U.S. contractors left to rot in the Amazon

A Colombian police officer made a dramatic escape last month from the clutches of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a notorious left-wing militia better known as FARC. The officer, Jhon Frank Pinchao, had spent eight long years languishing in a FARC prison in his country’s jungle lowlands before he was able to get out. ...

601803_070518_pinchao_05.jpg
601803_070518_pinchao_05.jpg

A Colombian police officer made a dramatic escape last month from the clutches of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a notorious left-wing militia better known as FARC. The officer, Jhon Frank Pinchao, had spent eight long years languishing in a FARC prison in his country's jungle lowlands before he was able to get out.

Pinchao says he spent 17 days "fighting off mosquitoes and snakes" before finally wandering back into civilization. And he arrived with some alarming news: The day he escaped, he caught sight not only of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, imprisoned since 2002, but of three U.S. defense contractors who had made a crash landing in the Amazon jungle four years ago while on a reconnaissance assignment. The contractors were last confirmed alive in 2003, when their families received a "proof of life" video from FARC.

Curiously, nothing much has been made of this news in the U.S. media, and nobody is proposing to do anything about it. While an intense search for three U.S. GIs held hostage south of Baghdad stretches into its seventh day, the three Northrop Grumman contractors, one of whom is reportedly suffering from hepatitis, continue to languish in their jungle prison. The parallel only highlights the inexcusability of letting U.S. citizens—government contractors, no less—waste away in the hands of a narcoterrorist group. Send in the Marines?

A Colombian police officer made a dramatic escape last month from the clutches of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a notorious left-wing militia better known as FARC. The officer, Jhon Frank Pinchao, had spent eight long years languishing in a FARC prison in his country’s jungle lowlands before he was able to get out.

Pinchao says he spent 17 days “fighting off mosquitoes and snakes” before finally wandering back into civilization. And he arrived with some alarming news: The day he escaped, he caught sight not only of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, imprisoned since 2002, but of three U.S. defense contractors who had made a crash landing in the Amazon jungle four years ago while on a reconnaissance assignment. The contractors were last confirmed alive in 2003, when their families received a “proof of life” video from FARC.

Curiously, nothing much has been made of this news in the U.S. media, and nobody is proposing to do anything about it. While an intense search for three U.S. GIs held hostage south of Baghdad stretches into its seventh day, the three Northrop Grumman contractors, one of whom is reportedly suffering from hepatitis, continue to languish in their jungle prison. The parallel only highlights the inexcusability of letting U.S. citizens—government contractors, no less—waste away in the hands of a narcoterrorist group. Send in the Marines?

Sam duPont is a Master's candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and focused his capstone research on transitional democracies and elections in fragile states.

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