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Colombian use of Red Cross + Telesur Logo in rescue - illegal - Chavez

iosaf | 28.07.2008 18:59 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Terror War | World

Hugo Chavez has been broadcasting his weekly Sunday telly show almost without fail now for many years. It both gives him an opportunity to get close to his people and also get up the noses of his enemies. Yesterday's show saw him speak of Colombia's "operation Jaque" which saw Ingrid Betancourt rescued on her 2321st day of captivity and the use by Colombia of the red cross insignia of the International Red Cross society as well as the logo of the pan-American TV network "TeleSur".

If we explore a moment the background to the significance of both of these semiotics in context, we see that he wasn't really being that predictably uppity.

We need go back to last December & what was called "operation Emmanuel" an idea suggested by Hugo Chavez and co-sponsered by the IRC and very much supported by France. It saw a air corridor opened for a brief time and then extended for a briefer time to Venezuelan (Russian made) helicopters painted in International Red Cross insignia to go into the jungle and get a baby FARC were holding. The baby's name was Emmanuel and he had born to one of Ingrid Betancourt's friends Clara Rojas whilst she was in FARC captivity. Interestingly though not the subject in hand Clara Rojas has now distanced herself from Betancourt since both were freed this year and it appears their memories and stories and biographies of what happened in the jungle & what ought be "left in the jungle" don't seem to gel or co-incide anymore.

Perhaps more of that again if such gossip press froth becomes political relevant as might be plausible in their respective future presidential, vice-presidential or senatorial careers.

Anyway - back to Clara Rojas' baby Emmanuel. Though two Russian-made MI-17 helicopters from the Venezuelan Military Search and Rescue Team had been allowed to fly into Colombia December 27, 2007 with the permission of the President of Colombia and with the International Red Cross (IRC) insignia for a humanitarian mission.

The wild goose, partridge and french hen chase ended the fifth day of last Christmas without any golden ring, promised child or high profile release. The Venezeulans and the Red Cross went home empty handed, and lots of sarcastic people who know Christmas carols in which baby jesus gets called Emanuel went really sarcastic on poor old Hugo - and then the Colombians feeling the spirit which was in it let them have another go at it.

Then a wonderfully odd thing occured just like a Dicken's Christmas movie but obviously not the Dicken's Christmas tale with the chains and ghosts.

The baby they were looking for in the jungle had been in a Colombian state orphanage all along, or well since 2005 and the Colombians finally released DNA evidence to prove his identity on January 4th or the tenth day of Christmas (which as you know if you study hymn sheets is the day the lords go a leaping).

A week later Clara Rojas his mammy was released, again through the International Red Cross but everyone in France and Venezuela had taken down their Xmas decorations and didn't really get excited enough to up the % percentage points of their respective leaders Chavez & Sarkozy.

some BBC coverage from the time

The Red Cross symbol has been subverted and mis-used many times. It would seem hyperbole in this Colombian context to remind readers of its use by the SS to disguise gas chambers using Zyklon B and even the vans to transport the gas - save that no reminder of the Holocaust and the examples it set may be considered hyberbole. Rather they are the outermost dilineations of "the rules".

& so we should remember that the Red Cross as the Red Crescent have "rules" attached. We can not allow ourselves to excuse the Colombians for delivering Betancourt on the 2321st day of her capitivity to arrive in Paris on what would have been the 2323rd day of her capitivity to celebrate the independence day of the USA from breaking the rules of the Red Cross.

Telly logos are something else.

But the fact that the Colombians chose to use the Telesur logo as part of their very cinematic rescue operation of Betancourt is an interesting choice. We may remember that of the 11 prominent civilians indicted for "farcopolitics" in Spring time one of them was a "TeleSur" journalist. & We could also remember that Colombia's release of the news of Tirofijo's death seemed to come from keeping tabs on TeleSur.

(c/f & in particular the 6th update comment

I ruefully admit to trying to be the last person standing defiantly on a riot scene in Barcelona a few years ago by dint of 2 magical weapons of heavy duty trump card nature. A pretty and expensively dressed Japanese partner and one flourescent jacket on which I had quite convincingly stenciled "BBC". Alas, once the cops get going - they get going. & though it was a long time coming I did eventually get a rubber bullet fired in my general direction. But the lesson was learnt. & I pass it on to you. Of course it might not work in all societies. I very much doubt an expensively dressed Japanese partner would have counted for much at the last g8 but a well faked BBC flourescent jacket is time well spent and space well used in any activists kitbag. Except of course if you live in BBC land, which come to think of it, many of you do. I'd suggest a TVE or CNN logo in that case. Heck be different, wear a FOX NEWS jacket and a wig. ;-)


A news bonus for Colombia / Venezuela watchers is a "Wikileak" from last week which is a copy of a letter from Venezuela to Colombia to protest a troop incursion in May at.
Coordinates: 7º 2' 12,5" N, 72º 2' 6,4" W or 800 metres inside the place.


Link to TeleSur reporting on Chavez's "Hola Presidente!" program :-
last article on Hugo Chavez :-
"It all ends with a T-shirt - Chavez & the King of Spain hug & make up."