Farc hostage release, a political gesture

· Conflict, Politic
Authors

Alan Hara, former governor of the State of Meta, released after seven years kidnapped by Farc. The only way for peace is negotiation, he said. Photo caracol.com

Alan Hara, former governor of the State of Meta, released after seven years kidnapped by Farc. The only way for peace is negotiation, he said. Photo caracol.com

Former governor of Meta released
Farc is not defeated, said Hara
Negotiated solution, only way, said Hara

The former governor of the State of Meta, Alan Jara, was released by Farc, according to the promise of that guerrilla. Jara was kidnapped by Farc on 15th July 2001 when he was inaugurating a bridge in Lejanias town, Meta. He was with some members of the United Nations. He said that he had to cross for days the then demilitarized area of Caguán. Then, he was interviewed by Jorge Briceño Suárez, known as Mono Jojoy, who told him that he was in the list of politicians to be interchange with the government. Jara said in his first press conference that it is urgent to follow a humanitarian interchange in order to get the release of all hostages.

Jara said also to the press that Farc is not defeated and there are many people in that guerrilla, especially young people, therefore, the only way for peace is a negotiation between Farc and government, he suggested.

He thanked all the political leaders of his State, Meta, who supported his family during his time as a Farc hostage. He underlined the role of the Colombian press in its help to his release and in the support for the hostages. He said that thanks to the mass media, the hostages can have a contact with their families. The mass media has done a humanitarian chain to press for freedom he said. Thanks to the Colombian radio, he could listen the last words of his mother before she passed away. “To listen the sport programs is very important to the hostages” to forget a little their suffering and forgotten life.

He thanked also Sen. Piedad Córdoba and the group of “Colombians for the Peace”.

Alan Hara said also that president Álvaro Uribe does nothing for the release of the hostages.

Everything I listen is about strength and success of the policy of the Democratic Security and, if the Policy of Security is so strong, would it reel for a humanitarian agreement? I do not believe that the Democratic Security is so weak, said Hara.

He said that when he was in the forest, tied to a tree by a chain, the only immutable thing was the three. For that reason he considers that there are not immutable things for the State, which only reason of being is the defense of the life, honor and goods of its citizens.

The ex-hostages coming out from the Brazilian helicopter in Villavicencio. Photo caracol.com.co

The ex-hostages coming out from the Brazilian helicopter in Villavicencio. Photo caracol.com.co

President Uribe authorized Sen. Piedad Córdoba to continue

Bogotá | 3rd Feb, ’09. President Uribe accepted the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross to authorize the continuity of Sen. Piedad Córdoba in the process of release of the two other Farc hostages in the coming hours. Uribe, who suspended the participation of “Colombian for the Peace”, a group of intellectuals leaded by the senator, expressed his worry for the bomb that was detonated in Cali and attributed by the Police to Farc, at the same moment the group was releasing four of its hostages. He authorized however the participation of Piedad Córdoba, the main leader of “Colombians for the Peace”, under request of the Red Cross.

The government ordered the suspension of flights of the Air Forces over the area designated for the release of the hostages by Farc. The communicate of Casa de Nariño says that any flight would be done only by request of the International Committee of the Red Cross in any situation of emergency.

President Uribe suspended mediation of “Colombians for the Peace”

Villavicencio. The Farc guerrillas released three policemen and a soldier, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Heller. The four hostages arrived to the Vanguardia Airport of the city of Villavicencio, 55,86 miles at the south of Bogotá, in Brazilian helicopters. The policemen and the soldier were given to the humanitarian commission in a rural area of the State of Caqueta, south of Colombia. The delegation was made by a group known as “Colombians for the Peace” leaded by Sen. Piedad Córdoba and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Soldier William Giovanni Rodríguez and police officials Alexis Torres Zapata, Juan Fernando Galicia and José Walter Lozano, were hostages of the Farc guerrilla for several years. The release is made at the first anniversary of the national protests against Farc guerrilla. This fact makes that some observers point out that different to a humanitarian act, it is a political gesture of Farc to recover.

Farc guerrilla promised on last 21rst December that it would release six hostages as a prove of its will in the humanitarian interchange and peace process. It said also that the gesture was going to be done through the mediation of a group of intellectuals leaded by Sen. Piedad Córdoba. The group is also known as “Colombian for the Peace.”

The guerrilla announced also that the release would be done during the first days of January. Discussions about the formation of the humanitarian committee to receive the hostages took several days. Many observers proposed the presence of a foreign country to guarantee safety of the process. The Colombian government was reluctant about the presence of foreigners in the commission.

But the International Red Cross got the green light from the government of president Uribe. The international organization had a precedent discussion with the Colombian government, because during the release of Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages by the army, a soldier used a private emblem of that organization, causing an intense debate.

Other hot moment was when Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, accused Senator Piedad Córdoba of a political show and the promise of Farc as a deception.

A pool of international proposals between “Colombian for the Peace” and the government became also a cause of debate. While Sen Córdoba proposed persons like Graça Machel Mandela and other figures compromised with peace processes in the world, President Uribe announced that it should be the Vatican. The surprising announcement of Uribe brought at its time another debate: the Catholic Church was disturbed because it was not consulted before and Uribe did not follow the diplomatic paths to do so.

