Jake & Rubén | USA & Colombia

By Gene "Jake" Jacobs, member of PTPI's Greater Kansas City, Missouri Chapter

“The alarming news came from the remote jungle in Colombia’s Chocó province. Marxist terrorists had kidnapped Gen. Rubén Alzate. The anxiety experienced by his family in Bogotá was shared by several members of the Greater Kansas City Chapter.

The connection between the chapter and Alzate began in 2004 when he, his wife, Claudia Farfan, and their son and daughter arrived at Fort Leavenworth to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Upon arrival, they were affiliated with a Kansas City family as part of the chapter’s sponsorship program.

More than 100 such officer and family assignments are fulfilled by GKCPTP sponsors each year. Chapter members strive to expand the visitors’ cultural enrichment experience, which provides for tremendous international enlightenment for all parties involved. In many cases, the year-long sponsorship often becomes a life-long, familial relationship.

In the case of the Alzates, the GKCPTP connection was expanded and strong bonds of friendship were forged when a chapter delegation visited Bogotá in 2012.

When General Alzate was assigned to command the newly created Titan task force in Chocó in 2014, he was determined to reshape the perception of military officers in Colombia. He committed the majority of his resources to developing stronger relations with poor communities like Chocó, where 81 percent of the population lives in poverty. He was on a humanitarian mission to a remote local village when he and two traveling companions were taken at gunpoint.

An exhausting two-week trek through jungle terrain accompanied by life-threatening taunts finally ended when negotiations achieved his release and return to his anxious wife and family. Far to the north, members of his extended PTPI family joined in celebration. Rubén retired from military service and is currently employed as a consultant to the Military Academy in Bogotá.”