The real Ingrid Betancourt in captivity, and today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern
Former hostages Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes and Marc Gonsalves have their book out, Out of Captivity. Monsters and Critics has a lengthy review of the book. In it the former hostages describe not only their horrible ordeal, but also explain in detail what Ingrid Betancourt was like:
Ingrid Betancourt was ‘worse than guards’, claims a fellow hostage
The heroic status of Ingrid Betancourt, who was rescued from six years in the hands of Marxist guerrillas deep in the Colombian jungle, has been shattered by a memoir from her fellow captives.
One of the American prisoners claimed that she was haughty, self-absorbed, stole their food, hoarded books, and risked their lives by informing the guards that they were CIA.
Mind you, Betancourt had to be aware that by claiming the men were CIA she was endangering their lives.
But the three American hostages are not the only ones: The London Times, in an article titled Hostages line up to vilify the ‘jungle heroine’ Ingrid Betancourt
Now Clara Rojas, a friend and colleague seized with Ms Betancourt in 2002, has joined in with further disclosures expected in a forthcoming book.
“I thought she was my friend, but she has demonstrated to me that she wasn’t so much,” Ms Rojas said in a trenchant interview with the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair published this week.
In the report, entitled False Appearances, Ms Rojas, a Colombian lawyer, rejects as fiction the story advanced by Ms Betancourt as to how they came to share captivity. She was not Ms Betancourt’s vice-presidential candidate, Ms Rojas said, nor did she volunteer herself as a hostage. She had accompanied Ms Betancourt to San Vicente del Caguán, where they were captured in February 2002, “out of friendship”.
When the Farc guerrillas who intercepted them said they were taking Ms Betancourt, Ms Rojas asked what would happen to her. Her inquiry so offended them that they took her as well, she said. “I had a generous attitude and because of this I expected something different from Ingrid, but it wasn’t so.”
She also spoke of Ms Betancourt’s distant behaviour in the jungle, particularly after Ms Rojas became pregnant by one of her captors.
The birth of Ms Rojas’s son Emmanuel in 2004 is a particular source of tension. Ms Betancourt claimed in an interview with Larry King that she stopped Ms Rojas from drowning her baby in a jungle river — an allegation that is denied.
On the bright side, El Espectador got on the nerves of Raul Reyes, the now-dead #2 FARC guy, who described her as,
A lady of volcanic temper, rude, and provoking the guerillas in charge of her.”
Why does this matter?
It matters because Betancourt was nearly idolized in parts of Latin America and in Europe, particularly in France, and has made it known that she might seek another chance at Colombian politics. Market Memeorandum recommends, We Recommend Shunning Shares of Ingrid Betancourt. The Revelations of the Three Americans Finally Break an Absurd Code of Silence
Ingrid Betancourt was the symbol of Colombia’s cruel war for years. The former senator was abducted by the FARC guerrillas for about seven years, keep in captivity under miserable conditions. Her release took place last July, in a successful counter-intelligence operation launched by the government of President Alvaro Uribe. Her release was nothing but spectacular and fanned optimism over the decay of the FARC and the possibility that Colombia would someday finally be in peace.
That infamous symbol is over, thank God!
On Friday, three U.S. contractors who were also retained by the FARC for 1,976 days after their plane was shut down by the guerrillas (they refuse to be called spies but they probably were spying on the FARC’s drug operations) released a book in which they thrash Mrs. Colombia War Symbol, a.k.a. Ingrid, accusing her of hoarding and stealing food, complain about her attitude to her peers in the camp and tell a tale of cruelty, envy and arrogance. As AP Bogotá-based writer Frank Bajak said in his story, the Americans revealed that ”she was haughty and self-absorbed, stole food and hoarded books, and even put their lives in danger by telling rebel guards they were CIA agents.´´ What a national heroine we have in this country!
But here comes the funny thing. As if it were a sort of an offense against Colombian sovereignty, politicians, clerics, children, the poor and the rich — everyone — came to the attack of the three Americans (as if they hadn’t been kidnapped and put under the same suffering of the national heroine for long years) to defend our brave former senator. Colombians alleged that the Americans had broken a slient, tacit, Biblic-if-you-fancy code that states ”kidnapping jungle experiences die in the jungle.´´ Pure BS. It seems that Colombians are afraid of the revelations about their lives in the jungle — I don’t know what kind of secret code was that or where it did come from.
The truth is, that code exists no more, thanks to the bravery of these three spies who seem freer and less inclined to worshipping false idols like Betancourt than 44 million people. Looks like life in a FARC camp is pretty much a season of ”Big Brother,´´ that horrendous reality show were contestants love stabbing one another in their backs, cheating their couples outside the house where the show is filmed, intriguing for and against others … well, I can only say I laughed when I read the news.
Since we write about markets here, I will put this on market terms: Colombians, please sell your holdings of Ingrid Betancourt shares sooner than later. I urge the rest of the world to do the same. Stop believing in her. If you once were sympathetic to her mother, the former beauty queen and pedantic longstanding member of Bogotá’s oligarchy, Mrs. Yolanda Pulecio, shun her stock quickly too, before they tank like Citigroup Inc.’s stock. Those two are the reflex of a fetid Colombia — and I don’t mean their suffering should be overlooked, but carefully assessed, put into perspective. Truth is, Ingrid Betancourt’s irresponsible attitude during the aftermath of the breakdown of peace negotiations in Feb. 2002 led to her abduction. Her irresponsible attitude put the country and then-President Andrés Pastrana at a crossroads.
Betancourt would do something good to the world by sending back that prize she won, the Príncipe de Asturias. She should renounce to a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. That would be a shame for the country she says she loves so much — but put on dire straits the day she decided she had to be kidnapped by the FARC to make a point.
The war against the FARC rages on. Last weekend,
The Colombian army has killed a leading commander of the left-wing guerrilla movement FARC. Jesús Gúzman, also known as Gaitan, was killed in fighting at the weekend. He was wanted in connection with a series of supermarket bombings near the capital Bogotá, which formed part of an extortion campaign.
The Colombian intelligence services believe that FARC is increasingly resorting to extortion now that it is becoming more difficult for the movement to kidnap people for ransom.
At the same time, in south east Colombia the FARC killed four Colombian troops.
(CORRECTION Thursday, 5 March): South WEST Colombia)
The FARC is changing tactics and launching what they call “Plan Rebirth”
The rebels have brought their 45-year conflict back into the cities, with four bomb attacks so far this year.
They have also stepped up their extortion demands and their hold on the drugs trade, according to the government.
Whether this is an act of desperation or a regrouping, we shall soon find out.
I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern. Chat’s open at 10:45AM. See you there.