A personal account of six years of captivity in the Colombian jungle and the remarkable rescue that reunited her with her family. Diane is at a public radio conference in Denver. Former Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, survived what most people cannot even imagine. She has written about her ordeal in her new book, "Even Silence Has an End. Ingrid Betancourt joins me in the studio. Ingrid, thank you so much for coming in.
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I doubt that the author has read my review God, I hope not, anyway , and I know that very few people will care about this update. The only review of Even Silence Has an End on goodreads worth your time is this one. But the only thing more cowardly than posting this review in the first place would be to delete it and pretend it never happened.
So, here goes. That opinion, rather than my feelings about the book itself, was the driving force behind my review 6 years ago. I was wrong. There was no charm, magnetism, poise, or presence about her--no agenda, no performance, no attempt to disarm the crowd. And when I asked her my question which I immediately regretted doing , I fully expected to be upbraided, or at least met with a dismissive response. Instead, she was gracious enough to spend a significant amount of time trying to answer me.
And what about her answer, anyway? It was revealing. It was imperfect. It was raw and unrehearsed, jagged at times, sometimes rational, other times contradictory--yet it was clearly the truth as she saw it. In short, everything about her answer was human. Everything about her was human. And if everything about her was human, that means that when I wrote this review, I tore down one of us. This review has been here for 6 years for anyone who cared to read it.
Allow me to reposition it for the next person who stumbles across it and offer a counterpoint to my former something self who wrote it. The real narrative goes like this: --Ingrid Betancourt is the victim. She was kidnapped by terrorists, held captive, and brutalized for 6. Her decision to enter FARC territory could have been for any number of reasons--none of which matter.
International fame was built around her while she was in captivity, and it was thrust upon her when she was rescued. Disturbingly, all it took for her to fall out of favor was something that most would applaud: she criticized the government.
That took the form of angering one Colombian politician and then offending some Colombian judges by seeking compensation for her kidnapping. To build someone up--especially a woman--only to smack her down for misbehaving? Those of us who fell into that trap need to do better, lest we also want to debate the character of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Holocaust survivors, et.
Surviving 6. She went on to pen a memoir so well-written that parts of it border on sublime. That she never used her ordeal to push an agenda like, say, burning down the jungle and firebombing the fuckers that wronged her is admirable. It takes a lot more courage to be in the public eye, do cool things with your life, and bear it all with dignity.
But I can add a few edits to show what I think of it now. See revisions below. She lived through sheer hell, including infighting among her fellow hostages, swarms of biting jungle insects, marches during life-threatening illnesses through the never-ending Amazon, and sitting for months at a time with her neck chained to a tree.
Even Silence Has an End is one of the most beautiful books that you will ever read. Much of the memoir reads like poetry: "Freedom--such a precious jewel, one we were prepared to risk our lives for--would lose all its brilliance if it were to be worn in a life of regret," ; "Our words echoed in the air, beneath a heavenly dome that wore the dust of diamonds sprinkled alongside the constellations of our thoughts. She will take you beyond the depths of despair to a place without hope, to times when she had given up on life, could no longer eat, and could barely stand up.
Betancourt is more than a gifted writer and her words will charm you, seduce you, and likely leave you holding her in great reverence. And what about Ingrid Betancourt today? I want to believe her, I really do. It launched her to international stardom, scored her a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, the French love her more than their wine, and America is embracing her. Her book deal landed her millions on three separate continents. Two different films are being made about her ordeal.
If you take Betancourt at face value, then you likely also believe that Lolita really was a 12 year-old slut who wanted the old man to give it to her like a bad girl; you can stop reading here. She seems to suffer from delusions so strong that she actually believes them.
Her accounts read like hazy visions conjured up in an alarmingly high fever; even the sexual assault by nameless, faceless captors in the misty green airs of the humid jungle starts to make you wonder Betancourt describes heart to heart conversations with her female captors that sound fabricated.
She tells of a chance meeting with a nameless peasant, straight out of central casting, who warned Ingrid of visions of grave danger. Sure she did. Especially after Ingrid verbally trashed Clara for the first quarter of the book, snidely inferring that Rojas was sinking into madness.
Clara tells a very different story in her own memoir of captivity. At best, these things are contrived, at worst, they are blatant lies. I would never put it past a politician to lie, but Betancourt, despite multiple claims to the contrary seems convinced of their veracity. Someone needs to pass the lithium. When not attacking her fellow hostages on every page, Betancourt slips in unnecessary petty details for an extra sting, such as Rojas leaving the bathroom an "unspeakable mess," or another captive bragging about the cost of his engagement ring.
One wonders just why these things needed to be in print, other than the fact that Betancourt is clearly out for blood. What we have here is a book written by a woman whose personal trauma and highly cultivated public persona are battling it out on the page. The public persona wins, of course. Read this beautiful book. Enjoy it. Savor it.
Even Silence Has an End
Share via Email Ingrid Betancourt was held in the jungle for six years. This picture was released in I thought, pre-capture by the Marxist-Leninist insurgents, that Betancourt was a spoilt product of the bourgeoisie. I believed her capture was the result of bad judgment. I assumed she had ventured with a team from her political party, Oxygen Green, into a dangerous area known for ambushes, because she was seeking publicity for her presidential campaign.
The Uribe government, seeming to have gradually relaxed its position, announced that it had given the FARC a formal proposal on 23 July, in which it offered to free 50 to 60 jailed rebels in exchange for the political and military hostages held by the FARC group not including economic hostages, as the government had earlier demanded. The proposal would have been carried out with the backing and support of the French and Swiss governments, who publicly supported it once it was revealed. The move was signaled as potentially positive by several relatives of the victims and Colombian political figures. Some critics of the president have considered that Uribe may seek to gain political prestige from such a move, though they would agree with the project in practice. While making note of the fact that a proposal had been made by the Uribe administration and that it hoped that common ground could eventually be reached, the FARC criticized the offer because they believe that any deal should allow them to decide how many of its jailed comrades would be freed and that they should be allowed to return to the rebel ranks. The FARC proposed that the government declare a "security" or "guarantee" zone for 72 hours in order for official insurgent and state negotiators to meet face to face and directly discuss a prisoner exchange.