Assessing Chavez's Role in Colombian Hostage Release

January 14, 2008 06:55 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Having helped negotiate the release of two Colombian hostages, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defended the rebels who held them. That was too high a price in some estimations.

30-Second Summary

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made headlines at the end of last week by securing the release of two hostages held for years by Colombian insurgents.

Chavez said he was ready to broker further releases and also urged the Colombian and foreign governments to stop labeling the leftist rebels “terrorists” and recognize them as “belligerents.” As such, said Chavez, they are a real army with legitimate political goals. 

The Colombian government countered that the tactics employed by FARC, such as the indiscriminate murder of civilians and the use of prohibited weapons, marked it out as a terrorist organization.

The government also said that the successful hostage release proved that FARC does not need a safe haven to conduct peace talks and hostage-prisoner exchanges. 

The government’s unambiguous remarks prompted some to claim that Chavez’s mission had failed.

The Colombian government is now even less likely to make concessions to the guerrillas even under foreign pressure, observers say. The chances for a prisoner swap, which was arguably FARC’s goal, have dwindled, the BBC reported.

Where some observers see failure, others see a victory for Chavez. The latter conclude that he has given the insurgents legitimacy while strengthening his image as a capable mediator.

Headline Link: ‘Chavez Defends Colombia’s Leftist Rebels’

Reaction: ‘Chavez Irks Colombia by Defending Rebels’

Background: ‘Colombian Rebels Free Two Hostages’

Opinion & Analysis: Chavez’s mission—success or flop?

No agreement in the near future
Chavez’s move an unhelpful success

Key Players: The hostages, the guerrillas, Uribe and Chavez

The hostages
The guerrillas
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

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