As Colombia pursues peace with FARC, an American hostage shares the country’s doubts

The Miami HeraldBy Jim Wyss

For five and half years, Marc Gonsalves and two colleagues — all American contractors — were hostages of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. During those 1,967 days, Gonsalves saw friends executed. He was chained by the neck, locked in a cage and lived in fear he would end up buried in a forlorn hole in the jungle.

As Colombia tries to salvage a peace pact with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Gonsalves, 44, shares many of the doubts that this nation also seems to harbor about the deal and its leniency toward a guerrilla organization that the United States considers a terrorist group.

“These are people who tortured me and others, and they have committed terrible crimes,” Gonsalves, a Connecticut native who lives in Port Charlotte, Florida, said of his one-time captors. “So to see them sign-off on a deal where they will not be truly punished…I am not happy about it.”

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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