The news on the $500million hostage deal continues:
Clara Rojas is one of those expected to be freed
Helicopters will soon be departing from Venezuela to pick up three hostages being held in the Colombian jungle, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says.
The guerrillas have offered to free Clara Rojas, an aide to former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, kidnapped in 2002, and Ms Rojas’s young son Emmanuel – who was reportedly fathered by one of her guerrilla captors.
The other hostage is former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo, who was kidnapped in 2001.
“We are awaiting the arrival of international envoys for this operation which will take place on Friday,” Venezuela’s ambassador to Colombia, Pavel Rondon, told Colombian radio.
And as Chavez lost his Constitutional gamble on Dec. 2nd. he found himself losing all over. A spat with the King here, a spat with Uribe there and a surprising rejection of his project from his supporters was certainly not a promising framework for his future. And as problems in Venezuela become harder to figure out, Chávez traveled and likely got some advice from the master puppeteer in Havana, who suggested he try to get something out of the FARC, just for show. Temporary relief. He fell for it and so has the media.
The FARC, who could care little about Chavez in the end, offered a very token gift of three hostages, out of the more than 400 in their hands and certainly not the big international catch that everyone is waiting for, as Ingrid Betancourt is not in the package.
But leave it to Chavez and his Cuban media masters to play it up and the stupid international media to fall for it. Chávez held a press conference yesterday, doing the only thing he enjoys and knows something about: military operations. So, while problems mount in Venezuela, including more than 200 homicides over the Christmas season, which must certainly be a new record, Chavez likely put his military uniform and played with little mock up planes and helicopters, reliving his days of failure as a military Commander, but enjoying himself. What else could he ask for?
The FARC meanwhile, gave up very little, but managed to slightly undermine their archenemy Alvaro Uribe, who was forced to accept the military operation cooked up in the depths of the Miraflores Palace. But Uribe keeps playing his game, he knows the FARC have their own agenda and have never given up anything of significance and will in the end make Chavez look bad.
Chávez meanwhile was relishing his role as a newly found “humanitarian”, which would almost be comic, except that it is simply pathetic. Never in the whole process has Chavez asked to have any of the Venezuelan hostages released. While not all eighty of them are in the hands of the FARC, as mostly they represent simply financial transactions in which if the relatives pay, the hostages will be released, in what has become the standard transaction of that guerrilla/mercantile institution called the FARC.
Of course, a true humanitarian would have released this Christmas or prior Christmases not one, but dozens of his political prisoners, held without trial or evidence, who languish in the country’s jails without even receiving due process. Remarkably, this nouveau humanitarian refuses to give others, some of them former friends and colleagues, the same treatment given to him when he got an unconditional pardon after leading to failure an unconstitutional and bloody coup that left many dead, mostly innocent civilians, in various cities of Venezuela.
You must go and read the whole post. It is a clear-eyed assessment that you must read.
Will the hostages be released while the big story on Bhutto is on the front pages? Don’t bet on it.
Miguel has been my podcast guest twice, most recently on December 13.