Profile: Ingrid Betancourt

Al Jazeera profiles the French-Colombian politician held captive by Farc rebels.

Ingrid Betancourt

Betancourt appeared frail in the most
recent video of her captivity [AFP]

Ingrid Betancourt was one of the most high profile captives held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), before her release in a Colombian military operation in July 2008.

A former Colombian presidential candidate and staunch critic of the Farc, which has been fighting the government since the 1960’s, she was abducted in February 2002 by the group while campaigning in San Vicente, in the south of the country.

While Colombia led efforts to secure Betancourt’s freedom, France had also sought her release, due to her French citizenship.

Held captive with about 40 other people, the Farc had said Betancourt would only be released if the Colombian government agrees to free hundreds of jailed Farc members.
Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s president, had said that imprisoned Farc members must renounce their support for the organisation before their release can be considered.

Anti-corruption politician

Betancourt was born in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, on 25 December 1961 to Gabriel Betancourt, a diplomat, and Yolanda Pulecio, who went on to serve in Colombia’s congress.

Ingrid’s early years were spent in Paris, where her father worked, but she studied in boarding schools in France, England and Bogota.

She became a French citizen after marrying Fabrice Delloye, a French diplomat. She had two children, Melanie and Lorenzo, before the marriage ended in divorce.

Betancourt become actively involved in Colombian politics after returning to the country in 1989.

She came to prominence amid her campaigns against drug cartels and political corruption, and was first elected to the chamber of representatives in 1994.

She subsequently formed the Green Oxygen Party, eventually becoming a senator in 1998.

Health concerns
Betancourt had appeared in several videos during her period of capture by the Farc.

The most recent pictures of her before her release to the press in November 2007 after Colombian officials seized material from Farc fighters.

Betancourt’s plight has risen to prominence in
France, where she holds citizenship [AFP]

In those images, Betancourt appeared to be extremely frail, sitting in dense jungle territory.

Another four hostages held by the Farc, who were released on 27 February, said they were concerned that Betancourt could die unless she received medical treatment.

She was said to be suffering from hepatitis B, a skin disease and depression, and her son Lorenzo has appealed for her to receive an urgent blood transfusion.

Source: Al Jazeera