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Συντάχθηκε απο τον/την Χρήστος Μπούμπουλης (Christos Boumpoulis)   
Παρασκευή, 30 Ιανουάριος 2015 20:38


Ingrid Betancourt Pulecio (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈinɡɾið βetaŋˈk(o)ur(t)]; born 25 December 1961) is a Colombian politician, former senator and anti-corruption activist. Betancourt was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on 23 February 2002 and was rescued by Colombian security forces six and a half years later on 2 July 2008. The rescue operation, dubbed Operation Jaque, rescued Betancourt along with 14 other hostages (three United States citizens and eleven Colombian policemen and soldiers). In all, she was held captive for six years after being taken while campaigning for the Colombian presidency as a Green. She had decided to campaign in the former "zone of distention", after the military operation "Tanatos" was launched, and after the zone was declared free of guerrillas by the government. Her kidnapping received worldwide coverage, particularly in France, where she also held citizenship due to her prior marriage to a French diplomat.

She has received multiple international awards, such as the Légion d'honneur. In 2008 she received the Concord Prince of Asturias Award. After her release, she was portrayed by some of her fellow captives as 'controlling and manipulative'; others described her as a person with a caring and courageous nature. One of them (Luis Eladio Perez) claims Betancourt saved his life.


Betancourt was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, a former beauty queen famous for sheltering abandoned children, served in Congress representing poor southern neighborhoods of Bogotá. Her father, Gabriel Betancourt, was a minister of Education in both liberal and conservative governments (President Rojas Pinilla, President Lleras Restrepo), the assistant director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), then ambassador of Colombia to UNESCO in Paris, and head of the education commission of the Alliance for Progress in Washington, D.C. under John F. Kennedy.

After attending private school in France, a boarding school in England as well as the Liceo Francés in Bogotá, Betancourt attended the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (commonly known as Sciences Po). She is currently a doctoral student in theology at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

After graduating, Betancourt married French citizen Fabrice Delloye in 1983, and they had two children, Mélanie (born 1985) and Lorenzo (born 1988). Through her marriage she became a French citizen. Her husband served in the French diplomatic corps, and the couple lived in multiple countries, including Ecuador, the Seychelles and the United States of America.

In the mid-1990s, Betancourt and Delloye divorced. Betancourt went back to Colombia and became advisor to the Minister of Finance, and later to the Minister of Foreign Trade. In 1994 She was elected to the House of Representatives on an anti-corruption ticket, and in 1998 she entered the Colombian Senate. Her children Melanie and Lorenzo moved to New Zealand to live with their father due to death threats stemming from her political activities.

She married Colombian advertising executive, Juan Carlos Lecompte in 1997. Their marriage ended soon after her 2008 rescue.


Most candidates for political office visited the former DMZ. When Betancourt announced her trip, the government confirmed that a security escort would accompany her from Florencia to San Vicente del Caguan. When she landed at Florencia's airport, she was offered to be transported to San Vicente del Caguan in a military helicopter. This offer was retracted later on, at the same time her body guards received the order to cancel their mission. President Pastrana and other officials explained they had turned down the helicopter ride offer, arguing that this meant rendering public resources to Betancourt's private political interests. Betancourt stated that as a presidential candidate, the government had, under constitutional provisions, the mandatory obligation to protect any Colombian running for presidency.

When denied transport aboard a military helicopter that was heading to the zone, she then went back to the original plan to head into the DMZ via ground transport, together with Clara Rojas, her campaign manager who was later named running-mate for the 2002 election, and a handful of political aides. On 23 February 2002, she was stopped at the last military checkpoint before going into the former DMZ. Military officers have reported they insisted in stopping her car and that Betancourt dismissed their warnings and continued her journey. This allegations contradicts the testimony of Adair Lamprea who was driving the car. He insists traffic was normal and that the military officers at the check point asked for their ID, but did not try to stop them. This is corroborated by the fact that on the FARC blockroad where Betancourt was kidnapped, other vehicles were stopped, including a Red Cross fourwheel drive car, and a bus, thus proving normal traffic. According to her kidnapper, the later captured Nolberto Uni Vega, Betancourt ended up at a FARC checkpoint where she was kidnapped. Her kidnap was never planned beforehand, said the rebel. Íngrid still appeared on the ballot for the presidential elections; her husband promised to continue her campaign. She achieved less than 1% of the votes.

Betancourt stated in an NPR interview that the government did offer to fly her, but later reneged and took away her flight, and then took away her bodyguards. She also stated she was never warned that it would be dangerous to travel by road, that checkpoints let her through with no warning nor attempt to stop her, and that the government encouraged her to travel by road.


