Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
As the coordinator of a US Govt. funded anti-kidnapping initiative in Colombia (2003-04), I am intimately aware of the criminal and FARC kidnapping schemes in Colombia.

Having met personally with Colombian officials, as high as the Vice President  (himself a one time kidnapping victim), I can assure everyone that the primary goal of the Colombian Govt (GOC). is to secure the safe release of all kidnapped victims. During the period of my association, the GOC was becoming increasing successful in rescuing victims and disrupting the guerilla (mostly FARC), right wing paramilitary gps,and criminal gangs that are responsible for kidnapping.  The plight of Ms. Betancourt and others that remain on the list of those held is that they usually have been relocated, after being kidnapped, to areas held by the FARC.  Rescue attempts under such circumstances are very difficult.

My personal views on the FARC are that while it was once ideologically motivated it has degenerated into nothing more than a band of criminals that supports itself, not on popular contributions, but on trafficing in illegal drugs, protection of coca and heroin fields, and kidnapping of innocent civilians.  While there is no doubt that corruption is common in Colombia, as in many countries throughout the world, and there are human rights abuse (also prevalant elsewhere, the main culprit is not the GOC but the guerilla groups, primarily the FARC.   The US Govt. policy on human rights abuse by the GOC army and police was very clear.  No support was to be given to any particular army or police group that participated in any human rights abuses or to any such group that had a member who was accused of such abuses.   I believe the GOC has made significant efforts to reduce abuses and continues to do so.  Nevertheless, the effects of the on-going war with the criminal FARC, on top of one-time domination of the country by the drug cartels, has had a devastation effect on the lives of all Colombians.  This small, and yes beautiful, country, deserves our continued support.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 01:16:02 PM EST

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