In the Jauqe operation, carried out in 2008, 15 FARC hostages were freed, including Ingrid Betancour and three US contractors.
On July 2, from the monument of the Fallen Heroes, in Villavicencio (Meta) the National Army and some of those released in Operation Jaque were at the event to commemorate 14 years of freedom of the military Juan Carlos Bermeo, Amaón Flórez Pantoja, Erasmo Romero Rodríguez, kidnapped in August 1998, in Miraflores (Guaviare); Raimundo Malagón, kidnapped in August 1998, in Uribe (Meta); José Ricardo Marulanda Valencia, José Miguel Arteaga and William Humberto Pérez Medina, kidnapped in 1998 in El Billar (Caquetá), and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, all kidnapped by the FARC.
Others of those released were, in addition, the North Americans Thomas Howe, Keith Satansell and Marc Gonsalves. This operation marked the history of the institution because, in just 20 minutes, the soldiers who were part of the process managed to successfully complete the mission.
In addition to the event, some remembered the date, one of the first people to speak was Betancourt. “A team of heroes and the faith of Colombia changed our lives 14 years ago. Our soldiers opened the door of peace that we are building today. Thank you Army of Colombia, heroes of Jaque. Glory, peace and freedom are yours forever, “he wrote on social media.
Another of those who spoke was Colonel Malagón, chirping: “Thank you Colombia, our beloved homeland. Thank you Operación Jaque and to the true heroes who had the courage and bravery to risk their lives for those of us who were suffering the scourge of kidnapping”.
Marc Gonsalves joined the thanks, pointing out that he loves Colombia and emphatically recognized the work of the soldiers.
“I am still in love with Colombia and the Colombian National Army. Today we celebrate 14 years of freedom. Thanks to the heroes of the National Army. Your courage, skill and professionalism brought us back to life again. I will always be grateful,” he posted on Twitter.
According to the testimonies, the operation, which required months of planning, was possible after the Colombian Army made the subversives believe that an international NGO would transfer the hostages to the Alfonso Cano camp, then newly named commander of the Farc, for a process of humanitarian exchange between the Colombian State and the guerrillas.
According to an anonymous soldier who participated in the operation, the success was rooted in an electronic deception: from the Army they interrupted communications between the eastern front ‒which gave Cano’s instructions‒ and the one that had the hostages, so that it could not be confirm the veracity of the humanitarian operation.
“We are looking for radio operators with voices similar to those of the FARC. Since there were not enough in the Army, even the wives of intelligence members participated,” the military man explained to El Tiempo at the time.
The deception was on all fronts. No soldier knew about the operation. The then President Álvaro Uribe even publicly announced that he would agree to start peace talks with the now extinct guerrilla to free the hostages. Everything was organized so that public information and false information were related.
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