Ingrid Betancourt And Other Hostages Are Free
In a mercifully bloodless security forces operation Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages held by the FARC in Colombia were freed last night. Let us hope that this signals a new era in Colombian politics and that Ingrid (former Presidential candidate for the Green-aligned Party in Colombia) can be a voice for peace, justice and freedom in the days ahead. As the FARC wanes the emphasis must be on the release of all other hostages, cessation of terrorist actions and the cessation of the fascist terror against trade unionists and progressives in Colombia, (that along with the Cocaine trade has fed the cycle of violence and hatred). There must be no repeat of the previous ceasefires and "normalisations" where the fascists and elements of the secret state used the cessation of armed conflict and leftist engagement in the electoral process as an opportunity to massacre former guerillas or anyone unfortunate enough to be seen by them as being on the left.
There is a real opportunity for normal civil society and free trade union activity to resume in Colombia and for openness about the effect of the drugs industry on the society and ecomomy. The hope is that this opportunity will be seized. It will entail an accurate appraisal of the Uribe regime which has hitherto not been on the agenda of many Western regimes and their tame journos who have presented him and the regime as a liberal bulwark against narco-terror rather than something more complicated and dubious, with various connections to the rightist terror and narcotics industry that complete the bloody equation of Colombia today. The West could in theory force Uribe to be more like what he likes to be seen as rather than this dubious reality, but let us not raise false hopes. What is needed is global political pressure, and solidarity with the Colombian people who have had enough of the narcotics dealers and terrorists and their apologists, "left" and right. Whilst Uribe and the dubious Pinochet-esque elements that hide behind him may today revel in the reflected glory of the hostage release operation, and whilst Ingrid and her supporters may be extremely grateful for the action of the security forces that rescued her; a time is coming for a more realistic appraisal of the way forward in Colombia and a popular democratic approach that addresses many of the remaining issues that have driven conflict there.
When this new situation comes about leading elements of the regime may have less reason to be cheerful - let us hope that these elements do not act to sustain the conflict, and the FARC, in an attempt to avoid their own position becoming less secure.
More on the situation from Richard Gott here
Global Greens Resolution from May on Ingrid Betancourt here.
( "Ingrid Betancourt, delegate to the 1st Congress of the Global Greens in Canberra 2001, founder of the Green Party Oxigeno de Colombia, member of the Federation of the Green Parties of America, is nominated President of Honor of the Global Greens and of the Coordination of the Global Green parties.")