Colombian hostage video ignites a mother's anguish
Ingrid Betancourt's mother talks of her anguish
CARACAS, 3 December 2007
The mother of Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, who has spent years as a hostage of Marxist guerrillas, on Sunday urged her to stay strong after a video showed her looking forlorn but alive.
"I want you to keep up hope, because I am here and I am fighting for you and all the hostages. I will continue to fight until you are free," said Yolanda Pulecio in an interview with Venezuelan public television.
"Rest easy my dear, God will help us," said Pulecio between sobs. Her daughter was captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) while running for the presidency in 2002.
"May she not lose strength, may she maintain the courage she has always shown, may she think of her children, and may she be able to eat well," Pulecio added.
The footage provided the first images in years of Betancourt, a former Colombian senator, and 15 other hostages, including three American contractors of the US Defense Department who were captured while on an anti-drug mission.
The 16 seen on the tapes are among about 45 hostages the rebels want to swap for 500 FARC prisoners.
Pulecio expressed frustration over the slow pace of negotiations with the rebels, which suffered a fresh setback last week after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ended mediation efforts by Hugo Chavez, accusing the Venezuelan president of siding with the FARC.
Pulecios said she did not "understand why a serious and well-carried out process was broken off so abruptly," and also urged FARC leader Manuel Marulanda to "make a gesture" that will be "recognized around the world."
In a separate appeal broadcast on Colombian radio, Betancourt's daughter Melanie Delloye pleaded with the rebels to "take pity" on her mother.
In tears, the young woman asked her mother's captors to "make her conditions less harsh by giving her a dictionary, a radio in good condition and a coat" for the cold nights in the jungle.
Addressing her mother directly, Delloye said: "I want you to take care of yourself. It is vital that you do not lose hope ... because the day will come when we will be able to kiss you again, and we need you, so much," she said.
Delloye's father and Betancourt's ex-husband, Fabrice Delloye, expressed concern over the ex-senator's condition after seeing the video last week in which Betancourt looked depressed and apparently had one hand tied down.
"She is extremely thin and extremely tired. It shows there is a real emergency to get her out of there," he said at the time.
(copyright AFP 2007)