“I never expected to get out of there alive,” said Betancourt, 46, her voice sounding frail but charged with excitement, in comments broadcast on the radio.”
Wow. I really thought she would die in there. Watch as all the slimey American and French politicians take credit over this and reveal some generic press release. Sarkozy-you’ve done F’ALL!
News via HERALD
“Captured while she campaigned quixotically for the presidency, Betancourt, over her six years as a hostage, became a symbol of suffering, courage and endurance, her cause embraced by all political parties in France, which considers her one of their own.
The rescue was a major victory in Colombia’s struggle with FARC, a Marxist-inspired insurgency that has been attempting to topple the Colombian government for more than four decades.
Colombia’s defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, said the captives were removed from the jungle on Wednesday by an elite commando unit in Guaviare, after Colombian intelligence operatives infiltrated the FARC’s seven-member secretariat.
The United States was involved in the planning of the operation and provided “specific support,” the White House said. But officials there would not describe the nature of that support. One American official who was briefed on the operation but insisted on anonymity confirmed that intelligence support to Colombia for the mission, but would not provide any details.
The three Americans, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, were captured in 2003 while working for Northrop Grumman after their surveillance plane went down on an antinarcotics mission for the United States Defense Department. The Americans were taken on a military plane to the United States after they were freed.
Betancourt and the Americans were among more than 40 captives used by the FARC to bargain for political concessions. The FARC is also thought to hold hundreds of other abductees in jungle camps. “We will continue working for the liberation of the other captives,” Santos said at a news conference in Bogotá.
The rescue comes during a period of fragmentation in the FARC after the killing and capture of several senior commanders in recent months.
Gordon Johndroe, the deputy White House press secretary, said the American ambassador to Colombia, William Brownfield and the United States combatant commander in the region, Admiral James Stavridis, were “engaged in the planning stages.”
“This was a Colombian-conceived and led operation; we supported the operation,” he said, adding, “This rescue was long in the planning, and we’ve been working with the Colombians for five years, since the hostages were taken, to free them from captivity.”
He said President George W. Bush was kept apprised of the planning and that he called after the rescue to congratulate President Álvaro Uribe, calling him “a strong leader.” Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, released a statement that said Uribe and Santos had briefed him about the operation on Tuesday night, during his visit to Colombia.”
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke to Uribe on Tuesday night, according to his office. Late on Wednesday night, he appeared on live television with Betancourt’s grown children and her sister.
“Ingrid is in good health,” Sarkozy said of Betancourt, who holds dual French and Colombian citizenship. “My first words would be to say how happy we are.