The Ingrid Betancourt sweepstakes

The FARC handling of the Ingrid Betancourt situation becomes more horrible as days go by. It is now common knowledge that Ingrid, in her seventh year as a hostage, let's not forget that, is nearly dead, and rumored to be going on hunger strike, preferring death than the miserable tortures that her FARC captors are subjecting her to.

In a way Ingrid is the victim of Uribe successes against the war he is waging over the FARC. The successful trend is speeding up as two of the main leaders of the FARC were killed, one in action another by his defecting body guards. Thus the military weakness of the FARC and its internal decay are for all to see. As a result the only valuable item left for the FARC is Ingrid Betancourt, thanks to her becoming a cause célèbre in France.

The situation this week reached epic proportions. Ingrid has been reported visiting small health centers escorted by her captors as these ones cannot keep her alive on their own. So they just come out of the jungle in some forsaken outpost hoping, literally, for a miracle. That this establishes that releasing hostages is a much easier operation than other orchestrated ones we have seen early this year does not escape the mind of acute observers. No wonder that Uribe does not want Chavez in this whole affair anymore, media shows do not bring anything. Not to mention that publicly he keeps insulting Uribe on an almost daily basis.

Even the French had taken a more discrete approach, at least until this week when a desperate Sarkozy, sensing the imminent death of Ingrid has decided to play its full hand and dispatched an airplane fully equipped with medical supplies to rescue Ingrid. Currently that airplane is sitting on some Colombian tarmac while the FARC have declared that unless Uribe gives them some land and releases all of the FARC prisoners, they will not release Ingrid. However Uribe is not yielding though in good faith he has announced that he would clear any area that the FARC points out for a given amount of time so they can release Ingrid safely, her and the FARC.

Ingrid value has gone up to incredible heights, except in Colombia, courtesy of the grandstanding of Chavez and the mediatization of her cause in higher French political spheres. That Chavez is wavering, ruefully saying one day that there is nothing he can do for Ingrid to state the next day that he will take personal action does not help. At this point Sarkozy announces that he will go to the jungle with Chavez if needed, perhaps risking becoming a hostage himself.

The stakes now are too high, the FARC has made too many mistakes. Uribe is ready to sacrifice Ingrid if this is what it takes to finish off the FARC. That is what a true statesman does, but the FARC being thugs cannot understand that. I know, it sounds cold but you cannot sacrifice the future of a country for the well being of a single person. Giving up on Ingrid might end up saving hundred of other hostages as the FARC would probably start crumbling faster with an increasing defection rate.

Why is the FARC so blind to the consequences of letting Ingrid die in their hands? Why don't they realize that after all the failures they have had recently they are in dire need to refurbish fast their image? Releasing Ingrid without conditions would do them an incredible good, turning international opinion
partially back in their favor. True, Ingrid is not enough to change the course of war as the FARC will require months if not years to recover from their recent setbacks. But giving up a dead Ingrid will certainly not help their cause.

And let's be pragmatic, even if Uribe were to surrender some land, within a few weeks he would find any excuse to take it back. That is why the latest blackmail and insults from Granda, the FARC foreign secretary of sorts, sound so hollow, even those against "capitalistic" France. Everybody knows that today it is Uribe who grants favors, not the other way around.

I suspect that even Chavez in Miraflores must be miffed at the FARC. In last night cadena he even had the gall to say that he never had business with the FARC, except very recently to free a few hostages. This after he acknowledged his liking for them last January asking the world to recognize the FARC and implicitly recognizing his ties with them (not to mention the obvious sympathies between his interior minister and the FARC caught on video for the whole world to watch) !!!!! That should say to the FARC that their current strategy is failing and that any respite they can get, any good will they can gain cannot be jettisoned that easily. Even Chavez is careful to publicly mark distance with them even if behind the scenes we can be sure that feverish negotiations are taking place.

The FARC have no choice but to release Ingrid in the very next days. Not doing so only hurts their cause. That they do not seem to realize that only shows how primitive, how corrupted by years of violence and drug trafficking they have become. Apparently they have ceased to be human.

Ps: all links to English language articles, for once.

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