The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Bogota (AFP) – Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels have released a former U.S. Marine after holding him for four months, in a move promptly hailed by Washington on Sunday.

“We welcome the release today of Kevin Scott Sutay from captivity at the hands of the FARC,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “The United States is profoundly grateful to the government of Colombia and commends its tireless efforts to secure his release.”

Kerry’s statement came as a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Colombia announced that the American had been freed.

Sutay was captured on June 20 in the central-eastern Colombian region of Guaviare during a trekking and tourism visit to the known guerrilla area.

Last month, at the request of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson traveled to Colombia for talks to secure Sutay’s freedom.

“We also appreciate the contributions of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the governments of Norway and Cuba in securing Mr Sutay’s freedom,” Kerry said.

“And we thank the Reverend Jesse Jackson for his efforts,” he added.

ICRC official Jordi Raich said Sutay had been examined by a doctor with his group and that he was fit enough to travel.

The release, aside from ICRC monitoring, was observed by representatives of the governments of Colombia, Cuba and Norway, a Red Cross statement said. The names of the monitors were not disclosed.

Another statement from the Cuban and Norwegian governments, released in Havana, said Sutay was handed to U.S. authorities at 11:30 am Sunday at the Bogota airport.

Raich described the 27-year-old American as a very happy, but did not offer any details on his condition.

Jackson had offered to meet Sutay on his release as the FARC requested but Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected that idea insisting that only the ICRC handle it.

The FARC, which now has 7,000-8,000 troops, have waged an insurgency against the state since the Marxist-inspired force’s founding in 1964.

The FARC and Colombian government are negotiating in Havana to try to reach a deal to end Latin America’s longest running insurgency.

The latest peace talks have been under way for nearly a year, with little sign of movement. Four previous attempts to negotiate peace failed.

Meanwhile, the fighting continues in parts of Colombia.

Santos has so far rejected a ceasefire before a peace agreement is reached, saying the rebels have used past truces to regroup.

The FARC observed a unilateral ceasefire for two months after the talks began in November 2012, but they lifted it after the government failed to follow suit.

After 15 rounds of talks, the sides have reached consensus on only one point — land reform issues — from a five-point agenda. Negotiators are currently on the second agenda item — political participation by the FARC.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Michael Flynn

Former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has made more than his fair share of disturbing, jaw-dropping remarks-- like telling the former guy he should impose martial law to hold a new election or suggesting a Myanmar-like coup at a QAnon conference in May. But he seemed to reach a new low when he joked about using a newly gifted assault rifle to carry out an assassination in the nation's capital.

"We were trying to come up with a rifle that we thought was appropriate for a general, so we went with an old-school Woodland of our top-quality guns," said Jason Parker, a gun company employee who gifted the weapon to Flynn.

Keep reading... Show less

Sean Hannity

Photo by Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News host Sean Hannity disclosed during his radio show on Friday that he had made peace with a fellow right-wing radio host whose content mill had warned that Hannity's "feverish support of the vaccine" against the novel coronavirus betrayed his conservative audience.

Keep reading... Show less