The military operation to free Betancourt and 14 other hostages was a huge gamble for Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe, but one that eventually paid off. Uribe said it vindicates his policy of not negotiating with the FARC rebels.
The mission was a bluff that took everyone by surprise, not least Betancourt herself, who said: “This morning when I woke up the last thing I imagined was that I’d be here with you. It’s a miracle, I don’t know what else to call it. For me it’s a miracle.” Uribe described the 22-minute operation, in which not a shot was fired, as “one of the greatest epic tales in history.”