This year’s Asturias Concord prize, awarded to an individual or body that has made a significant contribution to peace, understanding, or knowledge worldwide, has been won by former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
The jury praised her as an example to people worldwide who campaign against the loss of liberty, terrorism, drug trafficking, and violence, and fight for human rights.
Betancourt was kidnapped by FARC guerillas while campaigning in 2002 and only released earlier this year after a gruelling captivity.
She was convinced of the need to travel to areas suffering under the FARC insurgency against the advice of Colombian officials. As she said, she needed to be with the people there “during the good and the bad”, and this courage stood her in good stead while imprisoned.
She had French nationality thanks to a marriage with a French diplomat, who she later divorced, which gave her a more international profile. This meant Paris worked hard to get her freed, but she was eventually sprung in a daring helicopter rescue organised by one-time political rival President Alvaro Uribe, along with 14 other hostages.