Even Silence Has An End by Ingrid Betancourt

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Silence Has An End by Ingrid Betancourt -- available from barnesandnoble.com for $16.64 + shipping.

It is highly recommended not only by Yours Truly who heard Ingrid speak last fall in SLC, but also by Ted and Tucker Gurney (our two retired U/U-Biology-Professor members) who also guarantee that you will find it a real page turner.

Ingrid's book describes her 6.5 years of captivity in Columbia after being kidnapped while running for President of Columbia in 2002 as the representative of the poor and dispossessed -- both of her parents had also represented the poor and dispossessed (her father had been a Minister in several Colombian governments before serving as Assistant Director of UNESCO which has a worldwide focus and then as Head of the Education Commission of U.S. President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress which focused on all of Latin America; Ingrid's mother is a former beauty queen who represented Bogota's poor and dispossessed in the Colombian Congress as a Senator).

Ingrid started a new political party (the Green Oxygen Party) to represent the poor and dispossessed -- it also opposed corruption and the drug cartels which had driven more than 4 million peasants off the land to live in poverty in Colombia's cities.

It would appear that Ingrid's capture by a drug cartel was engineered by the government since it feared she was about to be elected President (just like the Pakistani Government suddenly withdrew security in a notoriously-dangerous area during Benizir Bhutto's 2007 political campaign as the favorite to head the national government resulting in her assassination, the Colombian Government did the same to Ingrid resulting in her capture and imprisonment for 6.5 years).

It took the Colombian Government only a few days to rescue her once they decided after 6.5 years to do so -- Ingrid has dual French and Colombian citizenship (her education is French and she married another student who was French), as a result of which French President Sarkozy, upon assuming office, launched a diplomatic campaign to free her and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez used President Sarkozy's campaign as a reason for massing troops on the border with Colombia (the Colombian Government quickly freed Ingrid before Venezuela could invade!!!).

After 6.5 years of captivity, Ingrid has no stomach for further politics or for living in Colombia, but immensely invaluable are her insights into Latin American politics, U.S. relations with Latin America, the operations of drug cartels and how the international community should act vis-à-vis hostages.
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Pat
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Even Silence Has An End by Ingrid Betancourt

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Originally Proposed by Pat – Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:26 am – 367 views before being transplanted here

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I recommend Ingrid Betancourt's new book (Even Silence Has An End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle) which was published in September - available from Amazon.com for $16.77 + shipping. [The NY Times Book Review follows below.]

She founded the Green Party in Colombia and was elected to Colombia’s Chamber of Representatives in 1994. In 1998, she was elected a Senator with the largest number of votes for anyone running for a Senate seat that year. In 2002 while running for President on an anti-corruption anti-drug-trafficking platform, she issued a demand that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) stop its practice of kidnapping -- and was herself kidnapped by the FARC and held captive for 6.5 years. She and 14 fellow captives were freed by a government raid.

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New York Times – October 3, 2010 Book Review Section

Deliverance
By CAROLINE ELKINS - professor of history at Harvard and winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for her book “Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya.”

Captive for more than a year in the jungles of Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt took to her insect-infested cot, drained by despair. Fat Martha, her aptly nicknamed guard, had brought fresh news: the hell in which Betancourt was living wasn’t harsh enough. A veritable concentration camp, complete with chain-link fences and barbed wire, was being thrown up in haste under the canopies of the country’s impenetrable interior.

In her gripping memoir, “Even Silence Has an End,” Betancourt captures the despondency wrought by Fat Martha’s pronouncement with a blend of power and self-awareness that inscribes not just this one disturbing moment but her account’s every page. “Like Alice in Wonderland, I was falling, falling into a bottomless well,” she writes. “This was my black hole. I was being sucked down, dragged down into the bowels of the earth. I was alive only so that I could witness myself dying.”

There was little to prepare her for the physical and psychological deprivations she would suffer at the hands of the FARC, the quasi-Marxist guerrilla organization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known for its hostage-taking tactics and drug-trafficking allies. A presidential candidate for Colombia’s relatively young Oxygen Green Party, Betancourt set off in an overcrowded pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2002, to campaign in the isolated town of San Vicente del Caguán. Nestled in the onetime demilitarized zone — a region set aside for negotiations between the incumbent government of President Andrés Pastrana and the FARC before Pastrana closed it down — San Vicente was a crucially symbolic stop for Betancourt’s party and its platform of social reform.

