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Celebration In Colombia? Not So Fast.

Laura Flanders

It reads like a Hollywood script-Colombian commandos descend into the jungle and exit with 15 hostages, including a former Colombian presidential candidate and three American Pentagon contractors who'd been held by anti-government guerillas. The hostages had been held for six long years. What a long time and what a relief.

The Pentagon's been getting great press for helping in the raid that released the hostages in Colombia. The Bush Administration was involved in the planning of the rescue and provided unspecified "specific support," according to the White House. As for John McCain, who admitted being briefed about the raid the night before it occurred -- some at Fox News Fox News are giving him props for possibly influencing the hostage release: "There really might be a connection between the high-level visit of the former prisoner of war, John McCain himself, and the release now of three American prisoners here in southern Colombia," said reporter Steve Harrigan.

John McCain, Bush and of course, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe are all too eager to cast the Uribe government in a heroic light. After all, there's another not-so "free" trade deal at stake.

It's always cause for celebration when hostages are released. But let's not lose sight of which side the US has been on during Colombia's grim, dirty conflict.

Although the guerrillas get the coverage, it's not just the FARC that's up to nasty business in Colombia. Successive Colombian governments and their allies have waged brutal war on their critics -- and they've enjoyed support from successive US administrations.

What's Colombia got that McCain and Bush want? Resources and industry, although the place is overwhelmed with poverty. Those who'd relieve that poverty -- trade unionists, for example -- have been slaughtered by the score. Over 400 hundred labor organizers have been murdered under the Uribe regime alone. That's more than in the rest of the world combined -- in six long years. And for all those six years Washington has done deals with Colombia, including giving the military aid and more.

So yes, six years is an age -- but when it comes to blood-for-profit, it doesn't seem so long to Washington. And hostage-taking's wrong. But hostages-to-poverty don't get the sympathy accorded to the Pentagon-contractor kind.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv on Free Speech TV (Dish Network ch. 9415) and online at

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