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Ingrid Betancourt

`Queen of Entitlement’ fading into history of greed

 By Judi McLeod  Tuesday, July 13, 2010

As they’re writing in Bogota Free Planet (BFP) today, Ingrid Betancourt, who would do most anything to keep her name before the public, has fallen victim to her own publicity.

As a Colombian presidential candidate, she passed out free condoms on the theme that her opponents were “corrupt”.  As a freed hostage, living the good life in France, she wanted to sue not her captors, but the saviors of her life.

A wave of criticism in Colombia that reached Colombians living around the world, forced her haughty retreat from trying to chisel the Colombian government for $6.8 million for her time as a hostage.

When criticism of the wannabe president reached its peak, she was only after the money, she said to help other hostages.

You don’t have to read Out of Captivity: 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle, the compelling memoir of the three U.S. military contractors held hostage by FARC along with Betancourt,  to know that Betancourt does nothing for anybody other than herself.

“In the book and in the authors’ interview this week with TIME, the men make it clear that it wasn’t just jungle fare that left a bad taste in their mouths. (Time, March 1, 2009).  “Some of their more unpleasant memories are saved for fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian who was kindnapped (sic) while campaigning for the Colombian presidency and was rescued along with the Americans and 11 other hostages last summer.  The authors describe the married Betancourt as carrying on an affair with a Colombian hostage, acting like a privileged blue-blood—”a frickin’ princess” in Stansell’s telling—bossing around the other prisoners and hoarding precious books, food and a transistor radio.  They even claim that she told the guerrillas that the Americans were CIA agents.  Asked to elaborate on Betancourt, Stansell told TIME: “That’s an infection I lived with for many years.  I’d just like to be inoculated and move on.”

Betancourt, holed up in France writing her memoirs,  has yet to respond to the Americans’ accusations.  You can bet the family finca that when her book is released this September, she will have been too busy portraying herself as a heroine noble to others during captivity.

For certain she will not be quoting Vice-President Francisco Santos who said Betancourt had won “the world prize for ingratitude”.

Were Betancourt not already mired in infamy as “Queen of the Condom” from the days when she gave free condoms out on the political hustings, she would ascend to the throne of “Queen of Entitlement”.  She was kidnapped, she said, not because she took her campaign into well advertised dangerous territory, but because the authorities had taken away her bodyguards.

Holding out as a blue blood as a captive in the jungle poses dangers to fellow hostages much worse than conceit.

Pretend blue bloods always blame their minions.  All but lost in the `Fable of Ingrid’  is that she had been trying to jump-start her stalled presidential campaign when she set out for the FARC challenged town of San Vicente del Caguán on the fateful day of Feb. 23, 2002.

Thousands marched for her freedom in Europe while the media ignored every day police officers and soldiers held captive for decades.

When she was rescued by Colombian soldiers with 14 others in July, 2008, the media spotlight was on Betancourt and it was almost as if the media “no names” among the other hostages didn’t matter.  It was heartbreaking watching television coverage from Canada with Bogota Free Planet watching at their end. 

How many loved ones of the no names strained to see their first televised glimpse of a released husband or son while Betancourt and her mother lapped up the publicity much like kittens lapping up the cream?

She can claim she was only after the money for the other hostages, but Ingrid Betancourt will go down in history as a greedy, self-serving politician.

That’s her story and she will stick to it.

But even though she didn’t write them herself, the story of ingratitude and greed will end with the words, “Ingrid Betancourt no longer holds Colombians hostage.”

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Judi McLeod  Bio
Judi McLeod Most recent columns

Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, and Glenn Beck.

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