Guerillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, kidnapped Ingrid Betancourt as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency in 2002. She was held captive six years in Colombia’s rain forest until she was liberated in 2008 with 14 other hostages in a daring rescue staged by the Colombian army. Listen to her story.
Betancourt spoke at Vanderbilt University Nov. 16, 2010. The university’s Speakers Committee, a student-run organization, sponsored the event.
Betancourt, the longest female hostage held in captivity, has become a global human rights activist meeting with world leaders and campaigning for the release of more than 700 hostages still being held captive by FARC.
“I will not feel totally free, not happy, as long as one of my companions remains jailed in the jungle,” she has said.
During her presidential campaign, she had been a critic of FARC and her platform was built on her promise to curb drug trafficking, corruption and the FARC’s methods of kidnapping innocent people. She had met with FARC leaders to encourage them to end these practices before becoming a victim of their rebel tactics.
Betancourt has received numerous international awards, including the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, The Prince of Asturias Prize of Concord, The Prize Grinzane Cavour and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She also received the first Woman of the Year Award 2008 from the World Awards Association for her commitment to democratic values, freedom and tolerance.
Princine Lewis, (615) 322-NEWS