Amid the bad news and grim developments coming from many parts of the
world, a bright ray of hope was seen in Colombia’s rescue of fifteen
hostages held for years by narco-terrorist rebels. The mission was a
triumph of planning and execution that was many months in the making.
It was also another blow to terrorist forces seeking to overthrow
democratically elected leaders, and proves the need for strength and
steadiness in dealing with such groups.
Three American defense
contractors: Thomas Howes, Mark Gonsalves, and Keith Stansell, former
Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, and eleven other
Colombian nationals were freed. These individuals were part of a high
profile group held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or
FARC, in an effort to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the government
of Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe. Hundreds of others are being held
against their will by the FARC for ransom, monies to be used to fund
their terrorist activities. The U.S. will continue to hold the FARC
responsible for the health and well-being of the hostages it holds.
military and intelligence agents who infiltrated the FARC carried out
the rescue operation, and the hostages were freed without a shot being
fired. It was an operation that should give all Colombians great pride.
George Bush spoke with President Uribe soon after the rescue to offer
his congratulations and our thanks for the safe recovery of our
citizens. Colombia is one of the United States’ closest allies in Latin
America and leaders in Washington are proud of the relationship.
FARC should now take a lesson from its loss, and heed the calls of the
international community to lay down its weapons and release its
hostages so they may be reunited with their families. Democratic
governments everywhere must stand with Colombia and help it in its
struggle against narco-terrorist organizations that seek to impose
their rule by the bullet instead of the ballot.