International media has once again been active with news from Colombia – dramatic hostage rescue, elated families and some wise words from a rescued hostage. Ingrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate and a hostage of the FARC rebel group since 2002 – kidnapped on the campaign trail, speaks out about pursuing peace in Colombia.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Ms. Betancourt:
The first thing we have to do is change hearts. We have to change the vocabulary of hate. When I dreamed of being free, I told myself that I could not engage in hate or rancor.
We can’t continue using words that invite hate and revenge. The guerrillas are our enemy. But we shouldn’t insult them. We should show them how to seek a dignified exit through peaceful negotiations. If we don’t defeat them correctly, we will sow the seeds of hate for the future. They need to move toward dialogue. If they don’t want to do this, we have a right to construct our own democracy. The FARC needs to understand that their era is over. We need quick negotiations. Still, we can’t allow impunity. Those who have committed crimes must pay for their crimes.
On July 2, Betancourt and fourteen other hostages were rescued by the Colombian military in what has been termed a “brilliant” operation. We rejoice with those rescued and with the families that are now reunited. And we are thankful that no one was hurt or injured during the rescue. However, we are concerned over the nature of the operation and what that means for peace in Colombia.
Read an in-depth analysis on the situation by Rebecca Bartel, MCC Latin America Policy Analyst.