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Former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who spent 6½ years as a prisoner of FARC rebels, said on Thursday that Colombia needs unity to overcome the “dehumanization” brought on by five decades of armed conflict.

Betancourt, who now lives in London and last visited Colombia six years ago, took part in a forum organized by the Good Government Foundation and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.

“More than a victim, I am a survivor of a dehumanization process,” she said, recounting some of the most dramatic episodes of her captivity in the jungle, which began in February 2002 and ended in July 2008, when she and other politicians and security force members held by the FARC were rescued in a spectacular military operation.

Betancourt said the experience made her see that both captives and captors were “victims of dehumanization.”

She said the current peace process between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has had a “positive effect” on the way Colombians think and talk about the armed conflict.

“The time has for all of us to hug embrace each other as the Colombian family we must never cease to be,” Betancourt said to a standing ovation.

Latin America Herald Tribune |

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