At the end, it was announced that Brazil was selected as the guaranteed country for the release.

Media and sources were rather prudent with the process since Farc announced the release. It seemed that it was at mind the conflict that rose between the governments of Uribe and Venezuelan Chávez in November 2007. At the time, Uribe suspended the mediation of Caracas and broke a diplomatic uneasy for the coming months.

When Chávez was asked in Cartagena de Indias about this process in a press conference besides Uribe, the Venezuelan president answered that he had not information about it, knowing nothing about Piedad Córdoba and that he waits orders from the Colombian government in this issue supporting the pacification of the country.

For the Colombian political analyst Alfredo Rangel, this release is not a humanitarian but a political gesture of Farc. The guerrilla was politically defeated on 4th February 2008 when thousand of Colombians move in a big manifestation against them, according to Rangel in an interview to Caracol Radio.

Farc is trying to gain the political terrain that it lost a year ago. If that is true, the analyst considers that the peace process will take more time.

The practice of kidnapping policemen, soldiers, political leaders, farmers and many others, has been used by the Colombian communist guerrilla in the last two decades as a war strategy against the State. However, in the last year, the method got not only national but international condemnation, added to the fact that United States and the European Community included Farc in the list of international terrorists.

According to Alfredo Rangel, a journalist, political and sympathizer of the Uribe´s government, if Farc shows a commitment to stop kidnapping and does not ask a military clearance as a condition to peace dialogues, peace in Colombia will take more time.

However, this month Alfonso Cano, the top leader of Farc, mentioned to a Spaniard journalist of Cambio 16, that he is ready to talk with Uribe if the security conditions are guaranteed. It was the first time that a Farc leader talks about peace dialogues without mentioning the condition of a military clearance. The worlds of Cano, at the context of the six hostages release, opened a door of hope for the difficult pacification of Colombia.

At the same time, president Uribe announced this month, that if Farc gives up, the government will not give pardon, but freedom and recompense. He said it first in relation with Mono Jojoy, one of the military top leaders of Farc and after as a whole.

Unlikely Rangel, I consider that the release of this first group of hostages, is promising. Even if it is a political gesture – and that is completely true, another gestures must be considered in the context of this release by both parts – government and guerrilla. Senator Piedad Córdoba said that she hopes that this release will open the gates to more releases. It is also the hope of all Colombians and the international community.

President Uribe reduced the humanitarian commission after critics

Bogotá. President Uribe suspended the mediation of “Colombians for the Peace”, a group of intellectuals leaded by Senator Piedad Córdoba. Still two hostages to be released according to the promise of the Farc guerrilla: the former governor of the State of Meta, Alan Jara and the former deputy of legislation of the State of Valle del Cauca, Sigifredo López. According to the program, Jara will be release today Monday and López on Wednesday.

Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos and President Álvaro Uribe, received the soldier and three police agents who were released last night by the Farc. Photo Felipe Pinzón, Casa de Nariño.

Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos and President Álvaro Uribe, received the soldier and three police agents who were released last night by the Farc in Casa de Nariño. Photo Felipe Pinzón, Casa de Nariño.

The suspension of the participation of the group of “Colombians for the Peace” came after some of them criticized some military overflights near the area of the release that, according to their statements, put in risk the humanitarian process.

Bu his part, president Uribe declared in Casa de Nariño, where he received the soldier and the four police officials that were released by Farc, that the military overflights respected the area of the release and that there were not military defensive actions.

“Colombians for the Peace”, a group of intellectuals, is leaded by Senator Piedad Córdoba, who is one of the top opponents of the government of president Álvaro Uribe. In the group there are also some well known journalists like Daniel Samper Pizano and Jorge Enrique Botero.

The president greeted the new released as heroes of the nation and thanked the International Red Cross and the government of Brazil for their support. He omitted to mention the group “Colombians for the Peace.”

“There were flights of the Colombian Aerial Forces. Those flights respected the minimum heights in the authorized areas. There were not offensive military operations,” said the president.

Uribe said also that the government of Colombia facilitated this operation as an act of solidarity with the families of the hostages.

He said also that the event has been used by Farc against the agreements and called the guerrillas as a group of kidnappers, drug dealers and terrorists. He accused the Farc guerrillas as a responsible for the detonation of a bomb-car in Cali last night and other terrorists attacks in Bogotá and Neiva few days ago.

3 Comments

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  1. masha

    Alan Hara was my frient many years ago @ uni. Is that possible to find out his e-mail address , postal address or telephone number through your blog? Or just say hi to him? Would somebody help me please! I leave in Australia and don’t speak any Spanish.

  2. Colombia Passport

    Hello Masha, thanks for your visit and comment. We do not have personal info of Mr Hara. I propose to you to contact the administration of the Meta State (departamento del Meta). If you send a mail to to Mr Hara through that address, it is likely possible they will forward to Mr Hara. Villavicencio is a small city. Official site http://www.meta.gov.co/
    Gobernación del Meta Cra 33 Nº 38-45 Plazoleta los libertadores, Linea Gratuita 01 800 918 699 Villavicencio – Meta – Colombia

  3. masha

    Many- many thanks for your reply! If you only knew how much you’ve done for me! I’ll try the website you’re recomending. Kind regards, Masha

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