Friday, 5 November 2010

Another snippet from Ingrid

I have already posted a snippet from Ingrid Betancourt's book, Even Silence Has an End. It would be wrong to take from that post, and this one, the idea that the book is a work of devoutness and piety. It isn't. But the presence of moments of religious faith in the book is almost "natural". As you read the book you happen across them, as if they are a natural part of Ingrid's life.

Some of the captives held with Ingrid by FARC were more "political" than "military". Like Ingrid herself, the FARC was holding them as an exchange for FARC prisoners held by the Colombian government. Other prisioners, like the policemen and soldiers who had been captured by FARC, were closer to being prisoners of war - though FARC did demand financial ransom for their release. The non-political hostages were much more vulnerable to reprisal or being killed if they tried to escape - the FARC did not lose as much from their death as they would have lost from the deaths of, say, Ingrid and the three Americans held with her.

In this excerpt, Ingrid is giving advice to one the policeman held with her just before he makes an escape attempt.
"Yes, and be careful where you put your feet. Try to get out [of the river] where there's a bed of leaves, or in the mangrove. You have to make absolutely sure not to leave any traces"
"Wring out your clothes, set up your compass, and walk due north."
He listened.
"Stop every forty-five minutes and take a good look around. And use the time to call upstairs, so he'll give you a hand."
"I don't believe in God."
"It doesn't matter, he won't be offended. You can call him anyway. If he doesn't reply, call Mary - she's always available"
He smiled ....
Soon after Pinchao's escape, the FARC guerillas holding Ingrid and her fellow captives staged an execution of him in the nearby forest to give the impression that he had been recaptured. At some points in their captivity, the hostages had access to radios - and this was one of them. There were two regular programmes which broadcast messages from friends and relatives of FARC hostages, in the hope that the hostages would be able to hear them, and these were listend to keenly in the camp whenever it was possible. Soon after Pinchao's execution:
We all switched on our radios at the same time. The voice of the reporter announced the news, and it echoed round the camp. "After seventeen days of walking, police subintendent Jhon Frank Pinchao has found his freedom and his family once again. Here are his first words".

Then I heard Pinchao's voice, full of light in our starless night:

"I would like to send a message to Ingrid. I know she's listening to me at this moment. I want her to know I owe her the greatest gift of all. Thanks to her, I have found my faith again. My little Ingrid, your Virgin Mary was there for me when I called to her. She put a police patrol on my path."

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