Last week I had the pleasure of meeting former Colombian Senator Ingrid Betancourt during a speaking tour to promote her new book, “Even Silence Has an End: My Six years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle.”
Growing up I had always seen images of Ingrid struggling against corruption and drug trafficking in both lower and upper house of the Congress of Colombia. She fought arduously against politicians who have been receiving bribes from members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until one day she was held captive by the very same group for over 2,000 days just as she was beginning to run as a Presidential candidate.
Her story of endurance, survival and hope in the deep jungles of Colombia is truly inspiring and I could remember seeing my own mother pray for Ingrid as there had been multiple attempts by the Colombian and French government to rescue her. Her eventual rescue mission called “Operation Jaque” (which means “check” as in “checkmate” in Chess) on July 2008 reunited her with her family in France and since then she has not returned to Colombia. “Operation Jaque”, orchestrated by the Colombian military intelligence community, by the way, was elegantly carried through and its operation and execution must have been admired even the most senior officials in our very own CIA.
Her decision to shy away form Colombia, however, has been received by mixed criticisms by dozens – particularly by Colombians. But who can blame her after all the trauma she has witnessed and all the years she’s been separated form her children just because of her trying to do the right and for speaking against corruption. When I asked her about the current circumstance in Colombia and for any viable solutions, she responded that the change would need to come from the hearts of the people – very similar to what we saw in the “Arab Spring” or even through the current “Occupy Wall Street” movements…I couldn’t agree more.