Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Free to Speak

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Free to Speak

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ON July 2, 2008, Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate, was finally freed from her jungle prison along with fourteen other hostages in a daring rescue by Colombian armed forces. Ms. Betancourt was kidnapped on February 23, 2002, by the leftist guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) while she was campaigning for the presidency. Ms. Betancourt had been a severe critic of the FARC.

After her long confinement and all of the media attention surrounding it, Ingrid Betancourt has now become an incredible symbol of the struggle for freedom in the world. The awards she has won from various countries and organizations, like the Prince of Asturias Award, express admiration for her courage in the face of adversity and emphasize the importance of defending those intangible values that are forgotten or trampled on a daily basis, primarily by the abuse of power. They are the values that give meaning to the human condition.

One of the things that has changed in our time (at least in perception) is the fact that women are more directly involved in wars and confrontations between human beings. Today, many women fill the ranks of armies and irregular armed groups, and they participate in combat just like the men. Every day there are also more women in jail because of their participation in crimes--in the various stages of the drug trade, for example. All of this makes them vulnerable to the violence and vengeance that are part of these realities.

The fact that a woman like Ingrid, or any woman, has been oppressed and humiliated by her captors for so many years is not only worthy of condemnation; it also shows how actions of this kind delegitimize any project or idea that claims to be about redeeming humanity or society. …

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