The 1096 days of Ingrid Betancourt
February 23, 2005 5:57 AM   Subscribe

3 years ago, Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and her campaign director Clara Rojas were kidnapped by the FARC guerrilla who now keeps 3000 hostages in the Colombian jungle (1200 more are held by the paramilitaries and other groups). Because she was a celebrity outside Colombia before her kidnapping, her detention has received a lot of attention abroad (to some people's chagrin), particularly in Europe (where she's been nominated for "citizen of honour" in more than 1000 towns) and Canada (see also this US documentary).

For the other Colombian hostages, however, the main source of support comes from the radio: Las Voces del Secuestro (Voices of the Kidnapped) is a weekly program for the relatives of hostages to send out messages to their loved ones.
posted by elgilito (12 comments total)
This explains so much. When I was walking around Paris last summer, there was this huge protest and all the signs said "Ingrid (y todos los sequestrados) Libre." I was absolutely baffled. Now I am enlightened. Gracias.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 6:23 AM on February 23, 2005

Wow, that is good info. I thought it was interesting to note, that what really set her apart, is the fact that her husband is a PR exec. He has campaigned to make her a 'hero of the people' all over Europe.

Good on him for doing whatever he can to return her to him. Can't fault him for that. It is interesting that the people she is a hero for don't see her as anything other than a career politician. ANd of course, they are also concerned with the 300 others.

Very interesting. I think I'll conduct an informal poll on the Colombians I work with, and see what their feelings are.
posted by das_2099 at 6:36 AM on February 23, 2005

ANd of course, they are also concerned with the 300 others.

300 would be a lot of kidnappings, but it's actually 3000.
posted by scottreynen at 6:53 AM on February 23, 2005

I've heard that the FARC has made life a lot better for cocaine growers, partly by banning alcohol during the week and cocaine at all times...
posted by delmoi at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2005

* Lights a Candle * for Ingrid + Clara. Dios bendiga los dos.
The continued holding of Ingrid Betancourt is murkier than it seems.
The Colombian Government does don’t want to talk about this.
The English speaking news media have completely ignored that the French Chirac government had been talking with the FARC leader Rodrigo Granda in Caracas, Venezuela, before he was kidnapped by the Colombians at the turn of the year.
The Colombian government did not appreciate this dialogue, and considered it interferance.
There may also be many vested interests in keeping Betancourt a prisoner as she probably knows where many political / corruption / narco skeletans lie.
For some background info see here
Village voice article at the time of her kidnapping and for the film, here.
posted by adamvasco at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2005

(not to be confused with fark gorillas.)
posted by blendor at 11:49 AM on February 23, 2005

300 would be a lot of kidnappings, but it's actually 3000.

i'm a little confused - why does the economist article say "In all, the FARC are thought to hold several hundred hostages" if in fact, there are 3000?
posted by blendor at 11:57 AM on February 23, 2005

i'm a little confused - why does the economist article say "In all, the FARC are thought to hold several hundred hostages" if in fact, there are 3000?

Because my initial post is just wrong... I wish I could edit it to correct that (I really should have read the figures and interviews more attentively). After some more digging around it seems that the 3000-4000 figure is an estimate of the total kidnappings. The FARC are credited with "only" 900-1000 of them.
posted by elgilito at 1:21 PM on February 23, 2005

thanks for clearing that up. still an interesting post, though.
posted by blendor at 1:57 PM on February 23, 2005

Even only 900-1000 seems like a large number of people to keep secure, fed and clothed. And away from the government or other would be rescuers
posted by billsaysthis at 4:54 PM on February 23, 2005

billsaysthis, FARC are not just some hill brigands, but the effective government in a large swath of Colombia, by government agreement in peace talks -- which have now ended, and a reoccupation is occurring. The government is on a roll, having greatly reduced the threat of the narcotics cartels, and focusing on FARC with the help of $billions from Washington. FARC knows they can't compete with that militarily (even with the sub rosa help that the Venezuelan government is constantly accused of giving them), and hostages constitute their major strategic advantage in securing concessions from the government. They want their sanctuary back, even if it's smaller.
posted by dhartung at 11:13 PM on February 23, 2005

Here's an old (2001) but good article on the whole situation in Colombia, with some interesting points about U.S. involvement via "Plan Colombia" *. I also found a photo essay by the reporter.

* Googling "Glyphosate" and "Colombia" will bring up lots of info on this particular bit of nastiness. Here's a recent article.
posted by taz at 12:04 AM on February 24, 2005

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