Action, not speculation, says Betancourt's ex-husband
In a rally on Saturday, the former husband of Colombian hostage said conflicting information should not be used in determining actions.21 April 2008
PARIS - The ex-husband of Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombian presidential candidate held hostage by Marxist rebels for over six years, called Saturday for action, not "speculation" as to her health.
Fabrice Delloye told a rally in Paris that politicians engaged in the fight to free Betancourt and 38 other political detainees were being distracted by varying third-party medical bulletins.
He said conflicting information should not be used to determine the urgency or otherwise of actions aimed at negotiating a release.
Delloye told the crowd outside Paris City Hall - where a giant picture of the gaunt-looking senator who also has French nationality hangs - that all the hostages were suffering from ill health.
"They are in a bad way because they have been in captivity for a terrifying amount of time," Delloye said.
"They are suffering from malnutrition, malaria, some from leishmaniasis (a parasitic infection of the skin), for others like Ingrid from hepatitis problems, or amoebic cysts, all of which means their state of health is extremely worrying.
"The aim is to get them out of there, not to speculate as to their condition to see if we need to act or not," he said.
Conflicting reports have circulated about Betancourt's health and well-being both before and after a recent French rescue mission was rejected by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has been mediating between the Colombian presidency and the FARC through his ties with radical Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on Friday that Betancourt was "well".
On Sunday Colombian Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the El Tiempo newspaper "Ingrid is chronically ill but she is not at imminent risk of death."
Betancourt's mother Yolanda Pulecio also told France 3 television from Bogota that her daughter was not as ill as the rumours made out.
The FARC rebels want an exchange with Colombia's government for 500 of their jailed fellow guerrillas, which would take place in a de-militarised zone, something Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe has yet to agree to.
[AFP / Expatica]