Office Of Multicultural Affairs

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Colombian Independence Day Marked By Recent Hostage Rescue

MIAMI -- The recent rescue of several hostages from rebels in Colombia made Sunday's celebration of Colombian Independence Day more poignant.

Colombian Independence Day celebrations in cities around the world Sunday were marked by thanksgiving for the July 2 rescue of 16 hostages from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Among the freed hostages was former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped in 2002. She celebrated Colombian independence on Sunday in Paris with singer Juanes.
In South Florida, revelers gathered at Tamiami Park to experience Colombian culture.

"It's a celebration of freedom. It's a celebration of culture. It's a celebration of being able to live in freedom and prosperity," said Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Miami.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, was in Miami on Sunday to support presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Lieberman and McCain were in Colombia on the day the rescue took place.

"I think that operation says for the future of Colombia that the rule of law is on the way back, that democracy's on the way back, that economic opportunity is on the way back," Lieberman said.

"It's obviously always a great celebration but this year, it's a little more special," Diaz Balart said.

Lieberman and McCain planned to hold a town hall meeting at the Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside at 1 p.m. Monday.

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