Despite the myriad security risks, Betancourt’s entourage forged ahead. That was until a FARC roadblock brought her campaign, and freedom as she knew it, to an end.

The panic of that fateful day gave way to a harrowing six-and-a-half-year ordeal. Countless forced marches that lasted days, and sometimes weeks, plunged Betancourt ever deeper into the jungle. Moving between makeshift camps, she and other FARC captives, including Clara Rojas, her campaign director, descended into an abyss of trauma and cruelty.

Their mobile jungle existence set a miasmic stage for the drama that was to unfold: there were swarms of mosquitoes, acid-red ants, jungle leprosy, microscopic ticks and midges, piranha-infested rivers, anacondas, scorpions, a baking sun and torrential rains. There was the putrid stench of the chontos, or hand-dug latrines. Meager rations of food were more stomach-turning than edible.

Betancourt’s pedigree put her in good position to run for Colombia’s presidency, but at first it militated against adaptation to her new habitat. Both a Colombian and a French citizen, she was raised in relative privilege and lived a life accented by breakfast trays and high-heeled shoes. Her anxieties in captivity consisted of “pathetic little fears,” she recalls. “I told myself that I’d had life too easy, conditioned by an upbringing where fear of change was disguised as caution.”

Betancourt did not tread down the path of self-discovery easily. Bent on escaping, she attempted more than one risky breakout. Unsuccessful, she returned to captivity to face unspeakable punishments, both physical and mental. Some she describes; others she shields from the nakedness of exposure. “Some facts are too painful to be told; in revealing them you relive them,” she observes. “Even if you no longer suffer when you revisit the memory, you keep quiet out of a feeling of self-respect — a reluctance to expose your humiliation. . . . If you share certain things, they will stay alive in other people’s minds. So the most gracious and appropriate thing to do would be to let them die inside you.”

Betancourt hardly folded at the knees. Her “powerlessness” gave way to moments of incredible resolve, her strength rooted in the most primordial of places: the love of her parents, and the lessons they had imparted to her. Above all, she heard the voice of her father (who died while she was in captivity), repeating over and again one word: dignity.

“Even Silence Has an End” is as much a story of relentless introspection as it is a tale of survival. Betancourt had to face down her own weaknesses and self-loathing if she was to overcome the most virulent hazard of all: her fellow captives. Suspicion, love, hostility, friendship and jealousy bound the hostages together in a mind-boggling web of complexity. Egged on by their captors, they often turned on one another. “Minor incidents were poisoning our life,” Betancourt writes. “Deprived of everything — our lives, our pleasures, our loved ones — we had the misguided reflex to cling to what little was left: a tiny amount of space, a piece of cookie, an extra minute in the sun.”

Betancourt was a lightning rod for scorn. A sophisticated and learned woman with an aristocratic air, she was confronted with “alpha male” behavior, especially after three American hostages arrived. That Betancourt was undoubtedly the most prominent among the FARC hostages helped little in intracaptive relations, nor did it help Betancourt with her captors. Some of them took distinct pleasure in humiliating the French-Colombian woman, whose dual nationality rendered her an outsider, and one who symbolized the bourgeois culture they so despised.

Betancourt writes of simple kindnesses and deep affections, of kaleidoscopic turns of emotion and relations whose effects were disorienting and lasting. Today, she “can no longer feel just one emotion at a time.” She is “torn between opposite emotions that inhabit me and shake me.” This is particularly true when it comes to Clara Rojas. Unquestionably the most enigmatic figure in the jungle prison, Rojas — who gave birth to a son, the child of a FARC captor, by Caesarean section while still a hostage — is at once an object of resentment and of familial affection; like sisters, Betancourt suggests, they were joined by fate with a mercurial attachment.

