By now you’ve probably heard that a ransom of $20 million was actually paid to get Betancourt & Co. out of the jungle, and the whole Hollywood rescue was elaborately staged to conceal that inconvenient fact. More on that later, but since the media show is still in full swing, and it is after all so very entertaining, let’s linger for awhile on the Ingrid Betancourt show.
(The female version of Leopoldo López)
José Sant Roz – Aporrea
Ingrid, profoundly oligarchic, her greatest aspiration, it’s said, was to forever remain on the front pages of the worldwide media.
This is a woman who, we in this capitalist system, usually call “lucky.” Daughter of oligarchs, intelligent, ambitious, agile and alert, striking for her liveliness, grace, but who naturally reached a point where she became terribly tired of herself, and everything that a formal life offered her. Her mother, Yolanda Pulencio, was an ex-beauty queen who became Miss Colombia. Her father, Gabriel, was Education Minister in the government of the dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (1953-1957). She enrolled in political sciences at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, and in the ’80’s, married one of her classmates, the French diplomat Fabrice Delloye, father of her two children, Melanie and Lorenzo (who she never had to raise). Typical of oligarchs such as Mario Vargas Llosa, she acquired French citizenship, and in her moments of leisure and ennui, would dedicate herself to playing in Colombian politics; when the news arrived, every day, about the bodies of some renowned politician or other, dismembered, tossed in the air, she despaired at not being in the center of these scenes. All that she might have desired might have been acquired, in this partisan plane, including the Presidency of the Republic, which, it appeared was not sufficient to meet her need for supreme reaffirmation: global recognition, complete and absolute. She longed for something stronger, something more definitive, something that would leave a mark of intense pain, of sorrow and glory, at once.
After the attempt in 1989 against the liberal presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, (a very close friend of her mother’s), she began to work as an adviser in the finance ministry. Desolate and bored, she decided to run for the House of Representatives in Bogotá in the 1994 elections. In 1996, already a member of Congress, she began to feel the first indications of that for which she most yearned: she received a death and kidnapping threat, and prepared herself for her great adventure. The first thing she did was send her two children to New Zealand, where her ex-husband resided. In 1998, elected Senator, she radicalized her position, organizing her “Oxygen” political movement. She wanted to go much farther than her mother and be queen of an armed group, and therefore began making extremely studied attacks on the FARC and against the paramilitaries, while she arranged meetings with both groups. In other words, she was burning both ends. She lived tormented years, for despite her resolute and “courageous” statements, they didn’t kill or kidnap her. It seems that there’s a strong superstition among hired assassins and murderers in Colombia; that killing women brings bad luck. Taking the typical position that we see from the “daddy’s boys” in the opposition parties today in Venezuela (such as “Primero Justicia” – Justice First), she along with other deputies organized a group that called itself “The Three Musketeers.” They said they would be transformative politicians; the new generation. When she saw that she already had no chance to be Colombian president, because she barely received 53,000 votes (.46%) of the 11 million valid votes available, she saw it with extreme clarity: “I want to distance myself from everyone, I don’t want to see anyone, I want to exclude myself. For the path that I’ve taken I will never stop being what I am, a political pariah. I hate silence, the horror at the vacuum that means the nonexistence of my determined and shocking way of being in the world.”
It’s completely untrue that she cared for her children; she hardly ever saw them. It was also very clear: anything about motherhood, taking care of the home, suffocated and diminished her, and with good reason, because from there she could never be what she is today, even meeting with the Pope…She never cared for them, never changed a diaper, never gave them a pacifier. She didn’t have time for that, nor did she want it.
The rest of the story is already told to excess around the globe: “On the night of February 22, 2002, she called Néstor León Ramírez, the “Oxygen” mayor in San Vicente del Caguán, in the department of Caquetá, a FARC bastion, on her mobile phone.
“She said that she would be with me for better or worse and that she would come to San Vicente to give me support,” said RamÍrez.
“I told her that there were problems on the way, because the guerrillas were harassing people, but she was so insistent, she told me to wait for her and she would come.”
Betancourt, along with her companion and vice-presidential candidate, Clara Rojas, arrived in Florencia, the capital of Caquetá, and took off in a van for San Vicente around mid-day, February 23, 2002. There they were kidnapped. Her companion was liberated six years later.
Now as we see her so fresh and sweet, so happy and talkative; how these expressions contrast with her shocking letters to her mother: “I don’t want anything because here in the jungle, the only answer to everything is ‘no’… life here is not life; it’s a grim waste of time…I’ve not eaten, I’ve lost my appetite, my hair is falling out in great quantities…” As an actress, she missed her true calling: soap operas.
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.