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Freed American Blasts Colombia's FARC Rebels

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Freed American Blasts Colombia's FARC Rebels

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Freed American Blasts Colombia's FARC Rebels

Freed American Blasts Colombia's FARC Rebels

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One of three men freed last week from rebels in Colombia called his captors "terrorists with a capital 'T.'" Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell spent more than five years as hostages of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

In San Antonio, Texas, today, three Americans who were rescued in Colombia after more than five years of captivity made their first public comments. They were freed last week in a daring and imaginative jungle rescue. The men were taken hostage in 2003 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces, better known as the FARC.

And today, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports, the Americans had some pointed and angry words for their former captors.

WADE GOODWYN: The three men looked thin, aged and a bit weathered, but their joy nevertheless shone through like a light. Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves were celebrated at a ceremony at Fort Sam Houston that involved much surreptitious wiping of tears. Gonsalves was still filled with wonder.

NORRIS: There was a time that when I slept, I would dream that I was free. That time was only a few days ago. It feels so good to be free here now.

GOODWYN: The rescue is a public relations triumph for the Colombian government and a disaster for the rebels who appeared divided and disorganized. Former hostage Gonsalves was full of thanks.

NORRIS: And especially to the very brave men and women of the Colombian army who executed that very daring and what I would think is probably the most perfect rescue that has ever executed in the history of the world. It was for me.

GOODWYN: While Gonsalves felt gratitude to the Colombian government, he had scorn for the rebels. He described his captors' cruelty to the hostages, and he mocked the guerrillas' rhetoric about building a better, more democratic Colombia while they acted like bullies.

NORRIS: The FARC are not a revolutionary group. They are terrorists, terrorists with a capital T. A guerrilla group who claim to be revolutionaries, fighting for the poor people of Colombia. They say that they want equality. They say that they just want to make Colombia a better place. But that's all a lie.

GOODWYN: But eventually, the anger gave way to an overwhelming happiness that could not be held back. Keith Stansell's statements revealed he was already thinking to his life ahead.

NORRIS: Thank you very much. And to Governor Crist of the great state of Florida: Sir, I don't have a driver's license, how am I going to get home?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GOODWYN: The closer Keith Stansell and his family get to Florida, the better the jungle of Colombia will look in his rear-view mirror.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News.

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