World

Undeterred, Former Ex-Hostage Ingrid Betancourt Aims Again For The Colombian Presidency

Former Colombian rebel hostage Ingrid Betancourt during an interview in New York, on Sept. 21, 2010.

Former Colombian rebel hostage Ingrid Betancourt during an interview in New York, on Sept. 21, 2010.  (AP)

Six years of captivity by the FARC guerrilla were not enough to scare former Senator and presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt away from public office — the famed ex-hostage will seek to represent Colombia's Green Party in next year's presidential elections.

Party spokesman Antonio Sanguino that Betancourt will compete in the party's March primary, vying against pre-candidates that could include former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa and former M-19 rebel Antonio Navarro Wolf.

The 51-year-old Betancourt was kidnapped on 23 February 2002 and was rescued by Colombian security forces six and a half years later, on 2 July 2008. The rescue operation, dubbed "Operacion Jaque," rescued Betancourt along with 14 other hostages ― three United States citizens and eleven Colombian policemen and soldiers. In all, she was held captive for six years after being taken while campaigning for the Colombian presidency for the Green Party.

Betancourt wrote an acclaimed book about her ordeal titled, "Even Silence Has An End." She has been living abroad and could not immediately be reached for comment.

President Juan Manuel Santos engineered Betancourt's rescue while serving as defense minister. Last week, he announced his re-election bid, an announcement that had been widely expected.

Victory would give the 62-year-old president four more years to pursue peace negotiations that he launched with leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels.

A recent poll puts Santos ahead of four other possible candidates for the May election, but with a relatively low support level.

The poll by Invamer-Gallup concluded that 27 percent of people surveyed said they would vote for Santos, with former Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga in second place at 15 percent.

The poll questioned 1,200 people between Nov. 1 and 6, and had a margin for error of three percentage points.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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