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Former Colombian Hostage Betancourt To Run For President

Article illustrative image Partner logo One of Colombia's most recognizable faces abroad. How popular is she at home?

BOGOTA — Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombian politician held hostage by FARC guerrillas for six years in the jungle, may return from self-imposed exile and become a candidate in the 2014 presidential election, Colombia’s El Pais newspaper reported.

The country’s Green Alliance began to gauge her interest in returning to Colombian politics in recent weeks, and it was confirmed late Thursday that she would take part in a poll the party would hold to find out which candidate would prove most popular with voters ahead of the May 2014 vote.

Betancourt and her aide were kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002 while she campaigned in southern Colombia for the presidency. She remained a hostage, kept in increasingly draconian conditions and at times chained to trees, until rescued by the Army in 2008.

She left Colombia after her bid to sue the State for failing to protect her in 2002 provoked a public outcry, and it is unclear how much that might weigh on her current candidacy.  

Other people who have agreed to be in the Green Alliance’s electoral poll are former Marxist guerrilla Antonio Navarro Wolff and former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa. The pre-candidate with the most votes would presumably become the Green candidate to face off against incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and the very conservative Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who represents supporters of the former conservative president Álvaro Uribe.

Betancourt, a parliamentarian and senator throughout the 1990s who was campaigning for the presidency when she was kidnapped, remains one of Colombia’s most familiar political faces — as prominent if not as popular as Uribe, the president at the time of her rescue in 2008.

Green Party member Antonio Sanguino described her as someone “with a track record of fighting corruption.” She created a Green party in Colombia for the first time, but is also a symbol of the pain of the victims of the civil conflict with the FARC, the daily Vanguardia Liberal reports.

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