The Colombian Miracle: Gaining Belated Notice

The Colombian Miracle: Gaining Belated Notice

The daring rescue this week of hostages held by Colombian rebels marks a milestone in Colombia's transformation, a transformation the Colombian people had already recognized. Now, the rest of the world should acknowledge Colombia's imperfect, but no less miraculous, turnaround.

With the release of Ingrid Betancourt, along with three American contractors and a group of Colombians, some in the United States may pause for a moment to ponder the horrific crime of kidnapping. Growing up in Colombia, we pondered it a lot, picturing not only ourselves in captivity, but also, knowing what a kidnapping does to a family, our relatives. Along with fear of the kidnappers, there was the danger that the government would take action to gain someone's freedom. That often spelled disaster. Colombia was a country of warm and kind people, where a few callous ones traded in human suffering, sometimes in the name of politics, sometimes just for money. The government was inept, incompetent and corrupt, incapable of defeating a Marxist insurgency that started in the 1960s, in the days when many still believed communism might solve the country's entrenched poverty and injustice. Drug money turned the rebels into capitalists, and it turned the entire population against their cause. It also made the war interminable. Then, in 2002, something changed. A new government came to power determined, with the help of Washington, to put an end to the conflict that was destroying Colombia while flooding America with narcotics.

The government of President Álvaro Uribe, the Harvard-educated leader who has achieved the impossible in Colombia, has gained the grateful approval of more than 80 percent of Colombians. It is the United States, unfortunately, that has somehow missed the extent of his accomplishments, and the importance of continuing to support him at a time when Colombia's neighbor, Venezuela, under Hugo Chávez works to turn Latin America away from United States.

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