In a solemn ceremony held at the Casa de Nariño, President Gustavo Petro decorated the soldiers and indigenous individuals who were part of the rescue group for the children lost in the Amazon jungle.
The event was attended by the Head of State and the Minister of Defense, Iván Velásquez. It aimed to recognize all those who participated in the so-called Operation Esperanza, which had a worldwide media impact and ended with great success.
40 days lost in the jungle
The story is well-known and has traveled around the world: on May 1st, the plane carrying four children, their mother, indigenous leader Yarupari Herman Mendoza Hernández, and the pilot Hernando Murcia Hernández, crashed in a remote location near Solano (Caquetá) in the jungle.
The four adults lost their lives in the accident, and their bodies were found by rescuers a few days later. However, there was no trace of the children, which led to a massive rescue operation involving 350 soldiers and indigenous people.
After forty days of uncertainty and a false announcement, the children were miraculously found safe and sound. They had walked approximately 20 kilometers from the crash site. The rescuers covered a distance of 2,656 kilometers with the help of dogs and helicopters until they finally located the four siblings, who belong to the Muinane ethnic group and the Uitoto people.
The dog Wilson, present at the ceremony
Another protagonist of Operation Esperanza was the dog named Wilson, who ended up getting lost in the jungle. It was the little dog who first found the four children before the soldiers and indigenous people reached them. Unfortunately, Wilson got lost and, despite weeks of searching, the animal was eventually considered missing.
However, Wilson was remembered at today’s recognition ceremony. Drugia, the dog’s own mother, received the medal on behalf of the country’s most famous dog.
A reason for unity in the country
Everyone seems to agree that this successful operation with a happy ending has brought about a sense of unity rarely seen in Colombia. President Petro highlighted this today, saying, “This means that we understand ourselves as a nation, without any exclusions, with a common objective: to seek and preserve ‘life,’ so that the new generations do not leave us on boats and planes because they do not want to set foot in this, the country of beauty, and cannot find dignity here.”
Petro concluded his speech by urging Colombian society to reach “fundamental agreements” around the defense of life and the most vulnerable, such as children and the elderly.