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Colombia: Armed Forces Rescue 4 Hostages Kidnapped by FARC in 1998

On Sunday June 13 at midday, as most Colombians were getting ready to watch the World Cup football match between Germany and Australia, the news broke: minutes earlier, President Uribe had announced the rescue of General Luis Mendieta and Colonel Enrique Murillo, two Colombian National Police officials kidnapped by FARC November 1, 1998 during the Mitú siege [es] in the Amazon, in the southeastern Vaupés department. Hours later, authorities confirmed that Army Sergeant Arbey Delgado Argote (kidnapped August 3, 1998 in Miraflores, Guaviare) had been rescued too and that Colonel William Donato (kidnapped with Delgado) had escaped. On Monday morning Donato was found safe by the Army (all those rescued had been promoted to higher ranks after a law was approved in Congress [es] in 2008). The rescue, which took place in Calamar, Guaviare, was dubbed Operation Camaleón by the Defense Minister Gabriel Silva. In 2008, Operation Jaque rescued Íngrid Betancourt and other 14 hostages.

People march with sign "FARC and its hostages are a shame for this country" July 20, 2008. Image by Flickr user pattoncito, used under a Creative Commons license.

As the news broke, Colombian Twitter users –while making their bets for the World Cup match– reacted to the news. Most of them with joy [es], others rather suspicious [es] of the timing of this operation, one week before the presidential election run-off between Juan Manuel Santos (former Defense Minister) and Antanas Mockus.

@kaops19852:

Gracias @AlvaroUribeVel por demostrarles a los amigos de las Farc y a ese grupo que hasta el ultimo día de su mandato los ataca con fuerza

Thank you @AlvaroUribeVel for showing Farc and their friends that you attack them with force until the last day of your term

@adrianitaca:

No puedo creer que algunos en vez de alegrarse digan estupideces

Can't believe that some people instead of being glad say such stupid things

@MaisAngel:

La alegría de un rescatado y el grandioso trabajo de las FFAA no deben nublar el análisis.

The joy of a rescue and the great job by the Armed Forces shouldn't cloud our analysis.

@sergioand:

No importa si usted es liberal, conservador, Uribista, verde o del PIN. Es un secuestrado menos¡¡¡¡¡¡

Doesn't matter if you're a liberal, conservative, uribista, green, or PIN party supporter. It's one less kidnapped person

@AlfonsoRicoT:

Mejor gol, de #Mundial, anotado por el #Ejército al rescatar a #Mendieta y #Murillo #PiedadCórdoba #Secuestrados #FARC http://bit.ly/9bp4n5

The best goal of the #worldcup, scored by the #Army when rescuing #Mendieta and #Murillo #PiedadCórdoba #Kidnapped by #FARC http://bit.ly/9bp4n5

@simonwilchesc (1, 2):

Si hubiera una diferencia más clara entre Gobierno y Estado. Lo de Mendieta no causaría reacciones encontradas y sospechas entre la gente. Y este gobierno ha preferido beneficiar a individuos sobre las instituciones, Es natural que exista la sospecha. No se hagan y no se quejen.

If there was a clearer difference between Government and State, the [rescue of] Mendieta wouldn't generate mixed reactions and suspicions among the people. And this administration has preferred to benefit individuals over institutions. It's natural the suspicion exists. Don't turn [a blind eye] and don't complain.

@Tefa_:

Sinceramente creo en la buena fe de la gente. No sean hijueputas, si Uribe los hubiera podido rescatar a todos, lo hubiera hecho.

Honestly I believe in people's good faith. Don't be motherfu**ers, if Uribe could rescue them all, he'd do it.

@klawdy:

Que viva Colombia carajo, viva nuestro glorioso Ejército Nacional!!! Ojalá la maldita “Corte Suprema de Justicia” no los juzgue en 20 años.

Long live Colombia, dammit, long live our glorious National Army!!! Wish the damn “Supreme Court of Justice” doesn't judge them in 20 years.

@stultaviro:

Si hay un falso positivo, la culpa es de Uribe. Si hay una operación exitosa contra la subversión, es oportunismo de Uribe. Lógica mamerta.

If there's a false positive, the blame goes to Uribe. If there's a successful operation against the subversion, it's Uribe's opportunism. The logic of the ‘commies’.

