Former candidate, FARC hostage, Betancourt ignores public hostility in second presidential bid

That former presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt would even consider returning to politics after surviving more than six years in a jungle prison, only to be vilified by the Colombian public seems beyond belief.

Free Ingrid Betancourt

(Photo credit: The support for Ingrid Betancourt while she was held captive by the FARC transformed into hostility after her release.

But that´s exactly what she´s doing. Betancourt announced this week she is in the running for the Colombian Green Alliance presidential candidacy.

After being kidnapped by FARC guerrillas during the 2002 presidential campaign, Betancourt somehow survived more than six horrific years in a jungle prison. Pictures of her near death´s door and reports that she had resigned herself to this fate touched the Colombian people, despite the number of similar tragic stories Colombians had become accustomed to hearing.

The outpouring of love and elation that accompanied her liberation in a dramatic military rescue quickly hardened into a twisted hostility towards the former hostage.

Opinion polls published this week show the Colombian public hasn´t softened its feelings for Betancourt, a member of one of Colombia´s privileged upper class.

The poll found some 75 per cent of Colombians know Betancourt, but it also found some 70 per cent have a negative opinion of the once popular presidential candidate.

Two persons competing for the right to represent the Green Alliance in next year´s presidential elections fared somewhat better in the polls.

Former M-19 guerrilla Antonio Navarro is known by 74 per cent of Colombians, but 54 per cent of Colombians were said to have a negative impression of him.

Former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa was known by 72 per cent of Colombians and 51 per cent of them said they have a negative opinion of him.

The reasons behind Betanourt´s public downfall are well known.

Her bitter divorce with her husband after her liberation soured many. There were claims she had an affair with a fellow captive. But there were also claims he had an affair with a reporter during her captivity.

Others blamed her for not doing enough to support other lesser known captives and questioned why Betancourt so quickly left Colombia for France, where she also holds citizenship.

Others were outraged that she dared sue the Colombian government for more than $6.5 million in damages. She alleged her kidnapping could easily have been prevented, and suggested that her political popularity discouraged some politicians from working for her release. Betancourt dropped the civil action.

She has also praised current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, both for his role in her rescue (when he was Colombia’s minister of defence) and for his peace initiative with her former captors.

For more information please read, in English:

And, in Spanish:


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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Former candidate, FARC hostage, Betancourt ignores public hostility in second presidential bid”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    Thanks for keeping us updated. I can’t help thinking Betancourt would be ‘more of the same’.

    • Connecting Colombias says :

      I feel similarly. Whether she is committed to making Colombia a better place is difficult to determine. Thank you again for reading and for your comments. Hope you are well and your adventures continue. I always enjoy and learn something interesting from your posts on colombiadiaries.

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