Media Center

Press Release


  July 8, 2008

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today approved a declaration congratulating the people and the Government of Colombia on the operation that led to the rescue of 15 hostages on July 2, among them, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. It also demanded that the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) immediately release the rest of the hostages. From Chile and through video conference, OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, expressed his solidarity with Colombia.

The document states, “That kidnapping is a heinous crime; that it urges the FARC and all illegal armed groups in Colombia to release immediately, without conditions, safe and in good health, all the persons they have kidnapped; and that it urges the FARC to renounce violence and to enter into a dialogue with the Colombian authorities.”

Elsewhere, the Permanent Council of the OAS declared “its support of the efforts of the Colombian State for the final achievement of peace and security in that country, efforts that must be carried out with full respect for human rights, international humanitarian law, and international law.”

The declaration was unanimously approved after the speech given by Colombian Ambassador to the OAS, Camilo Ospina, and Colombian General Gilberto Rocha. Rocha briefed the Permanent Representatives of the 34 Member States on the particulars of “Operation Check,” which resulted in the liberation of the 15 hostages.

During his address, General Rocha explained the details of the three-phased operation that took place in the southern region of Colombia. In the first phase, Colombian security forces pinpointed the exact location of the hostages, and proceeded to infiltrate and penetrate the FARC Secretariat (the highest executive body of the guerrilla group).

In the second phase, he said, they performed the planned rescue “without giving priority to military maneuvers.” The third phase consisted of an optional plan that would be executed in case the previous step was unsuccessful. However, this was not necessary because the operation culminated in the release of all 15 hostages safe and unharmed.

Insulza, who is in Chile to inaugurate the First Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities of Social Development, stated that he shared with the people and authorities of Colombia feelings of amazement and joy, as well as indignation and hope. Amazement, he said, “because we never imagined that an operation like this could be carried out.” Joy “for the passage of the hostages from impotence, rage, pain and suffering, to freedom.”

“Indignation for the cruelty [of the hostages’ plight]. What the hostages have said about the chains, the maltreatment, the abuses, the arrogance—arrogance against the defenseless—has filled us with indignation. It makes us hope that an end will come to the kidnappings of hundreds of Colombians. This is a happy moment, but it is also a moment to remember all the victims that continue to be held hostage by the FARC, and to make a strong call upon humanity to end this conflict, to end this cruelty,” said Insulza.

Finally, Insulza added, “we feel hope. If freedom was possible for Ingrid Betancourt and the other hostages, it will also be possible to achieve the freedom of all those held in captivity as well as the peace that we all yearn for our beloved brothers and sisters from Colombia.”

After the Secretary General’s address, the Permanent Representatives of Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Guyana, Nicaragua, Chile, Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, the United States, El Salvador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Canada, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and Panama took the floor to express the satisfaction of their governments with the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt, eleven Colombian citizens, and three American citizens.

Reference: E-265/08