Guerrillas Request Further Mediation from Mauss Couple
Wochenspiegel, 07.10.1998, Mario Zender
ELN wants support for the peace process to be continued by the new Schroeder government / ELN number two Garcia spoke to
District. “With regard to the ELN we did everything in our power in order to make sure that Senator Espinosa Fasciollince was returned safe and sound.” Werner Mauss (57), the legendary secret agent from the Hunsrück area, was the man in the background pulling the strings from Germany that led to the release of a high-ranking hostage in Colombia a few days ago.
Senator Carlos Espinosa, who currently has responsibility for peace affairs and is a former president of the Colombian Congress, had been kidnapped and held in the jungle by the ELN (National Liberation Army). The ELN claimed the hostage taking was justified by the need to bring an end to the massacres (408 massacres in nine months with over 1,600 murdered) and for the government to put a stop to the death squads operated by the military.
The ELN, trusting the negotiating skills and experience as well as the commitment of Werner Mauss, made a request to the Colombian government to have him appointed to lead the negotiations.
As a result of this, Colombian President Pastrana asked the German government for help. Chancellery minister Schmidbauer then called Mauss, at home in Hunsrück, to ask for his help in obtaining the release of the hostage.
Mauss immediately agreed. We asked the agent why he was so keen? “My wife and I have become very fond of Colombia and especially of the Colombian people. The country needs to find peace after all this time. Massacres are carried out there on an almost daily basis, you cannot imagine the brutality and inhumanity of the slaughter that goes on.”
The man who was once more used to putting dangerous criminals behind bars has, since 1996, been involved in an equally dangerous special peace mission in Colombia. The past few weeks have seen intensive negotiations between the guerrillas and government to try to bring about the release of the kidnapped senator. After only eight weeks, a very short time by Colombian standards, they reached a successful conclusion with the release of the hostage.
Mauss (57) directed the release and hand-over of the senator via a radio link. The freed hostage, exhausted but overjoyed, fell into the arms of his waiting brother. Mauss (I think about the devastation that the massacres cause amongst the civilian population) worked together with the ELN and the president’s peace negotiator, Victor G. Ricardo on a 14-point peace plan which has since been signed by the Colombian government. Within the terms of this plan, the conflicting parties are to reach agreement on an end to the massacres carried out by so-called death squads, the massacres of the military are to be investigated and those responsible brought to trial. In response, the ELN has committed itself to a cessation of its kidnapping activities. As a first gesture of goodwill, the ELN allowed the kidnapped senator to go free. Agent Mauss stresses that, following four-day negotiations with Victor G. Ricardo in Germany, the Colombian government has assured him that it will respect the terms of the 14-point agreement. On the basis of Mauss’s negotiations the WOCHENSPIEGEL was able to talk with the ELN second-in-command Antonio Garcia last week. Garcia talked of the ELN’s hopes with regard to the new German government. “We are hoping that the new Chancellor, Herr Schroeder, will continue to lend support to the peace plan.”
The ELN number two praised the excellent handling of the negotiations as well as the support given by Werner Mauss and his wife Ida (37). During the 45-minute talk he also describes the horrific details of the massacres. “Dissidents are dragged from their homes by paramilitaries and murdered, their bodies riddled by machinegun bullets or they are hacked down with sugarcane machetes.” The inhuman, barbaric acts of the paramilitaries are comparable with the crimes committed by the Nazis in Germany.
And, as he reaches the end of his interview with the WOCHENSPIEGEL, he adds: “We need the help of Germany. Your politicians must put pressure on the Colombian government so that human rights are finally respected here. Without international pressure nothing will change here and many innocent people will lose their lives,“ concluded the ELN number two, Antonio Garcia.
The agent couple from the Hunsrück area are determined to carry on with their efforts towards peace: “If the feeling is that we can do something to help the peace process then we are ready and willing to do so….”
By courtesy of the Wochenspiegel SW publishers www.wochenspiegellive.de