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BOGOTÁ.- Íngrid Betancourt, the former presidential candidate who was kidnapped for more than six years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), announced today that he will again seek the presidency of his country in the elections on May 29.

The announcement comes nearly two decades after Betancourt was kidnapped by the now-defunct FARC while she was campaigning for the presidency of Colombia for the Oxygen Green Party, a group she founded when she was a congresswoman.

“Exactly 20 years ago I was kidnapped as a candidate,” Betancourt said in Bogotá. “Today I am here to finish what I started, with the conviction that Colombia is ready to change course.”

Betancourt spent six years in captivity in guerrilla camps in the Amazon jungle, where sometimes the rebels tied her to a tree with chains to prevent her from escaping. During that time, some videos of her were made public as proof of life, and in which the policy asked the authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to her kidnapping and asked the government to resume peace talks with the FARC.

The former candidate became a symbol of international campaigns seeking the resumption of peace talks in Colombia and the release of others kidnapped by the FARC. Her kidnapping ended in 2008 through a military operation, in which Colombian soldiers disguised as humanitarian personnel rescued her along with 14 other hostages, without firing a single shot.

Betancourt retired from public life after his release. Much of his time was spent with his family in France. However, he returned to the political scene in Colombia last year, as the country began to prepare for presidential elections in May.

“Today I come to claim the rights of the 51 million Colombians who cannot find justice, because We live in a system designed to guarantee impunity for the violent… I am talking about the system of corruption,” said Betancourt, who assured that just as she was a victim of armed groups and suffered kidnapping herself, Colombians have been “chained” to injustice and violence.

Betancourt will compete for the presidency initially within the Centro Esperanza Coalition, made up of a group of politicians who have come together to elect a single candidacy. Also in this coalition are Sergio Fajardo, who in the last presidential elections came in third place with 4.5 million votes; Alejandro Gaviria, former rector of the Universidad de los Andes; and Juan Manuel Galán, son of the presidential candidate assassinated in 1989 for opposing drug cartels.

“Ingrid renews the offer of this Coalition of Hope that has been a bit stagnant since the beginning of the campaign with many internal negotiations”Yann Basset, a political analyst and professor at the Universidad del Rosario, told the AP agency. “They have been criticized a lot for only having white, upper-class men, with very little diversity, so the fact that they have a woman with a possibility can be interesting because none of the other candidates have generated much enthusiasm,” he added.

Betancourt assured that with his aspiration he seeks a world with a “woman’s vision”.

In Colombia there has never been a woman in the presidency. The highest position was held for the first time by the current vice president and chancellor Marta Lucía Ramírez.

“We women have been opening a path with great difficulty, but we have also learned to build bridges that allow us that today many Colombians, men and women, think of women as a leadership option,” she told the press.

AP Agency


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