She thanked the people’s solidarity and its prayers when she arrived in Buenos Aires. In Quito she had proposed a “multinational front” to get the hostages who are still in the jungle free. Ingrid Betancourt is on tour in Latin America.
So strange that she didn’t start with the only leader in the region who really managed to get some of the hostages free: Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez. The rest wasn’t able to do more than show its goodwill. It is not at all easy to negotiate with the FARC and stop this war.
What does Ingrid want? And what will she be able to do?
It looks like she doesn’t very well know herself, unless the final goal is a mere PR-tour and Colombia’s presidency in 2010.
But Ingrid should be careful. The perception of her public performance is very different here in Latin America than in Europe, where she was received as a heroine and drowned with prizes. People are rather indifferent and only the families of the hostages who are still in the jungle have an interest that her tour will be effective.
“Not even the former presidential candidate (i.e. Betancourt herself) explained exactly the motives of her surprising tour”, said the Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio. Political analyst and editor in chief of the communist magazine Voz Carlos Lozano told El Comercio that Betancourt is not the appropriate person to negotiate with the FARC, because it was the Colombian army – obviously the arch enemy of the FARC – which rescued her in July.
The Argentine Urgente 24 went even further than El Comercio describing her tour as a presidential campaign, in a K style, comparing her to the Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The tour is giving Betancourt the possibility of promoting herself on an international level, Urgente says, and that is the problem. Lots of publicity, press conferences after meetings with presidents, but then? If even Betancourt herself cannot give a proper explanation, Urgente might be right with its qualification and the press can only do one thing: refuse to cover her presidential promotion tour. Because there are more important things to tell.
Wies Ubags (This column was published in Colombia Reports, December 3, 2008)