AUS DEM SPIEGEL
Ausgabe 50/2007

SPIEGEL Interview with Ingrid Betancourt's Son 'My Mother Is Slowly Fading'

Former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt has been held hostage by FARC rebels in Colombia since 2002. Her 19-year-old son Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt spoke to SPIEGEL about the recent proof that she is alive and the international efforts to secure her release.


SPIEGEL: First, new images of your mother in her jungle prison appeared, then the French government called for her release and made an offer to mediate talks with the hostage takers, the Marxist FARC guerrillas. Is there finally a chance she could get released?

Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt: There is, at least, the first real hope. The video message and the letter we received signalized that the FARC is apparently ready to come to an agreement. Now it is up to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to push through negotiations for the release of around 3,000 hostages who the rebels have been holding captive for years. Anyone who saw the pictures of my mother will know how much the prisoners are suffering.

SPIEGEL: Why is there suddenly movement now after years of stalemate?

Delloye-Betancourt: Thanks to France's exemplary role as a mediator, the FARC has surprisingly agreed to accept Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a negotiator. And he succeeded in getting them to provide proof that the hostages are alive. Colombia's President Uribe, who fell out with Chavez over this initiative, should accept his offer of help. We hope that the international community will put pressure on the Colombian president to push for a peaceful solution.

SPIEGEL: Are you afraid there could be an attack on the rebel's jungle hideout?

Delloye-Betancourt: If Uribe were to do so, he would cause an international crisis, because any offensive would result in the deaths of the hostages -- you can hear a military helicopter in the mountains from kilometers away. But Uribe is a hardliner and he is playing a double game. He has been talking about the possibility of a peace treaty with the FARC for more than five years. That's exactly what's needed.

SPIEGEL: Now Uribe is offering the rebels direct talks. They are demanding their own safe demilitarized zone.

FARC zones of influence.
DER SPIEGEL

FARC zones of influence.

Delloye-Betancourt: That was always his ultimate excuse: He could not give in when it came to the issue of this territory. If Uribe is interested in the release of the hostages, he has to make concessions. But so far there is no sign of this.

SPIEGEL: How is your mother's health?

Delloye-Betancourt: She is at the end of her tether. Of course we were happy to get the video. After all, it showed that she was alive. But on the other hand I felt so sad. She looked so lost in the pictures, so resigned. The letter to us made that even clearer -- it was a cry for help, a cry of desperation. When she writes, "we live here like the dead," then she is saying that she is slowly fading. Time is short, we need as much international support as possible. This message is almost like a last will and testament.

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