Ingrid Betancourt can now start planning the rest of her life after her six-year ordeal in the Colombian jungle. The rescue operation was daring and unprecedented. Posing as aid workers, Colombian troops told her FARC captors they were transporting hostages to meet the rebel leader. She, eleven Colombians and three Americans were then whisked to freedom in a helicopter.
Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate, was seized after she chose to ignore warnings not to take her campaign into rebel territory. It was a decision she has had plenty of time to think about:
“I kept playing it out like a film in my head many times,” she said. “Had I been pressured? Had I been stubborn? Today, with hindsight, I feel it was my destiny. I feel I had to live through what I lived through, that I had to find out what I found out.”
It was a breakdown in the FARC’s chain of communication which allowed the undercover troops to simply walk off with the hostages. The rescue operation lasted just 22 minutes. Not a single shot was fired and not one FARC prisoner was given up in exchange. The gamble had paid off.