Ingrid Betancourt on Sunday defended her decision to ask the Colombian State for multi-million dollar compensation for the six years she spent in FARC captivity.
The French-Colombian politician appeared on Colombian radio and television to explain the claim that has been met with anger by the Colombian government and army and a wave of indignation by the general public.
Betancourt admitted that the $6.5 million she demands is “astronomic and absurd,” but said that it is “symbolic” and will serve to “support the families of kidnap victims.”
Her claim is not meant to be against the government of Alvaro Uribe, Betancourt stressed. “This is in no way a claim or attack against the government that rescued me. I owe so much to president Uribe, who together with the armed forces got me out of the claws of the FARC. The only ones responsible for my kidnapping are the FARC.”
Betancourt also dismissed claims that her own irresponsibility had allowed the FARC to take her hostage. The politician also denied having signed a paper declaring that she would assume all responsibility for her action in driving into FARC-controlled territory. “The only document me and Clara Rojas signed was insurance for the vehicle that was state property.”
“I was not and am not irresponsible. The decision I took was based on the information I had received. I never wanted them to kidnap me, but they took away my bodyguards, they left me unprotected,” Betancourt said.
“The only thing I seek is that this doesn’t happen again,” Betancourt said.
According to the former hostage, she had been told that the security situation on the road was “nothing new” and she took the decision to drive to San Vicente de Caguan as part of her campaign for the 2002 presidency.
“It took me two years to expose these facts, looking for a prudent way, with testimonials and the help of my lawyers. I want Colombians to understand the manipulation of the government that took away my bodyguards,” Betancourt said.
The former hostage said she never sought to file charges against the Colombian state, but was looking for a conciliation.