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Ingrid Betancourt: 1961—: Politician

Born Into Privilege

Ingrid Betancourt was born in 1961 in Bogotá, Colombia, but she spent much of her youth in Paris. Her father, Gabriel Betancourt, intermittently served as the assistant director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and as minister of education, positions that moved the family between Colombia and France. Pope Paul VI administered Betancourt's first communion, and she exchanged lines of poetry with Pablo Neruda, a family friend. However, as she recalled in her book, Until Death Do Us Part, a family maid informed Betancourt that she lived a privileged life, telling her: "You must not forget, Ingrid, that the world does not resemble the one you're living in today. Reality is painful, life is difficult, and someday it may be painful and difficult for you too."

At a Glance . . .

Born Ingrid Betancourt on December 25, 1961, in Bogotá, Colombia; daughter of Gabriel Betan-court (assistant director to UNESCO and Minister of Education) and Yolanda Pulecio (a legislator); married Fabrice Delloye (divorced); married Juan Carlos Lecomte; children: (with Delloye) Melanie, Lorenzo. Education: University of Political Science, France, B.A., political science.

Career: Served one term in the Colombia legislature, 1994-97; formed Liberal Oxygen Party and elected senator, 1998; ran for office of president of Colombia, 2002.

Addresses: Office—75 N 7-24, Bogotá, Colombia.

Betancourt has related that much of her involvement in politics stemmed from her early life in Paris. As a child, she would hide and listen to her parents discuss Colombian politics with their friends. She also grew to believe that because of her own special status, she should give something back. In Until Death Do Us Part, she recalled her father telling her, "'You know Ingrid, Colombia has given us a great deal.… Because you've had so many opportunities, you now have a debt to Colombia.'" Betancourt attended the Institute of Political Science in Paris, where she laid the groundwork for her future involvement in government. She also met a French diplomat, Fabrice Delloye, and the two married.

For the next ten years, Betancourt traveled with her husband as his work took him to France, Ecuador, the Seychelles, and the United States. The couple also had two children, Melanie and Lorenzo. Betancourt kept abreast of Colombian politics by keeping in contact with her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, who held a seat in the legislature. Although Betancourt expressed a desire to return to Colombia, her husband worried about the dangers. In 1986 she visited Colombia with her eldest child, reacquainting herself with her native land, and feeling more than ever the need to return and become involved in politics.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - PersonalIngrid Betancourt: 1961—: Politician Biography - Born Into Privilege, Returned To Colombia, Became A Politician, Launched Presidential Campaign