Page 33 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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movies,” Jones says. “Te guy really thought that one blow was
enough. I was bleeding a lot and there was an enormous ringing
in my ears, but I wasn’t knocked out. I lay still.”
At that point the pickup was threading its way slowly through
the throngs in the plaza. Some of them had seen what happened.
Jones’ guard turned away from his captive and went to the back
window of the pickup, apparently to talk to those in the cabin.
Jones seized the moment. He managed to hook his legs over the
side of the pickup and fip himself out of the fatbed and into the
Astonished passers-by helped Jones to his feet. He glanced
at the still-moving pickup and had a bad moment as the brake
lights went on. After a brief pause, the abductors apparently
decided against trying to recapture Jones, and sped away.
“Would You Care to Be Untied Now?”
People from the crowd in the plaza led Jones to a nearby
bodega and lowered him into a chair. Te proprietor gave his
surprise guest what Jones remembers as a “very welcome” shot
of cognac, and helped him place a phone call to the embassy
while the proprietor’s wife applied a towel to his bleeding head.
Soon afterward, two plainclothes police ofcers walked into
the store and asked, with exquisite courtesy, “Señor, would you
care to be untied now?”
When he was brought back to the embassy, Jones found the
mission in crisis mode. He wasn’t the only kidnap victim that
day. At almost the same time, another snatch squad had seized
Dan Mitrione, a USAID law enforcement adviser who worked
with the Uruguayan police. Brazilian consul Aloisio Mares Dias
Gomide was also kidnapped.
A week later the captors upped the pressure by seizing Dr.
Claude Fly, a USAID-sponsored agronomist. Te Tupamaros
hoped to trade their hostages for 150 prisoners held by the Uru-
guayan government, but the Uruguayan authorities refused. On
Aug. 9, 1970, the Tupamaros killed Mitrione.
Fly and the Brazilian consul spent long months in captivity,
along with the subsequently kidnapped British ambassador, but
all three were eventually freed.
On His Own
What motivated Gordon Jones to make his desperate escape
from a moving truck? “Te Department of State made no bones
about the fact that they would not ransom us if we were taken,”
he recalls. “I knew there was no point in waiting passively to be
traded for. Escape, if I could, was the best strategy.”
Between August 1968 and June 1975, 33 U.S. government
ofcials abroad were the victims of attempted or successful
kidnappings. Six of them were killed. Diplomats of many other
nationalities were also victims of politically-motivated abduc-
U.S. policy did not rule out negotiations with hostage-takers,
nor did the U.S. consistently object to prisoner releases or
ransom payments made by host governments to kidnappers of
diplomats. For instance, Brazil freed a number of prisoners to
secure the release of U.S. Ambassador C. Burke Elbrick in 1969.
However, Washington did not itself make concessions or press
other governments to do so.
After his escape became public knowledge, Jones’ assignment
to Uruguay was curtailed, and he was transferred to Mexico. He
rose through the Foreign Service and was economic counselor at
four embassies before retiring.
Jones now lives in Florida, but commutes to Washington from
time to time to work on an intermittent basis declassifying docu-
ments for the department.
Two plainclothes police ofcers walked into the store and
asked, with exquisite courtesy, “Señor, would you care to be
untied now?”