Colombia: Ingrid Betancourt’s request for millions in damages sparks controversy

Former FARC guerilla hostage Ingrid Betancourt has asked for compensation from the Colombian government, alleging that her 2002 kidnapping resulted from state negligence. On July 9, the Colombian government announced that Betancourt had initiated legal action seeking $7 million in damages. “The state gravely failed in its duty in allowing a presidential candidate to travel in this part of the country without proper protection,” the court documents say, according to media reports.

Betancourt’s demand sparked bitter controversy, with Vice President Francisco Santos saying she wins the “world prize for ungratefulness.” Others, including Marc Gonsalves, a US national who was held hostage along with Betancourt, defended her claim. Betancourt’s lawyer Gabriel Devis issued a statement asserting that no one has been sued yet and that Betancourt is “deeply grateful” for her 2008 release in a Colombian army operation. (Latin America News Dispatch, July 12)

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