Thursday, September 29, 2016

Peace in Columbia At Last - A Good Omen for the New Year

Ever since reading Even Silence Has An End, My Six Years of Captivity in the Columbian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt, I have followed news of the talks between the Columbian government and the FARC, the leftwing guerilla group that has been terrorizing the people of Columbia for 52 years. I am not well versed enough in this conflict to have an opinion about whether or not the FARC’s demands had any justification. Whether they did or not, they held many Columbians terrorized and were responsible for the deaths of many. Their tactics were ruthless.

In her book, Ingrid Betancourt chronicles her experiences being kidnapped and held captive by the FARC in the jungles of Columbia from 2002 to 2008. It is amazing how far the depths are of people's cruelty to one another. In Ingrid Betancourt’s experience with the FARC, the depths of inhumanity seemed to have no bottom.  I felt as though I was plodding through the jungle with her as I read her book. Several times Ms. Betancourt spent months planning an escape in intricate detail. Each time that she tried to carry out her plans she was recaptured and brought back to the camp where she was being held hostage. She maintained her sanity by praying, reading, exercising, and forging friendships with the other hostages whom the FARC was holding in captivity.

Ingrid Betancourt had a relatively high position in the Columbian government and she was fortunate in another respect. She had dual French/Columbian citizenship and the French government advocated for her release. The Columbian government did as well and finally rescued her and several other hostages in a raid on the FARC.

Now that the Columbian government and the FARC have signed a peace treaty after all these 52 years, I wonder what Ms. Betancourt will say about it. For me, it is a sign of hope. If after 52 years at war they can finally sign a peace treaty, there must be hope for the rest of the world. As Jews including myself prepare to usher in a New Year on our calendar, I take this event as an omen. I hope that in the year ahead the Israelis and Palestinians will return to the negotiating table and that other such conflicts will also find an end.

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