Some may take a cynical view of Betancourt’s account, despite her care to balance it with scathing self-criticism. Many of the animosities that unfolded in the jungle, both among the captives and toward the seemingly uncaring Colombian government of President Álvaro Uribe, who took office in 2002, continue to this day. “Even Silence Has an End” comes after Rojas’s memoir and that of the Americans Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes. Betancourt’s setting aside of vengeance and her discovery of forgiveness can be construed as self-serving; alternatively, her ability to scrutinize herself and ruminate on nuance may highlight the profound differences that set her apart from the other hostages, differences thrown into relief during their years of forced cohabitation.

Betancourt’s recollections of the events leading to her capture, and her commentary on Uribe’s refusal to negotiate on behalf of the FARC hostages, help illuminate arguments being fought publicly in the present. The Colombian military staged a heroic rescue of Betancourt and 14 other hostages, including the Americans, in 2008. Betancourt recently asked the Colombian government for millions of dollars in damages, saying its negligence led to her kidnapping, though she appeared to soften her demands after they incited an uproar. (Colombia’s vice president, Francisco Santos, said she deserved a “world prize for ungratefulness.”)

Undoubtedly, vituperations will continue. But the significance of Betancourt’s memoir must not be obscured. Regardless of her liberation and journey toward forgiveness, the time lost with loved ones cannot be recovered, nor can the humiliations be undone. “The relief that comes from recovering my freedom,” Betancourt cautions, “cannot in any way be compared to the intensity of the suffering I have known.”

johnkarls
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Ingrid's Presentation in SLC - Oct. 23

Post by johnkarls »

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Originally Posted by johnkarls » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:06 pm

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John Karls’ Notes From Ingrid Betancourt’s Presentation in SLC = Sat Oct 23

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(A) Background Info From Internet Before Ingrid’s Presentation

Ingrid was born in Bogotá, Columbia in 1961.

Her family was one of Columbia’s oldest – having arrived from French Normandy 300 years earlier. I was unable to find any information whether her family was/is related to Rόmulo Betancourt of Venezuela – known as “The Father of Venezuelan Democracy” who served as President of Venequela 1945-1948 and 1959-1964 (his party, Accion Democratica, was the dominant political party in Venezuela during the 20th century).

Ingrid’s father, Gabriel Betancourt, was a Columbian-Government Minister 1953-1957 and then served as Assistant Director of UNESCO before heading the Education Commission of President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress aimed at all of Latin America.

Ingrid’s mother, Yolanda Pulecio, is a former beauty queen who later represented Bogotá’s poor and dispossessed in the Colombian Congress.

Ingrid was educated in France and, upon graduation in 1983, married a fellow student, thereby becoming a dual French-Colombian citizen. They had/have two children.

Ingrid returned to Colombia in 1989 immediately after the assassination of a candidate for the Colombian Presidency of whom her mother was an ardent supporter (she was standing directly behind him when he was shot).

Ingrid started a new political party (the Green Oxygen Party) to represent the poor and dispossessed (it also opposed corruption and the drug cartels). She was elected to the Chamber of Representatives in 1994 and became a Senator in 1998. She was running for President when she was kidnapped in 2002 when the Colombian Government suddenly withdrew her security protection.

After she returned to Columbia in 1989, she and her French husband were divorced. She then married a Colombian businessman. They have no children.

Upon Ingrid’s release after 6.5 years of captivity, the only thing her husband said to her was to ask whether he could continue to occupy her Bogotá residence. This fall, he filed suit against Ingrid seeking 50% ownership of her residences in Bogotá, the United States and Paris – and even 50% of the royalties from her new book!!!

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(B) Salient Points About Ingrid’s Presentation

The drug cartels run Colombia.

She was kidnapped by the FARC (the so-called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which was only a revolutionary group for a short period of time before becoming many years before Ingrid’s kidnapping in 2002, just another conventional drug cartel with no political agenda.

The drug cartels have expanded by driving Colombia’s peasants off the land. Ingrid stated that there are more than 4 million former peasants who have been dispossessed by the cartels and forced to live in poverty in Colombia’s cities (the CIA estimates Colombia’s total population in 2010 at 44.2 million). This is in addition to Colombia’s long-time poor.

Ingrid and her fellow captives were permitted to listen to the radio. One of the Bogotá stations, in the middle of each night, permitted relatives to broadcast messages to FARC captives.

