Betancourt wins bravery award

2008-09-10 20:06

Madrid - Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six years as a hostage in Colombia's jungles, won a prestigious humanitarian award in Spain on Wednesday in recognition of her bravery and fight for democracy.

The former Colombian presidential candidate said she was dedicating the prize to the many other Colombians who have been held captive by the country's leftist rebels.

Betancourt received a Prince of Asturias prize in a category that honours those who work for peace or fight poverty, injustice or disease, or otherwise endeavour to help mankind.

The dual Colombian-French citizen was freed by the Colombian military in July along with 14 other hostages in a daring, covert military rescue operation.

World symbol of freedom

"Ingrid Betancourt has become a world symbol of freedom and human resistance in the face of the toughest adversities," the jury said in a statement. "Her fight for democracy has been a hopeful example of dignity and bravery for the whole world."

It added: "Ingrid Betancourt personifies all those in the world who are denied freedom for defending human rights as well as the fight against terrorist violence, corruption and drug trafficking."

Betancourt reacted saying she did not deserve the prize but her country does - "my beloved homeland, Colombia, thirsty for harmony and peace".

Betancourt said she wished to accept the prize on behalf of other Colombians with whom she was held hostage, some of whom she said remain in captivity and others who died during it.

"I would like this prize to ease the sadness of their families, in recognition of their great sacrifice," she said in a statement released by the Prince of Asturias Foundation.

  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have a long-standing policy of kidnapping for ransom or political leverage.

    - AP

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