The Colombian government paid FARC guerrillas hundreds of millions of dollars for the release of French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans, a Colombian documentary maker claimed Monday.
According to official versions, the French-Colombian and American hostages were rescued in 2008 together with eleven members of Colombia’s security forces in “Operation Jaque,” in which the guerrilla organization was tricked into releasing the hostages to an undercover army unit dressed up as humanitarian workers.
But according to journalist Gonzalo Guillen, who produced a documentary about the alleged ransom for the hostages, the release was negotiated with FARC guerrillas “Cesar” and “Gafas,” who were arrested during the operation.
Guillen gave a press conference in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito Monday to promote his documentary “Jaque, a Not So Perfect Play” which will be shown on Ecuadorean television station Teleamazonas Wednesday.
“It was a financial, not a military operation,” Guillen told reporters.
According to the journalist, his documentary proves that Bogota and foreign governments negotiated with the guerrillas for months and in the end agreed to pay a ransom and allow the two guerrillas to flee the jungle together with the hostages.
The negotiation allegedly took place through Carlos Toro, a Colombian lawyer who previously admitted to have facilitated negotiations between the Colombian government and the two FARC guerrillas, but denied ever having reached an agreement to release the hostages.
Co-producer Jeannette Hinostroza of Teleamazonas said that the allegedly fake military operation was meant to boost the popularity of then Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos to secure his 2010 election as President of the Republic.
After the release of Betancourt and the three Americans, Cesar was extradited to the United States. The extradition of Gafas was refused by the Colombian Supreme Court.
Operation Jaque is seen as one of the most successful military operations against the FARC, who have always insisted they were betrayed by the two guerrillas in charge of guarding the hostages.