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Statement of Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) on the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt

category venezuela / colombia | miscellaneous | press release author Wednesday July 09, 2008 07:13author by Grupo Raíces - Grúpa Fréamhacha Report this post to the editors

Statement of Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) on the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages in Colombia.
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1. The Grupo Raices welcomes the release of some of the hostages held by FARC-EP, including the ex-candidate Ingrid Betancourt. We are pleased to note further that they are enjoying good health. Our group believes freedom as one of the most precious values. The release of any human being, particularly if they are civilians, being held by the insurgent, paramilitary or government forces, who maintain thousands of Colombians without due process for political reasons in its prisons, will always be a cause of joy for us.

2. We can not forget, just because of the release of a high-profile hostage with the"correct passport", that there are remaining several hostages, several political prisoners and the continuing tragedy of the disappeared at the hands of paramilitaries who, strictly speaking, are kidnapped victims until they appear in mass graves. This situation affects 15,000 disappeared persons.

3. There are quite a things about the rescue that do not square, though it is necessary to wait for more information to know the exact circumstances and how it happened. There are plenty of doubts, mainly because of the roles that Swiss delegate Noel Saez, and French delegate, Jean Pierre Gontard, have been able to play. It is known that in these days they were meeting with the new leader of the FARC-EP, Alfonso Cano, and that they negotiated about the release of the hostages. Similarly, President Uribe had let it be known a month ago that he was in contact with an insurgent who had offered to release Betancourt with certain guarantees. The silence of the insurgents arrested, the marks of torture in only one of them, the haste with which they were extradited to the U.S.; these points raise questions about this subject that we hope future reports could clear up.

4. With equal enthusiasm with which we celebrate the event of the liberation, we deplore the political advantage that the Uribe government has sought to make around this event. The release of the hostages and those abducted does not hide the serious institutional crisis being experienced by Colombia, marked by criminal parapolitics, by the corruption exposed in the case of Yidispolítica, by the authoritarian excesses of Uribe and his constant attempts to obstruct the exercise of justice. Nor should this event be used to justify a military line that although could tip significant blows to the insurgency, has also generated a human tragedy of enormous proportions, symbolized in the more than 4 million people displaced.

5. We also take this opportunity to declare that while we appreciate the fact that Ingrid Betancourt is free at last, we believe her statements to be extremely unfortunate. We believe that they do not help either the search for peace in Colombia or the development of a society based on social justice rather than the rights of the strongest. Saying that the reelection of Uribe was the best thing that could happen to Colombia, in the present circumstances where the country is experiencing a serious institutional crisis due to corruption that made it possible, we think an senseless affirmation. Supporting the third re-election of Uribe, who has been declared as being in defiance of the Supreme Court, we think an attitude that further dents what is already a rule of law under siege. Saying that God's hand operates in Colombia through the Armed Forces, seems to us to be a spear into the heart of the thousands of relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings and crimes of State, such as the massacre at San Jose de Apartado. We must remind to Ingrid Betancourt that she is not the only victim of the conflict.

6. Our group will continue fighting for a negotiated process to resolve the conflict. We heartily welcome the recent liberation and hope for the freedom of the remaining captives at the hands of any of the warring sides, but we do not believe that this liberation can serve as an excuse to hijack an entire nation with the arbitrariness of an army that has a lot to answer for in humanitarian matters, nor prolong indefinitely the Uribe government in violation of the most basic precepts of democracy and without any legality. We can not allow manipulation of the media that seeks to sacrifice the fundamental values that are the only long-term guarantee that Colombia, one day, will walk steady as a nation in peace and harmony.

Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha)
Dublin, July 04, 2008

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