The Lives of the Hostages
Must Be the Top Priority
FOCUS 37/00, 11.09.2000
Private agent Mauss on the kidnapping industry
Focus: Do the Libyan ransom payments act as an encouragement to the kidnapping industry?
Mauss: The very obvious nature of what went on in the Philippines will send out a negative signal. But the lives of the hostages have to take priority over all other considerations. The Philippines has seen major internal social conflict over many decades. One of the reasons for this has been the economically disadvantaged position of the Muslim minority in a Catholic governed country. The countries affected by the kidnappings on Jolo were asked to solve the problem quietly and in closest cooperation with the Philippines and their neighbouring states.
Focus: The situation in Jolo seems hopeless.
Mauss: Jolo is only the tip of the iceberg and could bring other parts of South-East Asia into a similar situation. The call for military intervention in this case came much too early. We have to respect the Asian mentality and the neglect that led to the problems in Jolo and Mindanao needs to be dealt with by means of a closer cooperation among the Asiatic states – possibly with political and financial aid from Europe and the USA.
Focus: Kidnapping has become an important industry in Colombia. Why?
Mauss: Colombia’s mineral resources make it one of the richest countries in the world. Nevertheless, a large percentage of the population is living below subsistence level. The power of the cartels, drug trafficking, corruption and mismanagement have led to anarchy. There is effectively no government in large areas of the country; over 60 percent of the land area is under the control of guerrilla groups who are rebelling against the government. The kidnapping is primarily down to the country’s social problems.
Focus: In 1996 your own successes in obtaining the release of hostages were called into question in the media.
Mauss: It has been officially established that my wife and I were arrested in Medellin in 1996 due to the intrigues of a security company. The fact that we were legally acquitted of all charges was also later reported on in the press. The ruling asserts that “at no point were Herr or Frau Mauss guilty of any violation of Colombian law, their imprisonment was illegal, and that no ransom was paid”. The peace talks negotiated for by my wife and I in 1998 are the right way forward for Colombia.
By courtesy of Focus http://focus.msn.de