July 22, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Colombians rally for hostages

In another clear expression that public sentiment in Colombia has shifted decisively against the FARC rebel / narco-terrorist movement, millions of people marched in Bogota and other cities on Sunday. They are demanding the release of the remaining hostages, estimated to number about 700. Ingrid Betancourt, the most prominent of the hostages who were recently rescued, lent her voice to this outcry: "It's time to lay down those weapons and exchange them for roses." See the Washington Post.

In the days immediately following her release, Ms. Betancourt said some equivocal things about FARC and the Colombian government, leading some to wonder if she was a victim of "Stockholm syndrome," in which hostages develop sympathy for their captors, feeling they must have good reason to do what they do. Apparently she is not such a victim.

The improved security situation in Colombia, and the brave spirit of the people, is one of the most encouraging trends in the world today, but it just isn't getting enough attention in the American press. (What a surprise.) Given the ongoing problems with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, it is more important than ever for the U.S. Congress to show support for the Colombian people by passing the free trade legislation. Opportunity knocks only once, and Colombia right now is a huge opportunity for U.S. foreign policy, and the cause of freedom in general.