13 June 2015

Ingrid Betancourt - FARC Prisoner 6 Years

Ingrid Betancourt was born Dec 25, 1961, in Bogota, Columbia. As a politician and a presidential candidate, she was celebrated for her determination to combat widespread corruption. In 2002 she was taken hostage by the FARC, a Columbian guerrilla organization. For six years, the FARC held her hostage in the Columbian jungle. She was rescued on July 2, 2008.

Ingrid Betancourt, without proselytizing politics, describes the day-to-day experiences and struggles of being a war zone hostage, along with other hostages, in primitive jungle conditions, constantly on the move. At one point, she aptly references the Stanford Prisoner Experiment, consciously aware of the psychological horror in her own prison/guard relationships, while trying to maintain her own humanity. This was her uncertain daily reality for six years.

Her book is the perfect companion book to The Lucifer Effect.

Even Silence has an End by Ingrid Betancourt, 2010, Excerpt
My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle

A few months before my abduction, I’d switched on the television and come on a fascinating documentary. In the 1970s, Stanford University had undertaken a simulation of prison conditions to study the behavior of ordinary people. The findings were astonishing. Well-balanced, normal young people disguised as guards, with the power to open and close doors, turned into monsters. Other young people, equally well balanced and normal, masquerading as prisoners, let themselves be mistreated. One guard dragged a prisoner over to a closet, where he could only stand, not sit, and left him there for hours, until he passed out. It was a game. However, faced with peer pressure, only one of them had been able to react “out of character” and demand that the experiment be stopped.

I know that FARC was playing with fire. That we were in an enclosed world, without cameras, without witnesses, at the mercy of our jailers. For weeks I had observed the behavior of these armed children, forced to act as adults. I could already detect all the symptoms of a relationship that could easily degenerate and turn poisonous. I thought it was possible to fight against it, by preserving one’s own character. But I also knew that peer pressure could turn those children into the guardians of hell.

When you’re chained by the neck to a tree, and deprived of all freedom – the freedom to move around, to talk, to eat, to drink, to carry out your most basic bodily needs – well, it took me several years to realize it, but you still have the most important freedom of all, which no one can take away from you: that is the freedom to choose what kind of person you want to be.

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