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Ingrid: "treated like an animal" in captivity

Latest update : 2008-07-04

After her press conference at the French Embassy, Ingrid Betancourt told France 2 television about her six-year ordeal at the hands of FARC rebels. FRANCE 24's Cyril Vanier reports from Bogotá.

Click here to send us your reactions following Ingrid Betancourt's rescue

Following are some quotes from Ingrid Betancourt's interview with France 2:

“It was no treatment for a human being. (…) I wouldn’t have forced the same treatment onto an animal or even a plant. It was just arbitrary cruelty, wickedness.

It was very hard but I believe that I come out of it stronger, humbler and with a heightened desire to give the best of myself. (…) Details of my family’s daily life [thanks to a small radio] were extremely important because they were the only link to the world that had once been mine so that I wouldn’t forget who I had been. It was important because I could have surrendered. It’s awful to say but when people treat you like a dog, you end up behaving like one.

When I was there, my wrists tied up, I felt violence mounting in me but I told myself that I shouldn’t give in to it. I didn’t want to feel these spasms of hatred which would leave me shaking from time to time. But I also told myself that, when I’m free, I want to be free of everything, free of hatred and vengeance. I think that these kind of feelings can enslave you. I think that I’m free because I’m still filled with hope, because I wish the best to every one of them [the FARC]. I wish them God’s mercy.

I was very sick [on pictures dated November 2007]. Here I would have recovered in half an hour. But in the jungle, without drugs and all the problems piling up on me, I couldn’t eat, I was losing weight by the day, I had lost my ability to move. I was prostrated in my hammock, I could hardly drink, I was in a very critical condition. But I was lucky to be able to get help from one of my companions who was a nurse, who took me under his wing and did what needed to be done. He managed to find drugs for me (…) he got them on the black market from the FARC. It was extremely difficult and humiliating. The order from the FARC was not to give me drugs.

I reached the moment when death becomes a possibility. I had seen one of my companions die and I knew death came quickly in the jungle. It comes suddenly at night. And I told myself that, given the state my body was in, incapable of any reaction, death was an option. So I made a spiritual effort to come to peace with myself and with God. And to accept it as a possibility.

When I wrote the letter, I wanted to free my family of any guilt. I didn’t want them to think that they had done something wrong. I wanted them to be happy in their lives without me. I was hoping my death could be liberation, liberation from my body that hurt so much and from this absurd drama that seemed to have no end. I thought death could be a better option than what I was going through then.”

Date created : 2008-07-04