BREAKING: Ingrid Betancourt Rescued! (Updated x 2)

(6:15PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

BBC is now reporting:

The Colombian authorities say they have rescued Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans held by rebels in Colombia.

Ms Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician, has been held for more than six years by the rebel Farc group and is said to be in very poor health.

She is the group’s highest-profile hostage and the French government has made securing her release a priority.

The Farc group has been fighting to overthrow the Colombian government for more than 40 years.

The Colombian military said some 15 hostages had been rescued in total on Wednesday, among them 11 Colombian soldiers.

Please join me in Colombia.

You’ll recall that Betancourt was being held by FARC and that FARC refused to allow a French medical team to see her.  You’ll also recall that the French left the country without seeing her.

Now this good news.

The background, there’s this diary:

Ingrid Betancourt, while campaigning for the presidency of Colombia, was kidnapped by FARC on February 23, 2002.  More than six years later, she remains a hostage somewhere in Colombia.  She suffers from hepatitis B and leishmaniasis, a skin disease caused by insect bites.  She is also rumored to be losing the will to live. She is the public face of kidnapping in Colombia.  She is the most famous of hundreds of hostages.  Unlike most of the hostages, she has ties outside the country.

Photobucket Ingrid Betancourt In Captivity in 2007

Ingrid Betancourt, while campaigning for the presidency of Colombia, was kidnapped by FARC on February 23, 2002. More than six years later, she remains a hostage somewhere in Colombia. She suffers from hepatitis B and leishmaniasis, a skin disease caused by insect bites. She is also rumored to be losing the will to live. She is the public face of kidnapping in Colombia. She is the most famous of hundreds of hostages. Unlike most of the hostages, she has ties outside the country.

Colombia has more kidnapping than any other country in the world.  The Colombian Government itself estimates that someone is kidnapped every three hours.  It estimates that every year 11 politicians are kidnapped.  It does not estimate how many hostages there are at this moment, nor does it estimate how many disappearances or deaths there have been.  Colombia, since 9/11, emphasizes that FARC is a “terrorist” organization.  It does not discuss the human toll that Colombia’s US funded military, the billions in US aid for “counterinsurgency,” the “war on drugs,” and its many paramilitaries levy.

Colombia has a long, documented history of mass kidnapping and long term hostage holding.  This apparently began in earnest with the rise of Pablo Escobar and Colombia’s emergence as the hemisphere’s dominant narco trafficker, and it was documented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1997 News of a Kidnapping.  As a New York Times review explained about those kidnappings:

   The object of these kidnappings was plainly to pressure the Government of Colombia, keep it from dispatching Escobar and his fellow drug billionaires to the chains that awaited them in the north. In fact, the drug bosses, as fond of their families as anyone, had been on the receiving end of a few sequestrations themselves, carried out by rebel groups like the M-19. They had dealt with them by forming an organization called Death to Kidnappers and, by a series of ghastly murders and horrendous tortures, discouraged the practice on the part of their enemies. Nor did the dignity of the Colombian state prevent the police from employing extremely arbitrary, brutal and even fatal methods in their treatment of individuals associated with the cocaine industry. Indeed, the suspension of these methods was among Escobar’s demands.

Put another way, the kidnappings Marquez wrote about a decade ago had a plainly discernible, short term, political purpose.  Is the same true of Ingrid Betancourt?  After more than 6 years, apparently it’s not.

Details (4 pm EDT):  The Telegraph reports:

Colombian officials said they had rescued Ms Betancourt, as well as three American military contractors and 11 Colombian police and soldiers hostages, from the Leftist rebels, who had held her prisoner in secret jungle camps since 2002.

Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian defence minister, says nobody was hurt in the operation in eastern Colombia, which saw Colombian army commandos capture rebels who were manning a security ring around the hostages.

They forced the rebels to persuade their comrades to turn over the captives, without any loss of life.

Mr Santos said all the former hostages were in reasonably good health.

And, of course, Betancourt’s son  is absolutely delighted:

The son of Colombian-French hostage Ingrid Betancourt says her release after six years of captivity is “if true, the most beautiful news of my life.”

Colombia’s defense minister says the country’s military has rescued former presidential candidate Betancourt and 14 other hostages from leftist rebels.

Betancourt’s son Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt said on France-Info radio Wednesday that he was “really surprised and happy” but he said he was waiting for more information about the release.

This is wonderful news for Betancourt and the 3 “contractors.”  And now, I also expect it to be played for all it’s worth by McSame who today is in Colombia talking about how great the war on drugs and the proposed CAFTA is.

