Former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt praised the Colombia army’s rescue of four FARC captives and urged those who remain imprisoned by the rebel organization not to lose hope of being liberated.
Betancourt, speaking from Paris in a phone interview with Caracol Radio, said she felt excited at the success of “Operation Chameleon,” in which a team of 300 Colombian soldiers successfully rescued four hostages being held by the FARC in a remote jungle camp.
The former hostage, who was rescued by the Colombian military in a similar operation, said “I was sure that another mission like ‘Operation Checkmate’ wouldn’t be possible because that operation was very special, but I did have the hope that there would be another type of completely different operation, very creative, very original, that would allow us to rescue the rest of our comrades.”
The rescued hostages General Mendieta, Colonel Murillo, Colonel Donato and Sergeant Arbey Argote are reported to be in good mental health, but are being treated for skin lesions and malaria. After spending 12 years in the jungle as FARC hostages, they will receive one year of psychological counseling to help them reintegrate back into society.
Betancourt was kidnapped by the FARC on February 23, 2002, and rescued, along with eleven Colombian soldiers and three Americans, in the Colombian military’s daring “Operation Checkmate” in July 2008. She now lives in her home country, France.