Clara Rojas says She Has “Forgiven” Ingrid Betancourt for Her Kidnapping

By Dialogo
April 14, 2009

SANTIAGO, April 12, 2009 (AFP) - Clara Rojas, former hostage of FARC Colombian guerrillas, said that she has "forgiven" her fellow-in-captivity, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, for her kidnapping, after releasing “Cautiva” (Captive), a book which recounts the six years she spent in the jungle. "Of course, I have forgiven Ingrid. The sense of my book is turning a page. Now I hope to start other projects that will allow me to forget," Rojas told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio in an interview published on Sunday. Ingrid Betancourt and Clara Rojas were abducted on February 23, 2002 while traveling to campaign for the first presidential election in the Colombian region of San Vicente del Caguan, a dangerous area due to the presence of guerrillas. "My mistake, if it existed, occurred that same day. I should have been firm with her (Betancourt), although it would have not been easy. I should have told her that I would not go, to see if she had the guts to go alone," said Rojas. During captivity, Bentancourt and Rojas drifted apart because of "situations that are not explainable. I myself cannot understand them. There was not a discrete situation, but various things that added up," said the former hostage. Clara Rojas said that after two escape attempts during the first month of captivity, she and Betancourt started to blame each other. The punishment after the second failed attempt - they were discovered due to Ingrid’s cries when she was attacked by wasps - was chaining. "I never made personal claims of any kind. But, of course, there are pains that you carry in your soul," said Rojas, who has only seen Ingrid Betancourt twice after she was released by the guerrillas in July 2008. Meanwhile, Rojas was released in January 2008 along with former Colombian congresswoman Consuelo González de Perdomo, as a gesture by the FARC toward Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. During her captivity, Rojas gave birth to a boy - Emmanuel - fathered by one of her captors. He was separated from his mother when he was eight months old by insurgents and given to a peasant. Upon her release, Rojas was reunited with her son, and both currently live in Bogotá.