@juanmurs:

De todo corazón me alegro por la liberación de los secuestrados,pero no sabia que cuando hay rescate militar si se permite el show mediatico

I'm glad with all my heart for the release of the kidnapped, but I didn't know that when there's a military rescue the media show is allowed

@JoseGregorio:

Se necesita un fanatismo inmenso para recibir con odio cualquier logro de Uribe. Me impresionan.

Huge fanatism is needed to receive with hatred any achievement of Uribe. You impress me.

@NiaEsco:

A mi me parece triste que siempre rescaten a los más conocidos. ¿y el resto qué?

I think it's sad that they always rescue the best known [hostages]. What about the other ones?

@MauricioJaramil:

Qué tontería sugerir que rescate tiene propósitos electorales. El riesgo de una operación fallida era mucho mayor.

It's nonsense to suggest that the rescue has an electoral purpose. The risk of a failed operation was much higher.

@arttesano:

¿ si hemos de estar de algun lado no ha de ser del lado de los secuestrados ? . . .

If we're gonna choose one side shouldn't it be the hostages’ side?

@egolaxista:

Lo verdaderamente ridículo es que aquí acusen a alguien de no estar contento porque rescataron a un secuestrado.

The truly ridiculous thing is that here they accuse someone of not being happy because a kidnapped person was rescued.

@jrinconh:

Quienes están contrariados con el rescate porque creen que favorece al candidato del gobierno, harían bien en disimilar un poquito.

Those people upset with the rescue because they believe it favours the government's candidate, would do good if they conceal it a little

@DanielitoBang:

De incoherencias y otras bondades: Malo el show cuando liberaron a Moncayo. Formidable ahora cuando rescataron a Mendieta. ¿Es así?

Incoherences and other kindnesses: The show is bad when Moncayo was released. Formidable now when Mendieta was rescued. It that so?

On Monday morning, the rescued hostages were brought to Bogotá to meet their relatives and receive a medical inspection. Some Twitter users criticized the way journalists covered and behaved during the arrival of the freed hostages and the press conference [es] that followed, as well as the fact that, except Mendieta, the former hostages still had chains on their necks:

@Tefa_:

¿Y esas cadenas que van a mostrar cuántos votos darán? ¿no podían quitárselas o es otra estrategia de JJ?

And those chains the TV is going to show, how many votes will those give? Couldn't they remove them or is this another strategy by [Venezuelan ‘spin doctor’] JJ [Rendón]?

@juanmurs:

Empezó el show en Catam, me acuerdo cuando dijeron que quitarle las cadenas a Moncayo era una payasada

The show has started at Catam [military airport], I remember when they said that removing Moncayo's chains was ridiculous

@kloscorrea:

Parece que algunos periodistas y fotografos quisieran que no estuvieran los familiares estorbando

Seems that some journalists and photographers wish that the relatives weren't there getting in their way

@hyperconectado:

Deberíamos ser expertos en ruedas de prensa para secuestrados. Pero no.

We should be experts on press conferences with hostages. But we're not.

@programator

¿Sí es necesaria esa música apocalíptica para una noticia? Está bien que pasen los testimonios, pero la banda sonora no.

Is that apocalyptic music really necessary for a news story? It's okay that they show the statements, not the soundtrack

@_wap_:

Tenian una motosierra para la liberacion, y no tenian una hijueputa segueta o unas pinzas para quitarles esas cadenas? #Libertad

[The army] had a chainsaw [es] for the release, and they didn't got a motherfu**ing coping saw or some pliers to take their chains off? #freedom

@pcastano

Las últimas liberaciones me han tocado con visitantes estadounidenses en mi casa. Hoy Josh hace preguntas sobre todo este circo…

The latest [hostage] releases have ocurred while I have American guests at home. Today Josh asks questions about all this circus…

@AlejitaO:

La libertad de estos colombianos no tiene nada que ver con un color político, todos repudiamos a las Farc, en eso todos nos parecemos.

The freedom of these Colombians has nothing to do with a political color, we all condemn FARC, we're alike in that sense

With the rescue of these 4 hostages, 17 military and police officers remain kidnapped by the FARC [es], which has tried to swap them for imprisoned guerrilla members; there are also hundreds of anonymous hostages [es] in Colombia.

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