Ingrid Betancourt has not fared well in her sudden landing as the new presidential candidate in Colombia. She arrived suddenly, like the paratroopers, chased by the spotlights of the international press that have not left her since they made her the symbol of those kidnapped by the FARC, but she landed on her belly.
Ingrid not only suddenly arrived in a country she hadn’t been back to in 14 years, but she came from the south of France, where she currently lives, without having done the homework of knowing which country she was arriving in. That is why it is not strange to see her today on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
His dislocation began since he landed in the boring coalition of hope, that group made up of several leaders of the center left and that had already made the mistake of presenting itself as the coalition of the lukewarm in its eagerness to say that they were the antidote to avoid extremes in Colombian politics.
There, among the lukewarm, Ingrid, who has little lukewarm, began to stand out. She put on the shirt of a friendly fixer and successfully smoothed over the egos of all those males who made up the coalition, deactivated the objections that prevented Alejandro Gaviria, former Minister of Health of Juan Manuel Santos, from entering the group, and was the architect of the conclave where they refined the commandments of the political project. At a press conference in which she was the star figure – she was the only woman in a row of six men – she was in charge of making the announcement of the emergence of the Centro Esperanza Coalition.
It is very likely that Ingrid made the decision that day to abandon her role as a friendly fixer to become a general. In a coalition of only men she stood out and her candidacy was already an open secret. Her luck was also with her. A few days after she disembarked, a ruling by the Constitutional Court was made known that revived several of the legal statuses of the parties that had disappeared due to the effects of the war. Her party, Oxígeno Verde, fell in that lottery. Due to her kidnapping at the hands of the FARC, which happened in 2002 and which took away six years of her freedom, her party had ceased to exist. That they return it to her, now that she wanted to return to politics, was not a favor but a debt that the State owed her.
Ingrid was no longer just Ingrid. In a matter of days, it ended up being the umbrella that gave shelter to several of the politicians of that lukewarm coalition that had no party. That was the case of Humberto de la Calle, the former chief negotiator of the peace agreement in Havana. He had decided to drop his candidacy to become the head of the Senate ticket for the Hope Center Coalition. Humberto accepted the invitation and registered his candidacy for Oxígeno Verde.
Ingrid went back to her home in the south of France to spend Christmas and on her return to Colombia in January, she surprised all the members of the coalition with her decision to run as a presidential candidate. The news that Ingrid was launching came out in all the European media with great deployment, except in those of Colombia. Ingrid did not even ask the coalition members for her opinion on her candidacy and, like a matriarch, she informed them of her decision before making it public. She became, in a matter of hours, the moral authority of the coalition and the guardian of the purity of the lukewarm and began to say who she was or was not corrupt, almost by divine right. However, instead of directing her batteries against the truly corrupt, she directed them against Alejandro Gaviria, one of the presidential candidates that she had helped enter that holy grail. She without evidence, she accused him of allying with the corrupt and of having betrayed the precepts of purity that they had established.
The lawsuit ended badly for Ingrid and the La Esperanza Coalition. She slammed the door out of the lukewarm club and the Coalition was left without hope. Her departure had devastating effects and one of her victims was Humberto de la Calle, who was left in limbo. De La Calle today runs the risk of being singled out for double militancy, an electoral crime that is penalized in Colombia with the loss of the seat. Betancourt did not give a damn about leaving a man as respectful of due process as Humberto de la Calle on the canvas.
The lukewarm reaction against Betancourt was not so lukewarm. They called her arrogant and trickster. Her networks were brutal against her. Among her insults, they told her to go back to France, that she had nothing to do in the country, and they reminded her of the episode that forced her to leave Colombia 14 years ago. At that time, Ella Betancourt went from being a heroine and a victim of the war to an ungrateful and ambitious politician because she decided to file a lawsuit against the State for not having prevented her kidnapping. The country did not understand that she, a privileged politician, aspired to compensation for what had happened to her. She also did not go to great lengths to explain her decision to Colombians and she left Colombia to avoid lynching.
From voluntary exile he became a moral authority to speak about peace. He supported the Peace Agreement despite the fact that it was difficult for him to see his captors in Congress and not in jail; He was at a reconciliation ceremony in which the ex-FARC asked her for forgiveness and she reproached them for his lack of repentance.
All this magic that was being woven was broken since he landed on his belly a few months ago in Colombia.
He showed his disconnection with the real country and his ignorance of politics in a recent television program, in which he was asked with whom he would make alliances. He couldn’t answer because he didn’t know who the candidates were. He did not know if Óscar Iván Zuluaga, the Uribe candidate, had machinery – which he does – and he doubted that Álex Char, owner and lord of large clientele, had it.
Betancourt claims to have the recipe to detect who is pure and impure in the Colombian animal facility, but he does not know very well who to apply his recipe to. She, of course, is exempt from any impurity. She put her niece as head of the list for the Chamber for Bogotá, knowing that she has never lived in Colombia and gave her endorsement to the candidate Carlos Amaya, a former governor who has some very sharp machinery.
Ingrid Betancourt has done nothing different from what men in Colombian politics do who make their way at the tip of their ego. His is not bigger than that of the other candidates who want to reach the presidency. What happens is that women in Colombia are not forgiven for their mistakes.
Upon her arrival in Bogotá, I asked Ingrid if she wanted to enter the race for the presidency. She told me that she wasn’t ready yet because she still had unhealed scars from the last run-in with Colombia. Ingrid probably still hasn’t resolved her disagreements with the Colombians. However, something tells me that if Ingrid were a man, she wouldn’t be passing this bill to her.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.