Tag: diplomacy

FARC Says No To Betancourt, France To Go Home

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

According to Bloomberg, FARC has now said that it will not allow France’s medical mission to treat its most famous hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, whom it has held hostage for more than six years:

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“If President Uribe had withdrawn troops from Pradera and Florida for 45 days at the beginning of the year, Ingrid Betancourt, military officials and jailed guerrillas would have been freed,”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.

News Of A Kidnapping

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


Ingrid Betancourt In Captivity (11/30/07)

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.

Please join me in the selva.

An insight on US strategic thinking – why so much cowering fear?

Earlier last week, I wrote a diary (What the west means and what roles NATO plays therein) that used a recent Financial Times editorial as a springboard for a discussion on what the “West” was, and what the use of NATO was – questions that  left-of-center Europeans tend to see quite differently from most Americans, including left-of-center ones.

The editorial, by a well-respected British pundit, was insightful and interesting, and led me to conclude what many on the European Tribune have long suspected: that NATO is simply an instrument for Europe to support US strategic priorities, and that the “West” exists only when Europe (and in particular France) aligns itself unconditionally on US positions. The UK, as per that senior British commentator, has as its main role that of disrupting and dividing Europe when it is insufficiently respectful of US interests.

Since I’m French, you may be tempted to conclude that this is just sour grapes by a citizen of a supposedly declining country; however, what I found more interesting in that article was the dominant tone of fear – about the west being under siege, and needing security against various threats – in the form of coordinated military power and little else. It was a narrow, downcast, closed vision of the world, with little about values, progress or hope.

The comment thread is worth reading too, and one of the last comments, by Loefing, pointed me to another article on the same topic, this time by a graduate of the US Naval War College, Tony Corn. The article, (The Revolution in Transatlantic Affairs, has the same dominant tone of fear, but a much more detailed examination of the world. Given the credentials of its author, it is likely to have serious influence on the thinking of the strategists in the Pentagon, and it is thus worth deconstructing.

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