Ingrid Betancourt arrived in Colombia Saturday afternoon for her first
visit since she left the country in July. The visit wasn’t announced
until the morning when she already was on board the plane from France.
“It would not be
surprising” for Betancourt to visit Bogota, said Herve Marro, head of a
support group in Colombia. “But if she does, she will not stay very
long due to security concerns,” he added.
Betancourt, 46, who
holds dual Colombian and French citizenship, flew to France with her
family three weeks after her release on July 2.
stay in the Colombian capital, she will “take a tour of Latin America,”
members of her entourage in Paris said, declining to provide a detailed
The Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2002, when
she was taken hostage, Betancourt presented a committee of supporters
her plans for a human rights foundation. A committee official said her
Latin American visit was intended to promote the project.
media said it was possible Betancourt would meet before leaving Bogota
with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whom she thanked publicly after
her release for having ordered her rescue mission.
edition of Brazil’s O Globo daily said Betancourt would meet with
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in Sao Paulo on Friday.
visit to Colombia comes 24 hours after tens of thousands marched in
France, Spain and across Colombia demanding the release of hostages
still being held by the FARC, Latin America’s largest and oldest
Betancourt headed a demonstration in Madrid alongside Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
was rescued along with 14 other hostages on July 2 in a daring
operation by army commandos that tricked their Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel captors into thinking they were
delivering their captives to the Red Cross.
Betancourt was rescued together with two US contractors and eleven members of the Colombian armed forces.
is still believed to be holding between 350 and 700 hostages, including
28 so-called “political hostages” that the rebels want to swap for
about 500 imprisoned guerrillas.
While tens of thousands marched
in some 200 Colombian cities on Friday to demand the release of
thousands of hostages held by FARC and other rebel and criminal groups
in the country, the demonstrations were far less numerous than in July
20, when some four million Colombians turned out to voice outrage at
the ongoing hostage situation.
The low turnout on Friday was in
part blamed on the ill feelings many Colombians have toward Betancourt
for leaving their country so soon after her rescue.
deeply for her six years of captivity, but she’s using the (hostage)
issue as a political platform,” Oscar Morales, the founder of the “One
Million Voices Against FARC” movement founder, told El Tiempo