indymedia.org
Saturday, Jul. 05, 2008 at 10:48 PM
In order to understand the "rescue operation" of Ingrid Betancourt and the Northrop Grumman Corporation mercenaries who were released with her, it is necessary to piece together articles published in the media, filter the content and out of this is formed a true understanding of the facts of what happened here.
The Real Operation to "Rescue" Ingrid Betancourt and US
Author: Concerned citizens of irc.indymedia.org
In order to understand the "rescue operation" of Ingrid Betancourt
and the Northrop Grumman Corporation mercenaries who were released
it is necessary to piece together articles published in the media,
filter the content and out of this is formed a true understanding of
the facts of what happened
here. A version in Portuguese is available here.
Fidel Castro made one of the most sensible declarations about this situation: the imprisonment of civilians is wrong but what is
worse is that the United States and
the western, capitalist press are exploiting this situation to obscure
and justify the genocidal horrors that they have imposed on Latin
America for hundreds of years, up to
and including this very day.
- On June 3rd, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba
revealed that she
possessed information that the government of Colombia was negotiating
a deal with
FARC to trade money for the release of Betancourt and the mercenaries.
The official policy of the United States
is that they don't
"negotiate with terrorists," even as many leaders of Latin American
countries accuse President Uribe of supporting the AUC paramilitary
death squads and accuse
the United States of providing safe harbor to known terrorists such
as Orlando Bosch
- Careful observers began to question the strange circumstances
under which the "dramatic rescue" of Ingrid Betancourt happened. Some
guys with Che Guevara
t-shirts simply showed up and redirected them into another helicopter?
If it were that easy, why didn't they do that years ago? The French
media also found strange the
fact that Betancourt
didn't resemble the gaunt and hungry images we
have been seeing in the media -- she seemed well-fed and healthy, as
if she were being prepared for release.
- More confusion came when the capitalist media seized this
opportunity to hack up Betancourt's press conference, keeping in the
parts that glorified Uribe and the United
States and excluding the parts that talked about Venezuela's Hugo
Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa and
their important efforts in
finding a diplomatic, peaceful solution
to the crisis. The press conference was broadcast in its entirety on
the Latin American news network, Telesur, but only bit and pieces were
shown on CNN, Fox News and
other northern news channels. For instance, excluded from the edited
version is Betancourt's comments that she felt used by the whole
situation and that the operation put the
lives of the hostages at risk while a diplomatic solution, like the
one pursued by President Chavez, would ensure their safety.
- The capitalist media, without any shame, immediately began to use
the situation to promote their own political objectives: everywhere in
the corporate media,
Uribe was lauded as a hero,
FARC's days are numbered and
Chavez's successful and peaceful diplomacy that freed other
FARC-held prisoners was downplayed.
- However, on Friday, information began to be revealed that, in reality, the
government of Colombia
had secretly paid $20 million USD to FARC in exchange for the release of Betancourt and the US mercenaries, confirming what Senator Cordoba had
said a month before. This story was broken by
MediaPart in France
Radio Suisse Romande.
MediaPart also reported that France and Colombia guaranteed safe
asylum for some members of FARC as part of the deal.
- Dominique Moisi, one of France's most prominent foreign policy
experts, said that it was "probable" that FARC was given money in
exchange for the prisoners.
"They were bought in order to turn them around,
like Mafia chiefs," he said on French state television.
- In light of all these events, the government of
suspended diplomatic relations with Colombia.
- The report of the $20 million pay-off is now
corporate media as it
struggles with a way to
spin this news. The confusion caused
by this bizarre operation makes a lot more sense when viewed as a
pre-arranged, money-for-prisoners exchange. And, the true face of the
Latin American right-wing
is once again exposed.
- It is worth repeating that along with Betancourt, also released
were private military contractors from the United States who were
captured when their surveillance plane
went down in FARC-controlled territory during a Plan Colombia
Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and arms manufacturing firm,
was awarded a $60 million
contract to provide logistical support to the US and Colombian
military, on the ground in war zones there. Between 1990 and 2002,
Northrop Grumman contributed
$8.5 million to federal campaigns. Coincidentally, at least "seven
former officials, consultants or shareholders of Northrop Grumman"
have held posts in the Bush
administration, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
and Lewis Libby (who was convicted on obstruction of justice, two
counts of perjury and making false
statements to federal investigators for his role in illegally "outing"
CIA agent Valerie Plame). In addition,
Plan Colombia has been repeatedly criticized by international
human rights organizations, including
Amnesty International and the
United Nations, for
maintaining close relationships with right-wing death squads,
providing direct assistance to illegal right-wing terrorist organizations as well as
directly and indirectly participating in massacres and atrocities.
Many of the right-wing terrorists operating in Colombia are former members of the Colombian military, like paramilitary commander "Yair," who openly support Plan Colombia and publicly offer their support to Plan Colombia operations.
- Finally, it should be noted that the Colombian government under
Uribe, who has enjoyed widespread celebration by the corporate press
in the last few days, is routinely condemned
as having one of the worst human rights records of any country in the
More than 60 members of President Uribe's congressional coalition are under investigation for election fraud or collaborating with right-wing groups classified as "terrorist organizations" by the United States.
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for labor union organizers, with the world's highest rate of assassinations and
extra-judicial executions of trade unionists. Since Plan Colombia
began, the United States has
provided over $4.7 billion to the government of Colombia, described by
Senator Cordoba as a "democracy that governs through fear and terror."
Senator Cordoba, herself, was
kidnapped by 12 heavily-armed government-affiliated terrorists.
Senator Cordoba says that the operations of Plan Colombia are only partly used to fight the so-called "war on drugs": "It's also used to silence those of us who speak out against
the government. They try to silence us by kidnapping, disappearing and
even killing many of us." Unlike
many other Latin American countries, who overthrew the brutal
US-backed dictatorships which ruled the continent during much of the
20th century, Colombia is an active
reminder of what life used to be like throughout all of South America
-- fiercely repressive dictatorships which terrorize the population
with money and weapons provided by
the United States in exchange for support of U.S. policies. How can a
government like this receive the kind of tributes and
that have been showered on them
by the capitalist press in the last few days since they traded $20
million for the release of Ingrid Betancourt and U.S. mercenaries? How
can a supposedly free and democratic
media uncritically praise a government like this?
Even now, the soldiers of Plan Colombia
right-wing death squads continue murdering union leaders in
continue terrorizing the civilian population of Colombia, and
continue protecting terrorists who
hunt down and kill anyone seeking social justice in the region, a cause that threatens
the profit and power of the dominant, ruling class.
Even when the United States and their Latin American allies attempt to create a spectacle of positive public relations for themselves,
their hands are so bloody and their crimes are so deep that, in the end, their fabrications do little to change the reality on the ground.
Like all dictatorships in human history, their lies are so transparent, their brutality is so brazen and their lifespan is so limited.