Betancourt memoir faces hostile reaction from fellow ex-hostages
Sep 21, 2010, 6:43 GMT
Bogota - Former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt faced criticism Tuesday over a book detailing her six years as a hostage of leftist rebels in the Colombian jungle, due to go on sale later in the day.
Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped with Betancourt in 2002 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, charged that the book contains 'lies and spite.'
Rojas, who bore a son in 2006 while being held hostage, did not request to have the child in captivity as Betancourt described in her book, Rojas said. 'How dare she insinuate something like that without evidence,' she told W Radio.
In fact, Betancourt suggested to her that she hand her son Manuel over to the rebels and forget about him, said Rojas, who wrote her own account of her captivity in 2009 under the title Captive.
Rojas, who had served as Betancourt's vice presidential running mate and campaign manager, also said Betancourt had not contacted her in the two years since they were freed in separate operations.
In Even Silence Has an End (Meme le silence a une fin), Betancourt writes of daily life in the camp, the humiliations and brutal guards, her five failed attempts to escape and the tense relationships among prisoners.
The worst, the Franco-Colombian wrote, was not knowing when captivity would come to an end. She also made it clear that she was sexually abused, the French newspaper Le Monde reported.
Other former hostages who spent time in captivity alongside Betancourt have also spoken out against her.
The criticism has taken some of the shine off the former politician, who was initially feted after her release with talk of nomination for a Nobel Prize and a renewed run for the presidency.
In addition to the accusations of arrogance from fellow captives, her husband has filed for divorce, citing her infidelity and ungratefulness.
Her request for millions of dollars worth of compensation from the Colombian government, which she later withdrew, has brought her further disapproval.
Betancourt has spent the past year and a half away from the public eye to write her memoir. Her strength of will and character are unmistakably apparent from the text, Le Monde reported.
But the account also reveals moments of self-criticism, the report said.
Betancourt writes how the other hostages were resentful of her celebrity status, which made her the focus of the international campaign for their release.
'I wasn't sensitive enough to understand their despair,' she said. 'I saw myself as a symbol that could be useful for all of us. I did not understand that everyone needs to have a face.'
Betancourt had intended to write in Spanish but ultimately found the experience too painful and turned to French, the language of her school years, she told Le Monde.