Ingrid’s mother broadcast a message to Ingrid every night for her entire 6.5 years of captivity. Her children and other relatives also broadcast messages – all except her husband who never did and who had moved on to make a new life for himself that would not include her, even if she was still alive and later released.

Ingrid frequently tried to escape and endured unimaginable punishment each time. Her fellow prisoners frequently expressed their displeasure over how her attempts often made life worse for them. Most of them tried to cooperate with their captives and two even became their sexual partners, bearing their children.

Although the FARC had claimed from early on that Ingrid had become the partner of the head of the FARC (a lie) or that she was dead (also a lie), the Colombian Army captured a letter by Ingrid being smuggled to her mother. This occurred after five years of captivity.

Because everyone now knew she was alive, she became a cause célèbre. When Sarkozy became French President, he began vigorously pursuing her release because of her dual French citizenship. He even began communicating directly with the FARC. As a result, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who had been looking for a pretext to invade Colombia and depose its conservative government, took up the cause. However, before he could invade, the Colombian Government decided to liberate Ingrid. It was accomplished by the simple ruse of sending a helicopter to the jungle FARC base where she was being held captive, telling the base commander that FARC higher ups wanted her and 14 fellow captives transferred to another FARC jungle prison, and shortly after take-off the disguised Colombian army manning the helicopter overpowered the two FARC whom their commander had insisted on sending along on the supposed transfer.

Ingrid, not surprisingly, takes the position that governments should bow to whatever demands are made by kidnappers. This position is viewed nearly universally as a recipe for disaster since it only encourages more kidnappings and quickly neuters every country or political group that suffers one of the kidnappings provoked by the policy. However, even Israel which early in its existence had refused to ever bargain for hostages, has begun doing so and at unbelievably-adverse ratios of prisoners released by both sides.

In discussing briefly her second husband, Ingrid stated that his question whether he could continue to occupy her Bogotá residence was the only thing he has ever said to her since her release through the date of her presentation, and the lawsuit he filed for 50% ownership of her residences in Bogotá, the U.S. and Paris, and 50% ownership of her book royalties, is the only indirect communication since her release.

She disclaimed any interest in returning to politics. However, various organizations in Colombia (including, perhaps, the Government) obviously do not believe her because her security in SLC was fairly heavy – two large black SUV’s accompanied her limo and there were numerous security personnel in and around the site of her presentation talking to each other in Spanish on their communications gear. My recollection is that they were heavily armed.

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(C) John Karls Being Quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune on Oct 24

John was quoted by the article’s author, Cathy McKitrick. During the course of ensuing e-mail correspondence covering, among other things, John’s request for Cathy to do an article on Reading Liberally, John said:

[a]lthough I am not a “public figure,” I am used to being quoted inaccurately in the media.

Indeed, my original e-mail to you which is the second item below, chided you for your article about Ingrid Betancourt because it quoted me as being “surprised how mild-mannered she was” when I purposely gave you a much more colorful rendition of the same point by saying a moment later that “she is the most Christ-like person I have ever met during my lifetime!!!”

However, I did not complain that your article proceeded to explain what I meant with false information to the effect that I would have expected her, as a politician, to have many scores she would have liked to have settled.

Nothing could have been further from the truth!!!

My brief research on the internet (since I didn’t even know she existed 3 days prior to her presentation) had not disclosed any scores she would presumably have wanted to settle with other politicians from 6.5 years earlier.

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(B-3-a-i). Instead, I elaborated at length on two points. The first concerned her husband. I was aware from my brief Googling that during Ingrid’s 6.5 years of captivity, her husband had moved on and created a new life for himself which would not include her even if she were still alive and later released. Indeed, when she was released, his only comment upon meeting her was to inquire whether he could still occupy her Bogotá residence.

And I was also aware that her husband had recently filed a lawsuit against Ingrid seeking 50% ownership of her residences in Bogotá, the U.S. and Paris – and, my God, even seeking 50% of the profits from her recently-published book!!!

