- Agricultural Communicators in Education
The ordeal of Tom and Susan Hargrove inspired the Warner Bros movie Proof of Life, starring Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, David Morse, and David Caruso. Tom, a native Texan, was kidnapped by Colombian narco-guerrillas of FARC–the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, the main terrorist and drug group in Latin America–at a roadblock on his way to work, and held hostage high in the Andes for 11 months. He kept, and smuggled out, a secret diary that became the book Long March to Freedom—-which led to the movie.
The Vietnam veteran was kept in chains, under incredibly harsh conditions, while his wife Susan, with professional kidnap negotiators, bartered for his freedom. Kidnapping is a huge industry, especially in Latin America, but the press seldom reports it. Most of the hostage negotiation process itself is kept secret. Hargrove has spoken, for the past 5 years, on kidnapping, survival, and terrorism for the military, security firms, K&R (kidnap and ransom) insurance underwriters, and government agencies.
Tom Hargrove is one of the few victims who will talk about the experience, and explain the K&R industry, from the inside. Tom and Susan have been featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes (with Mike Wallace); 48 Hours; in Vanity Fair; on the Discovery Channel, Fox Files, and ABC’s 20/20. Hargrove has also testified on kidnapping, drugs, and Colombian narco-guerrillas before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations.
But speaking about kidnapping isn’t Hargrove’s profession. He is an international agricultural communication specialist who became involved in rice as an Army lieutenant during the Vietnam War. He was active in the Green Revolution for the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, for 19 years. He then joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, also started by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, based in Colombia.
Hargrove, holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees. His B.S. is a double degree in agricultural science and journalism from Texas A&M. In 1997, Hargrove became the first honoree in Texas A&M’s new Journalism Hall of Honor. Hargrove received the ACE Professional Award, the highest award for a single agricultural journalist by Agricultural Communicators in Education. Hargrove has authored feature articles, scripts, research papers, and books.