Colombian politician Íngrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped by the FARC for more than six years, announced this Tuesday that she will participate next March in the Centro Esperanza Coalition’s consultation to be a presidential candidate for the second time. Betancourt, 60, has said at a press conference in Bogotá that she wants to be president to “break the chains” that have held Colombia in corruption and violence for decades.
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“I want to be the president of Colombians to make sure that the country’s wealth will go to the children and young people from whom the war took what they could be,” she said. After months of speculation about his political future, Betancourt has said in announcing his candidacy that for decades Colombia “has only had bad options: extreme right or extreme left.” However, “now the time has come to have a center option.”
“I am here to finish what I started, with the conviction that Colombia is ready to change course, to fulfill its appointment with history,” he added.
return to politics
On February 23, 2002, Betancourt, then a presidential candidate for the Oxygen Green party, was kidnapped by the FARC guerrillas when she was visiting the former demilitarized zone established for the peace talks in San Vicente del Caguán, in the department of Caquetá. (south). Her kidnapping lasted six years, until she was rescued along with 14 other captives by the Armed Forces in “Operación Jaque”, on July 2, 2008, after which Betancourt moved away from politics and settled in Europe.
In Tuesday’s statement, she made reference to a “pressing” agenda that includes “ending hunger and transforming the world, a world with a woman’s vision.” He has also demanded “the rights of the 51 million Colombians who cannot find justice” because they live in an organized system “to guarantee impunity.”
“A fight for all Colombians”
The motivation that has led her to launch herself into the presidential race again, she said, has been the dilemma between “continuing to look at things from the sidelines or rolling up her sleeves and putting herself where you can help”, in addition to the fact that the Hope Center Coalition “I needed the presence of a woman.”
Betancourt has defended himself against the accusations of “seeking political benefits”, and has said that he is returning to “claim a real democracy” and to “fight” for his “extended family, which are all Colombians”.
“My story is the story of all Colombians, because while we were chained, the families of Colombia were also chained by violence, insecurity, corruption,” he lamented. Betancourt’s announcement comes after the National Electoral Council (CNE) restored legal personality to the Oxygen Green party at the end of last year, which had been left in limbo after its kidnapping.
Who will be your rivals?
In the consultation to choose the presidential candidate of the Hope Center Coalition, which will be held on March 13 along with the legislative elections, Betancourt will face other weighty politicians. Among them are former presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo, former minister Juan Fernando Cristo – who accompanied her this Tuesday in her announcement – former minister Alejandro Gaviria, senator Jorge Robledo, and former senator Juan Manuel Galán.
Betancourt also becomes the second pre-candidate for the presidency in this campaign, after the social leader Francia Márquez, who is running for the Left-wing Historical Pact.
Colombia will hold the first round of the presidential elections on May 29 and the polls give Senator Gustavo Petro, a candidate for the Historical Pact, as the favorite, who was defeated in the second round of 2018 by today’s president Iván Duque.