Friday, July 04, 2008

Che Away

Oh, how I hope this gets around.

The T-shirts with images of Ernesto "Che" Guevara convinced Ingrid Betancourt. She assumed the men with the iconic revolutionary on their chests were ushering her into the helicopter for transfer to yet another rebel camp.

Instead, Betancourt, along with 14 other hostages, was taking her first steps toward freedom after six years of captivity at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Less than 24 hours later, she would be reunited with the two children she hadn't seen since her capture.

The white helicopter Betancourt climbed into was piloted by Colombian troops, and the six men wearing Che shirts were soldiers who tricked the rebels into following "orders'' to move the prisoners.

... "The helicopters arrived, and these absolutely surreal characters came out," said Betancourt, gripping rosary beads after she landed at Bogota's military airport. "They were wearing Che Guevara shirts and I thought, it's the FARC."

... After the unmarked helicopter flew over the jungle and out of range of the FARC camp, the hostages saw the men in Che T- shirts spring on their captor. Gerardo Antonio Aguilar Ramirez, known by his alias as Cesar, was tied up, stripped and blindfolded. Then the Colombian troops revealed their identity.

To think that those contemptible T-shirts celebrating that heartless murderer and fool will cease to be the height of celebrity counterculture chic. To think that the image of Che now will arouse suspicion of duplicity and mole-paranoia in leftist authoritarian "freedom fighters." It ranks up there with Betancourt's freedom, Chavez' chagrin, and the Colombian military's competence as good outcomes of this good news.