Former FARC Hostage Ingrid Betancourt is Really, Really Ungrateful


I was more than willing to cut Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian politician held in captivity by the FARC for 2,321 days, slack when one of her co-captives, an American ex-Marine, wrote that "Some of the [FARC] guards treated us better than she did." But this, I'm afraid, is too much. Betancourt threatened (and then retracted, in the face of a massive media backlash) to file suit against the Colombian government—the very government that, in a dangerous and daring commando operation, rescued her and 14 other hostages. The Economist has details:

"UNGRATEFUL", "shameful", "cheeky", "hypocrite". Those are some of the kinder epithets being bandied about in Colombia in reference to Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian politician who was once the nation's most famed hostage. On Friday, the Caracol radio station reported that Ms Betancourt had filed a legal request to the Colombian government for $6.8 million in damages, in compensation for being kidnapped by the FARC guerrillas during her 2002 presidential campaign. On radio talk shows, blogs and chat forums, Colombians have suggested that the government should instead sue Ms Betancourt for the costs of the military operation that led to her release six years later, which she has called a "perfect" rescue.

It seems obvious why Betancourt withdrew the suit, but the invaluable folks at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas provide some local context—i.e. angry reactions from the local media:

"Shameful" is the headline attached to a photo of Betancourt on the main page of Semana magazine. Columnist Daniel Samper called her attitude "miserable" and said she was "ungrateful" for the government's efforts to rescue her. The Economist reports that on radio talk shows, blogs, and online forums Colombians have called her a "hypocrite" who should be sued by the government to pay the costs of the military operation that led to her rescue.

The press has been most skeptical of her claim that the state failed to protect her. El Espectador quotes a military officer who says it was Betancourt's decision to go without an escort. El Tiempo columnist Mauricio Pombo said she ignored warnings and ended up kidnapped.

(via Ivan Osorio