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Ingrid Betancourt: 1961—: Politician

Launched Presidential Campaign

In the fall of 2001 Betancourt traveled throughout Colombia, accompanied by bodyguards, in a 25-year-old Dodge minibus as she campaigned for president. Her campaign once again utilized novel methods when she handed out Viagra pills to symbolize the need to reinvigorate Colombia. Several other candidates also entered the race, making her challenge difficult. Both Liberal Horacio Serpa, a former interior minister, and Alvaro Uribe, a former governor of the Antioquia province, were well-connected in Colombian politics. Former British Ambassador Noemi Sanin, the first Colombian woman to head a corporation, also entered the race. Despite the competition and initial low poll numbers, Betancourt remained undeterred. "I will win and I will do it by taking my campaign directly to ordinary Colombians," she told Lennard of the Guardian. "I can count on the regional media for good coverage and the rest is me, face to face with the people."

Betancourt's willingness to take risks and offer assistance to Colombia's rural population have made her a folk hero, but her direct methods have also made her unpopular with other politicians. Lennard wrote, "To her supporters, she is the only hope for a fairer Colombia. To her detractors, she is rude and hysterical, a self-promoting hypocrite who trumpets her concern for others while seeking power for herself." Betan-court, however, seemed nonplussed by her critics. She told Damien Cave in Salon, "The criticism is really a way of undermining my struggle [against corruption].… I'm fighting to clean my country to have a democracy that's as strong and as effective as the one you have here in America, Europe and other countries."

Although she was still being held by FARC at the time of the election, Betancourt's name remained on the ballet. She lost the May of 2002 election, and, despite diplomatic efforts, remained in captivity.



Betancourt, Ingrid, Until Death Do Us Part, Harper-Collins, 2002, pp. 18, 22, 228.


Dallas Morning News, May 27, 2002, p. 1A.

Guardian (London), November 10, 2001, p. 97.

Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1998, p. A1.

New York Times, November 17, 2001, A4.

New York Times Magazine, July 2, 2000, p. 37.

Time International, May 24, 1999, p. 58.

—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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