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(B-3-a-ii) The second point concerned her fellow captives. I was aware from my brief Googling that many of Ingrid’s fellow captives had been very critical of any special treatment that she received because of her international prominence – and that, indeed, her release was finally triggered by French President Sarkozy making her captivity, since she had dual French citizenship, a cause célèbre (even communicating directly with the FARC which had kidnapped her), which in turn caused Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who had been looking for a pretext to invade Colombia and depose its conservative government, to begin preparations for such an invasion, which in turn prompted the Colombian government to free her before Chavez/Venezuela could invade (freeing her was quite simple = a helicopter manned by disguised Colombian army troops landed at her jungle prison, told the camp commandant that they had been sent by FARC higher ups to move Ingrid and a dozen or so fellow prisoners to another FARC prison and, as soon as they were airborne, overpowered the two FARC personnel who had come along on the supposed prisoner-transfer flight).

However, I remember pointing out to you three things = (1) that Ingrid had in fact received harsher treatment than the others in many respects, (2) that several of her fellow prisoners had become sexual partners of their captives and borne their children, and (3) that the Nazi concentration camps were famous for Jewish inmates working for the camp staff in order to survive with the observation that it is human nature to do whatever is necessary to live and very few Jewish inmates refused on principle to assist, or even to volunteer to assist, the concentration-camp staffs.

Pat
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Transcript of Ingrid's Interview on MacNeil-Lehrer

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Originally Posted by Pat » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:09 pm

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Transcript - MacNeil-Lehrer (aka The PBS News Hour With Jim Lehrer) – Nov. 4, 2010

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight: a memoir about one of the world's most dramatic political kidnappings. Margaret Warner has that story.

MARGARET WARNER: Ingrid Betancourt is now two years and many miles beyond the ordeal that stole more than six years of her life.

It was February 2002. And Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician and Colombian senator, was campaigning for president in a region controlled by Marxist guerrillas. On a road to a remote town, she and her aides were abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym, FARC.

Betancourt became the most high-profile of thousands of FARC prisoners. They were concealed in the jungle for six-and-a-half years. Then, in July 2008, a daring helicopter rescue. Colombian army forces posing as aid workers freed her and 14 others without a shot being fired.

Betancourt was reunited with her family in Paris and showered with international acclaim and honors. Now she's recounted the ordeal in a remarkable new book, "Even Silence Has an End."

I spoke with her in New York earlier this week. Ingrid Betancourt, welcome. This is quite a tale you have told in this book. I'm wondering whether you think, when you were kidnapped, anything in your background had prepared you for this.

INGRID BETANCOURT, former FARC captive: Well, I think that, in life, everything prepares you to what will come.

And I don't know how it works, but then, once you're confronted with a difficulty, you grab on to what you have lived and your experience. And, for me, I think that what really helped me was the love I had in my childhood, with my children. This, you know, protection of love was the key for me.

MARGARET WARNER: You were subjected to unspeakably degrading conditions.

INGRID BETANCOURT: Well, it was getting back to prehistorical times: no light, no running water, no toilets, no facilities, no privacy, no doors to shut, and only rice and beans to eat every day for six-and-a-half years, muddy water to drink.

MARGARET WARNER: You kept trying to escape, and then you would be subjected to ever more-horrific forms of abuse. A lot of your fellow captives didn't want to try to escape. Why did you?

INGRID BETANCOURT: For me, my obsession was to get back to my children, to my life. And it was also, I thought, a responsibility. My right was to be free. I was a free woman. Others wanted to adapt. I wanted to escape.

MARGARET WARNER: You seemed to adjust to this, if I can use that word, in phases.

INGRID BETANCOURT: I began realizing what was really at stake when I opened my eyes to the fact that everything I was living and the aggressions, the cruelty, the humiliation, was wasn't affecting my body only, but especially my soul. And I couldn't do anything to protect my body, but I had to do everything to protect my soul.

MARGARET WARNER: During one of these episodes, after you had been caught yet again, and you said you found yourself watching yourself. And you said, "measuring my strength and resistance, not according to my ability to fight back, but to submit to those blows."

What did you mean by that?

INGRID BETANCOURT: I couldn't do anything to prevent what was happening to me, but I could just cope. I could resist. I could resist in many ways. What I wanted to protect was my dignity. For example, we had roll calls where they would force us to respond like with numbers.

