Ingrid Betancourt, hostage of FARC for 6 years, faces her captors for the first time
Sylvie Claire / June 25, 2021
The French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, hostage of Farc for six years in the Colombian jungle, was confronted on Wednesday for the first time with former members of the Marxist guerrilla in front of the Truth Commission set up after the peace agreements of 2016.
We are here, we who carry our wounds and our deaths with the difficulty of looking at ourselves. With the pain of listening to us and with the modesty of our emotions, but with the shared decision to break the vicious circle of violence, said, moved, the former presidential candidate, international symbol of the scourge of kidnapping in Colombia.
Ingrid Betancourt, 59 years old and no longer living in Colombia, was freed in 2008 during a military operation after six years of trying detention at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The 2016 peace agreement, which ended more than five decades of armed conflict between FARC and the government, provided for the establishment of a Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), but also a Truth Commission, a non-judicial entity. The former candidate, who was kidnapped while campaigning, criticized before the Commission the statements made by former guerrillas who did not speak with their hearts but for politics.
I heard with emotion the stories of my brothers in pain but I must confess that I am surprised that on this side of the stage we were all crying and on the other side there was not a single tear, she said. As long as our nightmare belongs only to us we will always be distant, unable to explain to Colombia what really happened, added the ex-hostage.
To those who never returned from their kidnapping, to those who lost their lives in our hands, to their loved ones who were overwhelmed for years by their absence we ask forgiveness for the terrible suffering we caused. We speak with a sense of shame, responded Rodrigo Londoño, the last commander of the guerrilla group.
Eight top ex-Farc commanders, including Rodrigo Londoño, were charged in January with crimes against humanity for the kidnappings of 21,396 people between 1990 and 2016.
In September, the leadership of what is now a political party said the kidnappings had been a very serious mistake.The organization used the kidnappings as leverage for political pressure and financed itself with ransom money. Ex-rebels who admit responsibility to the JEP may be given an alternative sentence to prison; otherwise, they will be tried in a criminal court and face up to 20 years in prison.