Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chavez Achieves Freedom of Two Farc Prisoners

images by Venezuelan TV ( See the moment of reunion Venezuelan President wins important media victory At approximately 3 p.m local time of January 10, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela announced that he had spoken by satellite telephone with Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez. Both women had just been freed in good condition in some remote area of the jungle near the border of Colombia and Venezuela by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The rebels handed over the Colombian citizens to a delegation that included Red Cross volunteers, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordova and the Cuban Ambassador to Venezuela. In a spectacular live broadcast the Venezuelan State television network showed as the two former hostages spoke with Chavez. “A thousand thanks for your good work Mr. President, please don’t lower your guard and continue with your efforts to free the other prisoners,” said Consuelo Gonzalez. “I am very grateful for your mediation President Chavez, I am very grateful,” said Clara Rojas in a very emotional conversation. (by Both women were retained nearly six years ago by the rebels in separate incidents as they entered FARC controlled territory without the necessary authorization. Both women are members of political parties that are involved in the official Colombian parliamentary system, as opposed to FARC that has waged a brutal guerrilla war against the Colombian Army for the past 50 years. Also the Venezuelan television network broadcasted as the women entered an M-17 helicopter of the local airforce that had Red Cross markings and began their flight to Maiquetia International airport near Caracas, the capital of that South American nation. In an emotional interview the elderly mother of Clara Rojas stated that “this has been the biggest miracle that God could have given me.” Clara Rojas was retained by the FARC rebels along with Ingrid Betancourt that was then a candidate in the Colombian presidential election. On that occasion Rojas made a heroic gesture, since she decided to accompany her friend Ingrid into captivity, even if the rebels told her she could go free. During her captivity, Rojas had an affair with a FARC rebel, and gave birth toa boy named Emmanuel in a jungle base. Emmanuel was also supposed to be included in this liberation operation, but one month ago the Colombian government announced that Emmanuel was really in a state run orphanage. Recently the mother of Clara Rojas other relatives had DNA tests and it seems very likely that the boy in the orphanage is Emmanuel, but his real identity is yet to be confirmed. This delicate operation carried out by FARC should have occurred on Christmas day of last year but the rebels informed Chavez that it was impossible to deliver the hostages due to the intense activity carried out by helicopters and patrols of the Colombian Army. It is now clear that the Colombian authorities tried to prevent the liberation of the hostages at all costs, as was proven some months ago when two women were arrested. They were members of FARC whose mission was to deliver “proof of life” to Chavez in the form of recent photographs and personal letters. All these were immediately published by the official press and caused the outrage among the relatives of the hostages. Among the many prisoners retained by FARC that include officers and soldiers of the Colombian Army are three American military advisers Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes whose helicopter was shot down by FARC rebels in February 2003 as they flew over a jungle area. In a recent interview, one of the leaders of FARC, Raul Reyes declared that the three Americans “are spies that were trying to find out the locations of our bases, so it is very difficult that they will go free in the near future.” The main conclusion that can be gathered from this happy ending is that the hero is President Hugo Chavez, while the villain of the plot is his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe, that has been described in harsh terms by Chavez as “ a puppet of Bush and U.S imperialism.” Also today Chavez declared that his next goal will be to free Ingrid Betancourt , that has both dual French and Colombian nationalities. In the last months of 2007, President Nicholas Sarkozy of France made a televised appeal to the leader of FARC, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda to release Betancourt. After the success obtained by Chavez, maybe to obtain Betancourt´s release Sarkozy will have to accept the repatriation of Ilich Ramirez, a.k.a Carlos, a Venezuelan revolutionary that has been confined at Clairvaux prison in northeast France since 1994.

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