1 minute read

Ingrid Betancourt: 1961—: Politician

Returned To Colombia

In 1989 Betancourt traveled with Lorenzo to Paris to visit Delloye's family. Although she had found the trip relaxing, on August 18, 1989, she found herself unable to sleep. The following morning she called her mother in Colombia and discovered that Luis Carlos Galan, the liberal candidate for the presidency, had been killed. "When they killed him, I had a single obsession: to come back to Colombia at whatever cost, even though it cost me my marriage," she told Juanita Darling in the Los Angeles Times. "They killed Galan on August 17, 1989, and by the beginning of January 1990, I was in Colombia." Leaving Los Angeles also came with a price. Betancourt and Delloye divorced, and he temporarily received custody of their two children. In Colombia she tentatively began her career in politics by becoming her mother's advisor during her senatorial campaign in 1990.

After the campaign Betancourt received a job at the finance ministry and later at commerce. During her three-year tenure in government service, she became aware of the harsh realities of Colombian politics. Drug money lined the pockets of politicians, blocking a number of reforms, and local officials often siphoned off government funds before they could be applied to housing or other projects. Jeremy Lennard of the Guardian (London) wrote, "Colombia produces 80% of the world's cocaine and is taking an increasing share of the U.S. heroin market. The vast sums of money earned by the traffickers have spawned corruption at every level of society." The exporting of drugs, along with Colombia's unwillingness to respect patent laws, strained both political and business relationships with the international community. Meanwhile, Betancourt's travels to outlying regions revealed that many Colombians lived in poverty with inadequate health and education facilities. She began to feel that her position as a bureaucrat limited her ability to propose and fight for the issues she cared about. In 1994 she resigned her position to run for a seat in the lower house.

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