Hers is a nightmare that will not fade quickly: six years in the
jungles of Colombia as a hostage of leftist rebels. Ingrid Betancourt
says little by little, she is getting on with her life and hopes to
exorcise her demons by writing.
“Starting next year, I am going to isolate myself completely to be
able to write. It will be the best way to help myself. It is a duty to
give testimony with a constructive spirit,” Betancourt told The
Associated Press in an interview Thursday.
“If I am able to do it, I am going to write a book about my kidnapping,” she said.
Betancourt — running for president when the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia, or FARC, took her captive in 2002 — ruled out
running again for that office. She also avoided any talk of revenge
against her former captors.
Colombia’s military freed the dual Colombian-French citizen in July
along with 14 other hostages in a daring, covert rescue operation.
Betancourt spoke in Oviedo, a northern city where she will receive a
humanitarian award Friday from a foundation named for Crown
Betancourt, 46, is being honored in a category that honors those who
work for peace or fight poverty, injustice or disease, or otherwise
endeavor to help mankind.
When the jury announced the prize in September, it hailed Betancourt
as “a world symbol of freedom and human resistance in the face of the
toughest adversities.” It added, “Her fight for democracy has been a
hopeful example of dignity and bravery for the whole world.”
In the interview, Betancourt recalled how the year of her release
began: with a march to a pretty area of the jungle and a rebel camp
“that I am not going to forget.”
“I ended up standing by a river, and I thought that if I started off
the year looking at a river, it could only bring me good things. And
the river brought me here,” she said.
Her immediate goal is to work for the release of hundreds of other
hostages still held by the FARC. Thus, politics does not interest her.
“It is not in my plans and I do not think it is important. One can get a lot done from other realms,” Betancourt said.
For now, she cannot go back to Colombia because of death threats, but longs to return as soon as possible.
“We know there are contracts out to kill us, and that the FARC want
to recapture all the people who were freed in July because they
consider us fugitives,” said Betancourt, who now lives in France.
As she often has since her release, Betancourt said she does not
seek revenge against her captors and favors dialogue and reconciliation
to end Colombia’s decades-old guerrilla war.
She described the rebel army as being in disarray: leaderless and
increasingly radical to keep its ranks in line, and doomed as a
legitimate advocate of leftist political ideology so long as it holds
Betancourt hinted she does not believe Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is the man to negotiate peace in their country.
“I am speaking from the heart. I think negotiating can be
constructive for my country. I hope that is understood and will allow
others to pursue this path,” she said. (AP)