Latin America & Caribbean

Ingrid Betancourt recounts Farc hostage ordeal in book

Ingrid Betancourt in New York. Photo: 14 September 2010
Image caption Ms Betancourt is due to release the book in Colombia, France and the US

Former Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt has written for the first time about her six-year ordeal of being held hostage by Farc rebels.

In a book, Ms Betancourt recounts how she was repeatedly beaten, humiliated and threatened with death while being kept prisoner in Colombia's jungle.

The book, Meme Le Silence A Une Fin (Even Silence Has An End), is released on Tuesday in several countries.

It has caused a row in Colombia over what she wrote about fellow captives.

In the book, Ms Betancourt recalls how Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) gunmen seized her in southern Colombia as she campaigned for the presidency in February 2002.

She reveals that it was at times very difficult to keep hopes alive in the hostile jungle.

"We were handed the heaviest sentence a human being can be given, that of not knowing when it would end," she writes in the book, the AFP news agency reports.

She also writes of tensions with her former campaign manager, Clara Rojas, who was captured at the same time as her and with whom she shared a cage.

"You had to be very strong not to find relief from the guards' constant humiliations by in turn humiliating the person who shares your fate."

Ms Rojas described some of Ms Betancourt's comments about Ms Rojas's decision to remain pregnant while in captivity in the book as "vile".

Ms Rojas gave birth to a boy, fathered by one of the rebels, while being held hostage and was reunited with her child after she was freed in January 2008.

Some of Ms Betancourt's fellow hostages have already written unflattering accounts of being held captive with her.

Rescue

Ms Betancourt, who also has French nationality, admits that she had a "fear of being alone. Fear of fear. Fear of dying".

She says she was often tied up and beaten.

"I was taken by storm, I had convulsions... my body and my heart stayed frozen during the brief moment of eternity.

"But I survived," she writes.

Ms Betancourt was released in July 2008, when the rebels were tricked into handing her and 14 other hostages over to soldiers masquerading as members of a humanitarian group who had volunteered to fly them by helicopter to a new location.