MARGARET WARNER: In other words, in place of a name?

INGRID BETANCOURT: Yes, in place of a name. And I remember not accepting that, and saying, whenever they wanted me to do -- to respond with a number, I would say my name.

I couldn't let my spirit to play the game where I was going to accept being a number or an object, because then it could just affect me in the way -- in the respect I had for myself.

MARGARET WARNER: You were considered a kind of prized hostage by the FARC, a kind of marquee prisoner. Did you feel that meant they wouldn't kill you?

INGRID BETANCOURT: What it meant to me was, first, that I wasn't going to be released. Once I discovered we had a price, that we were a trophy, then they didn't want to negotiate anymore, because, by keeping us, they would have this media platform that they wanted.

And the second thing was how it affected my relationship with my fellow captives, because every time people would, you know, talk about our situation, they would refer to my name, and not to the others.

MARGARET WARNER: What was the psychology of the captives? You wrote, we behaved like bugs. You betrayed one another. Another time you said, we started to see our guards as the power figures and each other as rivals.

INGRID BETANCOURT: What happened is that we were confined in a very small space, where space was part of the rivalry between prisoners, and then a very small amount of food.

I think that, also, because the guerrillas were trying to load us with lies and saying things, gossip and things, so that we would feel that the other one was the enemy. And it came to a point where we would more easily forgive the captors, because we didn't expect anything from them anyway. We knew they were going to be nasty.

But we had a hard time to forgive our brothers.

MARGARET WARNER: What was the psychology, as best you could understand, of the captors?

INGRID BETANCOURT: I think we all have, you know, human condition, light and shadow.

And this shadow is like a little monster that it's locked inside of us and that we keep there. But, when you met -- meet some conditions, that monster can be unleashed. I could see people that, in the first days, where they would come and meet us, they would encourage us to be who we are -- were, and they would try to be nice.

But the weeks passing by, they would turn themselves into these horrible persons, abusing, being very cruel, and having a satisfaction in their cruelty, which was sadistic.

MARGARET WARNER: So, you think that's in every man or woman?

INGRID BETANCOURT: Yes, I think so.

MARGARET WARNER: After your third escape attempt, and you're being led back to the camp with a chain around your neck, as you wrote, I think, like a dog, you said, however: "I knew that, in a way, I had gained more than I had lost. I knew that I had the ability to free myself from hatred."

INGRID BETANCOURT: Yes. It came slowly. It wasn't something that I realized, like, very quick. But I had, like, the vision for a moment, and then it got stronger, that hatred was a prison. Hatred was a chain. Hatred was something that only harmed myself.

And I didn't want to get out of the jungle like an old, bitter woman, full of thirst of revenge and of blood. And one rule I just put on myself was that, of course I will try to escape many times, but I will never kill to find my freedom. I didn't want to be like them.

MARGARET WARNER: Tell us, if you would, about the moment you realized you were free, and, if you might, read a couple of paragraphs from the end of the book.

INGRID BETANCOURT: It was a miraculous moment. We were supposed to be in the hands of the FARC. And one of the guys who had came in the group with the helicopter took his white cap off and threw it in the air and said: "We are the Colombian army. You are free." That was very intense.

I'm going to now read the passage.

MARGARET WARNER: Yes, please.

INGRID BETANCOURT: "A long, long and very painful cry came breaking through, like a burst of flames, wanting to reach to the skies, forcing me open, like a mother in childbirth.

"When I finished emptying my lungs, my eyes opened to another world. William was clinging to me, and I to him, suddenly, afraid and breathless, in front of this void of freedom opening up before us, as if we were about to take flight, our feet on the edge of the cliff."

MARGARET WARNER: That void, was that frightening?

INGRID BETANCOURT: Yes, the impression that, just like this, our lives had changed, and that now we were facing this freedom. And it was too big, too intense, too marvelous.

And I always think that we were like those birds when they're in a cage, and you open the door of the cage, and they look out, and they are just paralyzed. They don't know what to do. And they know they have to get out, but they don't move. That's how we were.

MARGARET WARNER: Ingrid Betancourt, thank you.

INGRID BETANCOURT: Thank you.

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