Conflict & Justice

Betancourt in the spotlight

(How prominent is Betancourt's face and voice in the media there?) It's been a whirlwind of activity here: many tiny receptions, and this has been Betancourt week here. she's been on the cover of many papers and magazines. But what's interesting is she has no constituency. She's not like Nelson Mandela, so it's really been her personality that's been guiding her. (What about French President Sarkozy? He's made a cause celebrity case out of her. What is his interest in her?) She's the hero of the moment so in some ways Sarkozy just wanted to use that and be a part of it. Sarkozy looked like he almost rescued her directly. (There are people who blame Betancourt for being na�ve and getting too close to the FARC. Is there any mention of that in France?) The press in France has been somewhat star struck by her cause, but some questions about Betancourt are now starting to emerge. She's from an aristocratic family and she developed an interest in Colombia rather later in her life, and she did wonder into FARC territory. (Betancourt has been through so much, but does she seem to be playing up her own image?) I think there's no doubt she has survived an extraordinary difficult ordeal, but the images of her coming out are almost Madonna like. So it's tough to evaluate the motives behind her presentation post-rescue.

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