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Betancourt Prepares Her Book Outside Colombia a Year after Her Rescue

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first_imgBy Dialogo July 02, 2009 Bogotá, July 1 (EFE).- A year after being rescued by the army, former presidential candidate and former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt lives outside Colombia. She is in the middle of a divorce, and is finishing a book that everyone predicts will be a best-seller. After six years as a hostage, Betancourt was freed on 2 July, 2008 during an undercover military operation known as “Operation Jaque” together with Americans Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes, as well as eleven Colombian police and military personnel, some of whom spent more than ten years captive in the jungle. In an operation that is considered almost a masterpiece of military intelligence and that took place a year ago tomorrow, a group of uniformed personnel passed themselves off as humanitarian aid workers and freed the fifteen hostages without firing a shot. “Thank you to the army of my country, Colombia, thank you for the impeccable operation; the operation was perfect,” were the first words of the former hostage when she arrived, free, in Bogotá that day. Betancourt, who was the most valuable hostage held by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was kidnapped on 23 February 2002 in the jungle department of Caquetá while campaigning for that year’s elections, two days after the breakdown of peace negotiations between the administration of then President Andrés Pastrana and the guerilla group. Both her friends and her critics acknowledge that her kidnapping took place in the context of what was almost a provocation, given that the civil and military authorities had recommended that she not go near the region dominated by the guerrillas at a moment of such tension. But her rebellious personality did not allow her to listen to this advice, and she was taken hostage together with her running mate, then-vice-presidential candidate Clara Rojas. She kept up this kind of “insolence” during her years of captivity, as her fellow kidnapping victims have recalled in various books published since their liberation. The most severe critics have been Americans Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes, who in their book “Out of Captivity” tell the story of how Ingrid protested when they arrived at the camp at which they met her for the first time because, in her view, this meant sharing the limited space available to the hostages. The Pentagon contractors, captured in 2003 when their airplane crashed in the jungle during an operation in search of FARC cocaine laboratories, recount that Betancourt accused them in front of their kidnappers of belonging to the CIA, placing them in serious danger. The Americans label Betancourt “selfish and lacking solidarity” when it came time to share food, clothing, radios, and books, essential items in the jungle that enabled them to survive better in that hell. Clara Rojas, although she has been discreet, has acknowledged that her relationship with Ingrid deteriorated because “she did not behave like a friend.” One of Betancourt’s unconditional supporters is former senator Luis Eladio Pérez, with whom she appears to have maintained a romantic relationship while kidnapped, according to the Americans’ account in their book. Another supporter is Sgt. William Pérez, a nurse who took care of Ingrid during her most difficult moments and who continues to correspond with her on a weekly basis, as he indicated to EFE. Once freed, Betancourt traveled to Paris, where she was reunited with her children, and where she has filed for divorce from publicist Juan Carlos Lecompte, her second husband, whom she married in Polynesia in 1997. Ingrid petitioned for divorce alleging “de facto separation” for years, while it seems that Lecompte feels offended by the “ingratitude” shown by his wife, according to a report published last week in Caras magazine . Following her rescue, the former presidential candidate traveled to various countries, and she was received by Latin American and European leaders, even the Pope, and was awarded several prizes, among them the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord , due to her “dignity” and “courage.” She was even a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, after being named “Woman of the Year 2008” by the organization Women’s World Award, sponsored by former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. In Colombia, these awards have been met with ill-will in some sectors, as many former hostages and members of civil society believe that Betancourt is no more deserving than other former kidnapping victims who continue to work for peace away from the spotlight. At present, Ingrid divides her time between Paris and New York, makes few public appearances, and is concentrating on writing her dramatic story, a book that even before reaching bookstores, it is destined to become a best-seller.last_img read more

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7 surprising ways you could be putting yourself in debt

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first_img 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Americans have $12.25 trillion in debt. That amount is actually 3.3 percent lower than the all-time high set in 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Even so, it’s worth considering how we got to the point of owing trillions of dollars.Mortgages make up the bulk of household debt — nearly 70 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Student loan balances account for another 10 percent. But that still leaves more than $2 trillion that Americans have borrowed to cover the cost of things other than homes and education.If you’re in debt, you might be wondering how you ended up owing so much. It might not be obvious. In fact, you might have money habits that you don’t even realize are contributing to your debt. Or, you might be borrowing for what seems like a good reason, but really you’re just hurting your finances. Here are seven surprising ways you might be putting yourself into debt — and tips on how to avoid this financial burden. continue reading »last_img read more

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Premier League clubs to resume training from today

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first_imgBy Simon EvansMANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Premier League clubs will return to training on Tuesday after agreeing to allow “small group” sessions to begin, with a possible return to normal ‘contact’ training next week.The league held a conference call for all 20 clubs on Monday where the move was given unanimous backing but there remains no firm date for the season to resume.Another meeting is scheduled for early next week when the league will decide on whether to move to the second phase which allows for training involving contact.It is the first move in the league’s ‘Project Restart’ plans to resume play in the league, which has not held a game since March 9 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.The league has set June 12 as a tentative date for a restart of action but chief executive Richard Masters said they were aware they would need to be flexible.“We have been focused on this staging post, it’s not a firm commitment, for June 12. What we are able to do today is basically to move forward on small group training,” Masters told reporters on a conference call.“Next week we are going to be discussing full contact training protocols.“Once you know when you can start full contact training, and we’ve had a proper discussion with clubs about how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing, we are then in a position to be able to confirm when the season start is.“What we don’t want to do is continually move that start date so we haven’t changed it. We need to be flexible and acknowledge we are in a step-by-step process,” he added.Failure to resume the season could cost the league around 750 million pounds ($913.80 million) in lost revenue from broadcasters according to British media estimates.Some reports said clubs could lose out even if the league restarts should broadcasters demand a 330 million pounds rebate.DOOR OPEN The Government last week opened the door for the return of elite sport, but several hurdles remain before the Premier League can resume behind closed doors with the aim of completing the remaining 92 matches of the season.Some players have expressed concern about the health risks involved in a return to play but Masters said the league had done its best to create a safe environment through consulting with government and health experts.“Clearly we cannot de-risk the entire thing. But I think what we have created is an extremely safe environment that is the first stage of a return to training. So hopefully we have reassured all players and managers on that basis,” he said, adding there would be further consultations ahead of each stage.Some managers, such as Newcastle United’s Steve Bruce, have expressed concern about whether there will be enough time for players to get match-fit before the league resumes.Mark Gillett, the Premier League’s medical advisor, said they were aware of the need for preparation time.“Safety is the key thing running through all the measures we’re putting in place. I spend a lot of my time in club football, so I do understand the need for football-specific training,” he said.“We will do everything possible to try and ensure that clubs get enough time to try and prepare in the best way possible, to keep them safe during games.”Clubs will have been encouraged by the return of the Bundesliga at the weekend — the first major soccer league in the world to resume after the lockdown.The prospect of clubs playing their remaining matches at neutral venues has receded with more than half speaking out against such a proposal.Safety measures for group training are expected to include tents where temperature checks will be conducted, strict hygiene criteria, no canteens and no showers. A maximum of five players will be allowed per pitch with tackling forbidden.Players will be tested twice a week and are being asked to provide written approval that they have received and understood the club’s COVID-19 policy.last_img read more

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