Relations between France and Colombia reached breaking point prior to the release of Ingrid Betancourt, with France convinced that only Venezuela could successfully liberate the French-Colombian hostage, a WikiLeaks cable revealed Thursday.
The cable from March 5, 2008, and released through El Espectador, relays how then-Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the U.S that relations between France and Colombia were “very bad” as a result of France’s obsession over Betancourt.
Restrepo added that France were convinced in that moment that only Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would be able to facilitate a liberation operation for Betancourt.
In addition, the French reportedly tried to resubmit a proposal to the Colombian government that involved entrusting a group of countries, including Venezuela, in a humanitarian agreement that would have seen the release operation carried out as part of an exchange for FARC prisoners.
These tensions appear to have arisen partly as a result of the Colombian operation that killed FARC commander Raul Reyes on March 1 with a group of Betancourt’s close friends accusing Uribe’s administration of having “sabotaged” the release effort with that operation.
Betancourt, a former Colombian senator of French-Colombian descent, was kidnapped by the FARC on February 23, 2002 and freed over six years later along with 14 others in an operation by the Colombian military dubbed “Operation Jaque.”
Tensions between France and Colombia were previously highlighted in 2009 when French official Alain Marty alluded to the complexity of the relationship during the release efforts. However, it is only now that further details have been provided as to the extent of the breakdown.