On 2 July 2008, Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos called a press conference to announce the rescue of Betancourt and 14 other captives. The operation that won their release, codenamed "Jaque" (Spanish for "check" as in checkmate), included members of the Colombian military intelligence who infiltrated local FARC squads and the secretariat of FARC, according to Santos. The FARC members in charge of the hostages were persuaded to accept a request from headquarters to gather the hostages together, supposedly to be flown to FARC chief Alfonso Cano. Instead, they were flown by government personnel dressed as FARC members to San José del Guaviare. No one was harmed during the rescue. Three American Northrop Grumman contractors, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes, were among those released.

Colombian military agents spent months planting themselves within FARC, gaining the members' trust, and joining the leadership council. Other agents were assigned to guard the hostages. Using their authority in the group, the agents ordered the hostages moved from three different locations to a central area. From this point, the hostages, agents, and about 60 real FARC members made a 90-mile march through the jungle to a spot where, agents told the FARC members, an "international mission" was coming to check on the hostages. On schedule, an unmarked white helicopter set down and Colombian security forces posing as FARC members jumped out. They told the FARC members that they would take the hostages to the meeting with the "international mission." All of the captives were handcuffed and placed aboard the helicopter, along with two of their FARC guards, who were quickly disarmed and subdued after the helicopter lifted off. According to Betancourt, a crew member then turned and told the 15 hostages, "We are the national military. You are free." Tracking technology was used by the rescuers to zero in on their target.

On 16 July 2008 it became public that one of the Colombian officials was misusing a Red Cross emblem during the rescue operation.

Life after the rescue

Betancourt received the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) shortly after her rescue and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in October 2008. She also met with international heads of state and international personalities such as Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Pope Benedict XVI, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina.

In 2009, she signed with Gallimard to write her memoirs.

Her memoir was published on 21 September 2010 after fifteen months of writing, and is titled Même le silence a une fin (Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle); it mainly describes her ordeal as a hostage of Colombian guerrillas. The book was praised as an "extraordinary adventure story", expressing her anguish in a poetic way. It was compared to the greatest authors; "just think of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and The Gulag Archipelago or novelists like Dumas and Arthur Koestler" writes Larry Rohter in the New York Times Book review.

Betancourt filed for divorce in 2009.

Compensation request

In June 2010, Betancourt requested to the Colombian justice, as other Colombian hostages previously did, a monetary compensation under the provision of Colombian victim of terrorism protection law. She presented her request on the grounds of having been victim of a lack of protection when her escorts were dismissed on the 23rd Feb 2002, which facilitated being kidnapped by rebels. The Colombian government said she was attacking in court the soldiers that had liberated her in 2008. Colombian vice president Francisco Santos said that the "lawsuit" deserved a "world prize for greed, ungratefulness and gall".

A few days after the news of the request had broken, and public indignation was added to the government's, Betancourt's lawyer Gabriel Devis, said that the focus had to be on the "protection mechanisms the Colombian state offers to its citizens" and that nobody was attacking any soldier. He stressed that the former hostage was "deeply grateful" to "the armed forces and all those who in one way or another risked their lives to free the hostages."

Betancourt withdrew her claim for compensation expressing her indignation at the way in which her undertaking had been distorted and the public opinion manipulated. She had suffered what she called a 'public lapidation as if she was a criminal'.



Probably, it takes a lot of courage, compassion, humanness and empathy for becoming anti-corruption activist.

The burden for making our world just a little better place to live, usually, is not distributed equally to every shoulder.

For restoring a rational, peaceful, just and intelligent way for resolving all the small and large troubles of life, we may have to keep "enlisted", each and every occurrence of rationality, of peacefulness, of justice and of creative intelligence.

Then, why our world is so irrational, violent, unjust and unintelligent?

Probably, because most of the people, instead of, Loving and Serving they much prefer, getting and forgetting.

How frequently we turn our sight the other way, when we notice, violence, torture, slavery, unfreedom, injustice, etc. being exercised against our fellow human beings?

Both our active choices, as well as, our passive negligence are generating their autonomous consequences. Therefore, the dynamic properties of our world may become defined by our own, discrete and collective choices and negligence.


Ingratitude's a weed of every clime. It thrives too fast at first, but fades in time.
[Sir Samuel Garth]


Probably, undertaking, willingly, the personal responsibility for our truly voluntary choices and negligence, is the “royal” road for achieving, wisdom, peace, freedom, friendship and frugal prosperity.

Note: the photos were found here and here.


Τελευταία Ενημέρωση στις Κυριακή, 22 Φεβρουάριος 2015 02:30