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Ingrid Betancourt    

Global Human Rights Advocate; Nominee, 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

Ingrid Betancourt was the longest female hostage held in captivity and also the most recalled one. A global symbol of freedom and human resistance in the face of the toughest of adversities, her fight for democracy, freedom and peace has been a shining example of dignity and bravery for the entire world.

Guerrillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped Ms. Betancourt as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency on February 23, 2002. She was held captive for six years in Colombia's vast rain forest, a jungle so dense that the ground is completely invisible from the air. On July 2, 2008, she was liberated with 14 other hostages in a daring rescue staged by the Colombian army.

Ms. Betancourt has since continued to dedicate her life to democracy, freedom and peace, as well as campaigning for the release of more than 700 hostages still being held captive by the FARC by keeping their plight in the limelight. "I will not feel totally free, not happy, as long as one of my companions remains jailed in the jungle," she has said.

Ms. Betancourt has also urged neighboring countries to help Colombia work on political transformations by democratic means. She has said often since her release that she does not seek revenge against her captors and favors dialogue and reconciliation to end Colombia's decades-old guerrilla war.

Ms. Betancourt has been a critic of the FARC during her campaign in the Colombian presidential election. Her campaign was built on her promise to curb drug trafficking, corruption and the FARC's methods of kidnapping innocent people. She even met with FARC leaders, imploring them to end this inhumane practice, but in the end, she became a victim of their rebel tactics.

Upon her return from captivity, Ms. Betancourt engaged in a whirlwind of public addresses and international meetings with presidents and heads-of-state, including King Juan Carlos and President Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, King Albert II of Belgium, President Sarkozy of France, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Alan Garcia of Peru, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Lula of Brazil, President Rafael Correa of the Republic of Ecuador and President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Benedict XVI.

Speech Topics

Freedom, Peace and the Power to Change

Ingrid Betancourt draws on her extraordinary path to deliver an inspiring and passionate message, speaking in depth about others around the world incarcerated against their will and the task of raising awareness of human rights violations globally. Ms. Betancourt’s key message centers on the power of discourse; “With each word we can reclaim other relationships, other commitments, other solutions... We can offer more dialogue and less imposition by force.”


Ingrid Betancourt on how Colombia can achieve a lasting peace ...

The Colombian politician, who spent years as a rebel hostage, tells The Globe and Mail what needs to happen for a lasting peace in Colombia, and how ...

Five years after freedom, Betancourt urges forgiveness | Fox News

Following her release from captivity, former hostage Ingrid Betancourt (R) hugs her mother Yolanda Pulecio upon her arrival at the Catam air base in Bogota, ...

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