Uribe Promotes Former FARC Hostage To Rank Of Police General

By Dialogo
May 13, 2009

Today Colombian police official Luis Mendieta, who had been held hostage by the FARC for more than 10 years, was promoted to the rank of General by President Álvaro Uribe, who urged the Army to rescue all the hostages. In a ceremony held at the School of Police Cadets in Bogotá Mendieta was awarded the highest rank, making him the most senior official within the armed forces, even above that of the current director, General Óscar Naranjo. His wife, María Teresa Paredes, and their two children, Jenny Estefani and José Luis, received from Uribe’s hands badges that attest to their father’s position as General of Police. Mendieta was kidnapped in the seizure by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) of the city of Mitú on November 1, 1998, while serving as Commander of Police of that city, which is the capital of the department of Vaupés. "Luis Herlindo Mendieta, who was kidnapped by the FARC terrorist group in the seizure of Mitú, is promoted to the rank of major general. We award proof of his promotion to his wife, his children, and his entire family," said the President. Awaiting the release of Mendieta, his family has saved his Christmas, birthday, and celebration gifts, and the college and university degrees of his children, who had last seen him when they were children. Uribe called on the armed forces to increase operations to rescue the 22 soldiers and policemen who are still the rebels’ captives, and said the Army is looking for the sites where they are being held. The head of state indicated, regarding the FARC’s announcement of the release of Army Sergeant Pablo Moncayo, that he will not permit political propaganda, and only allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Catholic Church to participate in the humanitarian mission to meet him. "We reiterate our wish that the International Red Cross, without obstructing our military operations, receive him, along with the Catholic Church," where the FARC indicate sergeant Moncayo is to be released," said Uribe. He also indicated it will not accept rebels’ "maneuvers" to deceive Colombians “with the torturous offer of one-by-one release of hostages, and then reinforce their propaganda.” The FARC have demanded the presence of opposition congresswoman Piedad Córdoba, one of Uribe’s major critics, in the operation to release of Moncayo, who has been captive for over eleven years. The senator has participated in the liberation of 12 hostages that the FARC has released unilaterally, but the government decided to suspend its mediation in the release of Moncayo. "We cannot allow the FARC another chance to wear a humanitarian disguise because they, in the conscience of all Colombians, are involved in 'Farcpolitics'" said the President. The rebel assault on Mitú left 43 dead, including soldiers, policemen, and civilians, plus 47 wounded troops and 61 abductees. Nearly a thousand guerrillas led by the military chief of the FARC, Jorge Briceño (aka "Mono Jojoy"), participated in the attack, the first and only one by these guerrillas on a departmental capital and one of the most devastating in the near half-century history of internal conflict. Mendieta is part of a list of 22 police and military hostages the guerrillas want to trade for their imprisoned rebels.