U.S. praises Uribe in hostage release



The State Department praised Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for the release of two hostages by a guerrilla group Friday Thursday, but barely acknowledged the role of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, released former vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas and former senator Consuelo González, who were quickly taken to Venezuela.

"First of all, the important thing is we welcome the release of these two hostages," said State Department spokesman Tom Casey when asked if the gesture would augur well for three U.S. hostages and increase Chávez's star power in Latin America. "They should have never been taken hostage in the first place."

Casey said all hostages should be released -- Colombian and American -- before adding, ‘‘we are also appreciative for the leadership of President Uribe in terms of trying to secure the release of these hostages."

In an apparent reference to Chávez, he added: "We welcome the good offices of any individuals who can help secure that in cooperation with the Colombian government."

Chávez is a fierce critic of U.S. policies and Uribe one of the Bush administration's closes allies in Latin America.

The questioner insisted if the good offices included Chávez.

"I think that anybody, including President Chávez, including anybody who has a role to play that is positive and that supports President Uribe and the Colombian Government's efforts, is to be welcomed," Casey responded. He mentioned Chávez only once, and Uribe six times.

Pentagon contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes have been held by FARC guerrillas since 2003. An earlier mediation attempt by Chávez was called off by Uribe, chilling relations between the two neighbors.

Asked if the State Department would request that Chávez facilitate the release of the U.S. hostages, Casey said the Colombian government was "ultimately responsible for managing whatever process is involved here. So certainly, we are going to continue to work with them."

After reporters lobbed three more questions on whether the U.S. government would ask Chávez to help, Casey added, "This is not a U.S. issue. . . . "This is a Colombian issue."

Read more Colombia stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category