Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt was born in Colombia and raised in France. In 1989 she returned to Colombia to pursue a career in politics. While campaigning for President with her Green Oxygen (Oxigeno Verde) Party, she was kidnapped by FARC rebels and held hostage for 6½ years. She was eventually rescued in 2008 by the Colombian military. She appeared at RMIT Storey Hall in conversation with Radio National’s Peter Mares.

Mares begins by asking Betancourt why she decided to enter Colombian politics. She goes on to explain the circumstances in which she was taken hostage, and shares her insights into her captors. Although she was disappointed by their lack of political conviction, she remains reluctant to condemn them, suggesting that life in Colombia leaves some with no better alternative.

Betancourt talks about her fellow hostages, and details their attempted, and ultimately futile, bids for freedom. When asked about her hostage value, Betancourt says the constant attention her kidnapping received made her survival a continuing asset to the rebels.

Betancourt describes the hardships and comforts of jungle life, and shares a memorable encounter with piranha sushi. She details how she struggled against ‘the poison of boredom’.

Following her release, Betancourt says she flirted with suing the Colombian government. Finally, she reveals what sustained her during captivity, and why ‘love is the answer’.

Ingrid Betancourt appeared as a guest of the Wheeler Centre and Sydney Writers' Festival.


Portrait of Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician and author of the memoir Even Silence Has an End, was held hostage from 2002 to 2008 by FARC rebels.

Portrait of Peter Mares

Peter Mares

Peter Mares is an independent writer and researcher. He is a contributing editor for online magazine Inside Story and a senior moderator with The Cranlana Programme. Peter was a broadcaster with the ABC for twenty-five years, serving as a foreign correspondent based in Hanoi and presenting national radio programs. His latest book is Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration Is Changing the Nation. 

Listen to Ingrid Betancourt