cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Colombia’s biggest rebel group refused to allow a French-led medical mission to help former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a dual citizen held captive more than six years.
“The French medical mission isn’t appropriate and much less so when it’s not the result of an agreement,” the leadership of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in the statement posted today on the Web site of Venezuela’s Agencia Bolivariana de Prensa.
The FARC said the French made no contact with them to negotiate sending doctors to help Betancourt, a French-Colombian citizen who is suffering from hepatitis B, and reiterated its demand that the government pull troops from two towns in western Colombia to swap about 40 high-profile captives, including Betancourt, for 500 jailed guerrillas. The French mission will leave Colombia, Efe cited the French foreign ministry as saying.
“If President Uribe had withdrawn troops from Pradera and Florida for 45 days at the beginning of the year, Ingrid Betancourt, military officials and jailed guerrillas would have been freed,” the FARC statement said.
The FARC statement is here (Bloomberg’s link is wrong). And, obviously, freeing Betancourt and other hostages is something FARC also rejects.
Pardon me. This is barbarian. FARC has not given an adequate, humanitarian answer to concerns about Betancourt and its other hostages. Its denial of access shows that it persists in using civilian hostages in its attempts to further its political goals. That is disgraceful. It is simply a human rights violation.
Betancourt, and the hundreds of other, less well known hostages should be released. They should not be permitted to continue to be pawns in FARC’s four decade long struggle with corrupt Colombian governments. Yes, the Colombian governments are awful. Yes, they are the US puppets in the region. But, FARC’s refusal to permit the medical mission to reach Betancourt is unexcusable.
And what, you might wonder, is anyone in the US or Europe or anywhere else going to do about this? Answer: nothing. To the contrary, the US is going to reward Colombia. The US is going to give Colombia a free trade agreement even though it kills unionists, even though its paramilitaries participate in the cocaine industry, even though it has ceded huge amounts of land to FARC, even though it receives billions of dollars in “insurgency” aid, even though its “drug war” has impoverished peasants, even though it is powerless to control its own territory. And the EU? Nothing. And France? Its mission is finished:
“Keeping the medical mission in place is no longer justifiable,” the French said in a statement released by the ministry, according to Efe.
This is simply disgraceful.