The eleven members of the security forces who were released from FARC captivity in Operation Jaque returned Tuesday to the place where they regained their freedom a year ago.
The Colombian Army operation on
July 2, 2008 freed high profile hostage Ingrid Betancourt and three US contractors along with the eleven Colombians held hostage by FARC.
Heralded by Armed Forces Commander Fredy Padilla de Leon as the most successful Colombian military operation ever, soldiers manged to intercept FARC communications and convince guerrillas that the hostage were to be moved from one camp to another by a fictitious humanitarian helicopter.
Twelve months on, Betancourt told the media, “each July 2 until I die I will pay tribute with my heart and soul to those men that had the audacity and the courage to get us out of there”.
The return to the point of their liberation was emotional for the soldiers.
“A year ago we were in that house, on the other side of the river, meditating on our situation. We were saying that they were going to take the oldest, the two sick people, Ingrid… we were full of uncertainty,” Sergeant William Perez recalled.
The group remembered ‘Cesar’, the FARC ‘jailer’, sitting on a chair and giving the coordinates of the camp to the helicopter.
“We didn’t think for a single moment that we would be freed. We were only scared about what might happen to us after that mission,” one of the soldiers recounted.
The group relived the moment that they climbed into the helicopter and an official involved in the operation yelled, “we are the national army, you are free”.
Returning to the site was impactful for the soldiers but “it was a catharsis that we had to undergo. Maybe now we can close another stage of this difficult chapter in our lives,” said one of the ex-hostages.