Hostages and humanity in Bogota

Now that the Bogota hostages have been released, an extraordinary human situation can be contemplated along with all the diplomatic questions that are not yet clear. Somehow it appears that good faith was felt by the bargainers for both the captors and the hostages. There was talk of growth in human understanding.

Money changed hands. International monitoring of the trials of political prisoners was assured. But there was no giving in to the demand that, contrary to Colombian law, prisoners be released before going on trial.

Firmness combined with patience appeared to have made the best of a dangerous situation. We don't know yet how much was due to the issues and how much to the makeup of the captors and the authorities they defied.

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We do know that some fine and useful human qualities were expressed in ways that, by all accounts, lightened the ordeal. United States Ambassador Asencio, for example, is said to have used both humor and seriousness in refuting the arguments of the guerrillas about his country's "imperialism." He assiduously worked at crossword puzzles to pass some of his own time. And he sought to alleviate other captives' bouts of depression. In some eyes this made him "aggressively good-natured." Obviously to be good-natured is one thing that can be done "aggressively" in support of international law rather than in violation of it.

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