Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday met with the four hostages liberated from FARC captivity in an army rescue mission – an operation that the president called an “authoritarian humanitarian act.”
In a meeting attended by the rescued men; General Mendieta, Colonel Murillo, Colonel Donato and Sergeant Arbey Argote, as well as commander of the armed forces Freddy Padilla and Defense Minister Gabriel Silva, the Colombian president gave his thanks to all those involved in the rescue operation.
Uribe called the successful rescue mission an “authoritarian humanitarian act” that “gives great hope to the Colombian people.”
The president addressed the guerrilla group, who he described as “cruel,” and said “you are not the nation’s heroes.” He assured the liberated men that they will receive protection from the government, in case FARC attempt to find them, and said that the government would “give them the chance to restart their lives.”
The liberated men also spoke and once again expressed their gratitude towards all those involved in the rescue, as did the military and government officials present.
Army commander Freddy Padilla highlighted the strength of the armed forces today, in comparison to when the men were kidnapped 12 years ago. He attributed the operation’s success to the support of Uribe’s government and said that such a mission would have been impossible a decade ago.
During the meeting and in the hours preceding it, President Uribe reiterated that guerrillas would be compensated and offered protection if they demobilized and helped in the liberation of hostages.
“If these members of the guerrilla, the terrorist guerrilla, abandon the guerrilla, [if they] free the hostages, we will give them all the compensation,” said the president.
The hostages were on Sunday liberated in a rescue operation by Colombia’s armed forces in the department of Guaviare, after spending the last 12 years in FARC captivity. The rescue mission involved some 300 members of Colombia’s army.
Seventeen members Colombia’s police and army remain in FARC captivity, one of whom, Corporal Jose Martinez, has been held hostage for thirteen years.