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2008-07-17
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Illegal Rescue from the FARC

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Only days ago, the Columbian military staged a daring rescue that succeeded in freeing kidnapped victims from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Amongst those victims were three American contractors and a prominent Columbian political figurehead. The rescue itself was performed bloodlessly when some FARC rebels betrayed their cause and provided code phrases to the military. The use of the codes created the false pretense the hostages were to be moved, whereupon the rescue helicopter landed, nonchalantly loaded the victims and took off. In subsequent interviews, the three American captives and Columbian Ingrid Betancourt described the hellish conditions they were subjected to for more than five years.

Almost without thinking, one can quickly conclude this operation was perfect. Nobody from the FARC, the military or any of the rescued victims were hurt during the rescue. However, Columbian President Alvaro Uribe admits at least one member of the rescue party was wearing a symbol for the International Red Cross, which violates the Geneva Convention when used under false pretenses. Using the symbol may likely endanger future humanitarian workers within the program who will now be eyed with extra suspicion as to their true origin.

Considering the operation's amazing success and the ruthlessness with which the FARC held its captives, should this violation be forgiven or reprimanded?



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