Colombia: Ingrid Betancourt facing her captors of the Farc

Hostage for six years, the Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt was confronted for the first time with former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). She intervened within the framework of the Truth Commission set up at the end of the 2016 peace accords. 

Colombia continues its work to soothe the wounds of the longest armed conflict in the Americas. Ingrid Betancourt, hostage of the Farc for six years in the Colombian jungle, was confronted Wednesday, June 23, for the first time, with former members of the Marxist guerrillas before the Truth Commission.

“We are there, we who bear our wounds and our deaths with the difficulty of looking each other in the face. 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 kidnappings in Colombia.

Ingrid Betancourt, 59 years old and who no longer lives in Colombia, was released in 2008 during a military operation after six years of grueling detention in the hands of the Farc.

The 2016 peace agreement, which ended more than five decades of armed conflict between the Farc and the government, provided for the establishment of a special peace court (JEP), but also a Commission of truth, non-judicial entity. 

Kidnapped while she was on an election campaign, the former candidate criticized before the Commission statements made by former guerrillas who did not speak “with their hearts” but for “politics”.

“I heard with emotion the stories of my brothers of pain (…) but I must admit that I am surprised that on this side of the stage we are all crying and that on the other side there is no not had a single tear, ”she said.

“As long as our nightmare belongs only to us (…) we will always be far away, unable to explain to Colombia what really happened,” added the ex-hostage.

“A very serious mistake”

“To those who never returned from their kidnapping, to those who lost their lives in our hands, to their loved ones overwhelmed for years by their absence (…) we ask forgiveness for the terrible suffering we have caused. We speak with a sense of shame, ”replied Rodrigo Londoño, the last guerrilla commander.

Eight senior 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 a lever for political pressure and financed itself with ransoms.

Ex-rebels who admit their responsibility to the JEP can benefit from an alternative sentence to prison. Otherwise, they will be tried in a criminal court and face up to twenty years in prison.

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