Updated (9 pm EDT): AP is now providing details of the operation that freed Betancourt.  The details:

Colombian spies tricked leftist rebels into handing over kidnapped presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors Wednesday in a daring helicopter rescue so successful that not a single shot was fired.  snip/

Santos said military intelligence agents infiltrated the guerrilla ranks and led the local commander in charge of the hostages, alias Cesar, to believe they were going to take them to Alfonso Cano, the guerrillas’ supreme leader.

The hostages, who had been divided in three groups, were taken to a rendezvous where two disguised helicopters piloted by Colombian military agents were waiting. Betancourt said her hands and feet were bound, which she called “humiliating.”

The pilots, she said, were posing as members of a relief organization, but “they were dressed like clowns,” wearing Che Guevara shirts, so she assumed they were rebels.

But when they were airborne, she looked behind her and saw Cesar, who had treated her so cruelly for so many years, lying on the floor blindfolded.

“The chief of the operation said, `We’re the national army. You’re free,'” she said. “The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another. We couldn’t believe it.”

To me, this account sounds incredibly weird.  Cesar, the local leader, assembled the hostages so they could be taken to see Alfonso Cano, but then, without firing a shot, Cesar was captured and the hostages were freed by the pilots and others who were to transport them.

And then there’s this:

Santos said Cesar and another rebel on board would face justice. The other rebel captors retreated into the jungle, he said, and the army let them escape “in hopes that they will free the rest of the hostages,” believed to number about 700.

Does this make sense to anyone?  Why do I think– I have no support for this speculation or proof about it– that this release was a fake in some respect?  Am I alone in that?

Update (9:40 pm EDT):  It gets even stranger.  The NY Times is reporting that the US was involved in the operation:

The United States was involved in the planning of the operation and provided ”specific support,” according to the White House. But officials would not describe the nature of that support, or say whether it included military help or intelligence assistance.


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  1. I’ll be anxious to hear more about her health. But I’m sure having this ordeal over is better than just about any news possible for she and those who love her.  

  2. Is it a coincidence that McSame is today in Colombia?

    Thanks for reading.

  3. I didn’t think she was going to make it out alive.

  4. in Colombia today.  And of course, the media is interviewing him, and airing it on CNN, etc about this development.  Oddly, also he’s being asked questions about this wonderful news, rather than about the fact that it’s also being reported today that There’s a shakeup in the McCain campaign.

    But, I’m sure McCain’s presence in Colombia and this happy news re: the release of Ms. Betancourt & 3 American hostages is all just a happy coincidence.

  5. So glad I noted this had been updated.  Agree fully that

    this additional info makes the whole thing sound suspicious.

  6. from Greg Palast on another blog earlier this evening. Its something he wrote back in March when Chavez’ attempts to free the hostages failed. It looks like Bushco and Uribe were up to their eyeballs in lies on that one.

    Palast looks to be a pretty good source on these issues. Maybe we’ll learn more from him in the coming days.

  7. No, IMHO this had CIA stamped all over it from the get go.  

    But then I’m old enough to remember the strange spy vs. spy antics of KGB & CIA during the cold war 😉 when things like spies being stabbed by umbrellas laced with poison and other stranger than fiction stories would surface–stories which we would find totally unbelievable these days…but the people that participated in all the psy-ops, downright bizzare plans,etc aren’t all dead and/or retired just yet.  

  8. seems like it was written by a Hollywood screenwriter.  And McCain was briefed about it by Uribe before the opertion?  What kind of operational security is that by the Columbian government?

    Very pleased about the release though — I don’t want to lose sight of the good result.

  9. the Chicago Tribune today, and it talked about the “heroic” rescue by helicopter, etc. and how Betancourt seemed to be in relatively good health!

    I agree that there is very good cause for suspicion relative Betancourt and others’ release as McCain visited, IMHO.

    We, as I have learned, have done so many dreadful things in relation to Central and South American countries, economically and otherwise, that I hardly know what to believe in anything that pertains to these countries.

    For example, can we be absolutely sure it was, in fact, the FARC that took Betancourt and others hostage for over six years?  And, if so, how do we know it was not at OUR direction?  Or, maybe, it was not the FARC at all, but an operation that took place and was our OWN and was blamed on the FARC?  And now, at a propitious moment, just prior to election, these captives are miraculously rescued in a most heroic feat by the Columbian military or whoever, and released?

    Yes, I think the story is full of holes and sucks!

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