Fame Hinders Chance of Freedom

As international cause, Colombian hostage is valuable to rebels
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2008 12:31 PM CDT
Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez talks with Yolando Pulecio, mother of Ingrid Betancourt.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Marrero)
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(Newser) – The daughter of a beauty queen and a diplomat who once enjoyed a charmed existence in fashionable Parisian quarters, Ingrid Betancourt is now a hostage in a Colombian jungle who is sometimes chained by the neck to a tree. The Wall Street Journal profiles the plight of the former Colombian presidential candidate, who was kidnapped in 2002 by rebels.

Betancourt has become a cause celebre in Europe, but her fame may be keeping her a hostage as it makes her more valuable to FARC, Latin America’s oldest and largest insurgency. “If we released her, we would have no other cards to play," a rebel commander wrote in December. And Betancourt has given up hope, saying in a letter that death seems “like a sweet option.”