Posts Tagged ‘Colombia’

Ingrid Betancourt is finally free!

July 6, 2008

I  was deeply moved this week when I heard Ingrid Betancourt had finally been liberated by the Colombian army among 14 other persons including 3 Americans. I’ve always had the deepest respect for this woman who fought for her country risking her life for her convictions.  

When she was liberated on Wednesday, July 2nd, she had almost spent 6 years and a half in captivity in the jungle after being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, in February 2002. She was then running as a candidate in the Colombian presidential election.  

Ingrid Betancourt is famous in France for several reasons. Born in Colombia she was raised in France and became a citizen through marriage. After her divorce she moved back to Colombia where she started later on a political carrier fighting against corruption in a very “Joan of Arc way”.  She received many death threats and had to send her two children away to protect their lives. When she was kidnapped, a committee for her liberation was organized in France and her portrait was applied on the front of Paris City Hall where it stayed until she brought it down herself on July 4th, just a few days ago. She was also made a Citizen of Honor by the City of Paris.  

Also, in 2001 she wrote a book about her convictions and her hopes for Colombia called ‘La rage au coeur’ later translated under the title ‘Until Death Do US Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia’. The book was published in France as Colombian publishers refused it. It became a best seller and made her famous to the French audience.

Being a journalist and a feminist I already knew about her. She had such a passion for her country and was so convincing that I read her book in just a few days. Yes, she definitely was a modern Joan of Arc. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to know what this woman is made of: courage, strength, abnegation, sacrifice and endless convictions. In France, some use the words ‘hero’ and ‘icon’ about her.

Now that Ingrid is free and reunited with her children and family I wonder what her destiny will be. My feeling is that the media coverage she received during her captivity made her more famous than she was before being kidnapped. It seems like she was not very appreciated in her country where some people thought she was only trying to advertise herself. She was also considered as a foreigner because of the many years she had lived abroad. Therefore she achieved less than 1% of the votes in the election she ran for in 2002. It is maybe the paradox of this tragic story: it took her kidnapping to make her more appreciated in her own country.

Whatever her next step is, may life be sweet to her from now on.

PS: Her amazing story is already moving forward. The President of Chili just recently recommended her for the Nobel Peace Price. Also Ingrid said to the press she was thinking about writing a play about her experience.

Should you wish to read more about her, there is a Wikipedia page on Ingrid Betancourt: