Ingrid Betancourt is running again for the Colombian presidency. In 2002, Betancourt, then a senator, was kidnapped by the far-left guerrilla movement FARC, about eight months after she announced she wanted to run for president. She has been incarcerated for over six years.
“I’m here to finish what I started with many of you in 2002,” Betancourt said when announcing her candidacy. “I am here to enforce the rights of 51 million Colombians who are not getting justice because we live in a system that rewards criminals.”
Betancourt joins a coalition of center parties. Whether she eventually becomes the candidate of that coalition will become clear in May. Then primaries are held. Betancourt also ran for office in 2013, but failed to win the primary.
The presidential elections are on May 29. The biggest contender for the time being is the left-wing candidate Gustavo, Petro, who was previously mayor of the capital Bogota. He is the candidate for a coalition of left-wing parties. A candidate has yet to be chosen for the coalition of right-wing parties, which now supports incumbent President Duque. He is not eligible for re-election.
For many Colombians, Betancourt became a symbol of the atrocities brought about by the years of struggle between the Colombian government and the FARC. “My story is the story of all Colombians,” Betancourt said. “While my colleagues and I were chained by our necks, Colombian families were chained by corruption, violence and injustice.”
She was freed in 2008 during a rescue operation by the Colombian army. After her liberation, she no longer played a major role in public life. She mainly spent her time in France with her family. Betancourt has a French husband.
In 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the FARC. However, many Colombians are disappointed in the period that followed. The far-left movement ELN and splinter groups of the FARC do not recognize the agreement and cause a lot of violence in the Colombian countryside.
There is also a lot of dissatisfaction in Colombia for other reasons. The economy shrank by 7 percent in 2020, increasing poverty. After an announced tax reform, people took to the streets en masse last spring. The police regularly acted harshly, as a result of which dozens dead many.