What six years in captivity taught me about fear and faith (English subtitles) | Ingrid Betancourt

What six years in captivity taught me about fear and faith (English subtitles) | Ingrid Betancourt


Translator: Camille Martínez The first time I felt fear I was 41 years old. People have always said I was brave. When I was little,
I’d climb the highest tree, and I’d approach any animal fearlessly. I liked challenges. My father used to say, “Good steel can withstand
any temperature.” And when I entered into
Colombian politics, I thought I’d be able
to withstand any temperature. I wanted to end corruption; I wanted to cut ties between politicians
and drug traffickers. The first time I was elected, it was because I called out, by name, corrupt and untouchable politicians. I also called out the president for his ties to the cartels. That’s when the threats started. I had to send my very young children
out of the country one morning, hidden, all the way to the airport,
in the French ambassador’s armored car. Days later, I was the victim of an attack,
but emerged unharmed. The following year, the Colombian people elected me
with the highest number of votes. I thought people applauded me
because I was brave. I, too, thought I was brave. But I wasn’t. I had simply never before experienced true fear. That changed on February 23, 2002. At the time, I was a presidential
candidate in Colombia promoting my campaign agenda, when I was detained
by a group of armed men. They were wearing uniforms
with military garments. I looked at their boots; they were rubber. And I knew that the Colombian army
wore leather boots. I knew that these were FARC guerrillas. From that point on,
everything happened very quickly. The commando leader ordered us
to stop the vehicle. Meanwhile, one of his men
stepped on an antipersonnel mine and flew through the air. He landed, sitting upright, right in front of me. We made eye contact and it was then
that the young man understood: his rubber boot with his leg still in it had landed far away. (Sighs) He started screaming like crazy. And the truth is, I felt — as I feel right now,
because I’m reliving these emotions — I felt at that moment
that something inside of me was breaking and that I was being infected
with his fear. My mind went blank and couldn’t think; it was paralyzed. When I finally reacted, I said to myself, “They’re going to kill me, and I didn’t say goodbye to my children.” As they took me into
the deepest depths of the jungle, the FARC soldiers announced that if the government didn’t negotiate, they’d kill me. And I knew that the government wouldn’t negotiate. From that point on, I went to sleep in fear every night — cold sweats, shaking, stomach ache, insomnia. But worse than that
was what was happening to my mind, because my memory was being erased:
all the phone numbers, addresses, names of very dear people, even significant life events. And so, I began to doubt myself,
to doubt my mental health. And with doubt came desperation, and with desperation came depression. I was suffering notorious
behavioral changes and it wasn’t just paranoia
in moments of panic. It was distrust, it was hatred, and it was also the urge to kill. This, I realized when they had me
chained by the neck to a tree. They kept me outside that day, during a tropical downpour. I remember feeling an urgent need
to use the bathroom. “Whatever you have to do, you’ll do in front of me, bitch,” the guard screamed at me. And I decided at that moment to kill him. And for days, I was planning, trying to find
the right moment, the right way to do it, filled with hatred, filled with fear. Then suddenly, I rose up, snapped out of it and thought: “I’m not going to become one of them. I’m not going to become an assassin. I still have enough freedom to decide who I want to be.” That’s when I learned that fear brought me face to face with myself. It forced me to align my energies, to align my meridians. I learned that facing fear could become a pathway to growth. A lot of emotions arise
when I talk about all of this, but when I think back, I’m able to identify the steps I took to do it. I want to share three of them with you. The first was to be guided by principles. Because I realized that in the midst of panic
and mental block, if I followed my principles, I acted correctly. I remember the first night in a concentration camp
that the guerrillas had built in the middle of the jungle, with 12-foot-high bars, barbed wire, lookouts in the four corners and armed men pointing
guns at us 24 hours a day. That morning, the first morning, some men arrived, yelling: “Count off! Count off!” My fellow hostages woke up, startled, and began to identify themselves
in numbered sequence. But when it was my turn, I said, “Ingrid Betancourt. If you want to know if I’m here,
call me by my name.” The guards’ fury was nothing compared
to that of the other hostages, because, obviously they were scared — we were all scared — and they were afraid that, because of me,
they would be punished. But for me, beyond fear was the need
to defend my identity, to not let them turn me into
a thing or a number. That was one of the principles: to defend what I considered to be human dignity. But make no mistake: the guerrillas had it all very well analyzed — they had been kidnapping for years, and they had developed a technique to break us, to defeat us, to divide us. And so, the second step was to learn how to build
supportive trust, to learn how to unite. The jungle is like a different planet. It’s a world of shadows, of rain, with the hum of millions of bugs — majiña ants, bullet ants. I didn’t stop scratching a single day
while I was in the jungle. And of course, there were tarantulas,
scorpions, anacondas … I once came face to face
with a 24-foot long anaconda that could have swallowed me in one bite. Jaguars … But I want to tell you that none of these animals
did us as much harm as the human beings. The guerrillas terrorized us. They spread rumors. Among the hostages,
they sparked betrayals, jealousy, resentment, mistrust. The first time I escaped
for a long time was with Lucho. Lucho had been a hostage
for two years longer than I had. We decided to tie ourselves up with ropes to have the strength
to lower ourselves into that dark water full of piranhas and alligators. What we did was, during the day,
we would hide in the mangroves. And at night, we would leave, get in the water, and we would swim
and let the current carry us. That went on for several days. But Lucho became sick. He was diabetic, and he fell into a diabetic coma. So the guerrillas captured us. But after having lived
through that with Lucho, after having faced fear together, united, not punishment, not violence — nothing — could ever again divide us. What’s certain is, all the guerrillas’ manipulation
was so damaging to us that even today, among some of the hostages from back then, tensions linger, passed down from all that poison that the guerrillas created. The third step is very important to me, and it’s a gift
that I want to give to you. The third step is to learn
how to develop faith. I want to explain it like this: Jhon Frank Pinchao was a police officer who had been a hostage
for more than eight years. He was famous for being
the biggest scaredy-cat of us all. But Pincho — I called him “Pincho” — Pincho decided that he wanted to escape. And he asked me to help him. By that point, I basically had
a master’s degree in escape attempts. (Laughter) So we got started but we had a delay, because first, Pincho
had to learn how to swim. And we had to carry out
all these preparations in total secrecy. Anyway, when we finally
had everything ready, Pincho came up to me
one afternoon and said, “Ingrid, suppose I’m in the jungle, and I go around and around in circles,
and I can’t find the way out. What do I do?” “Pincho, you grab a phone, and you call the man upstairs.” “Ingrid, you know I don’t believe in God.” “God doesn’t care. He’ll still help you.” (Applause) It rained all night that night. The following morning, the camp woke up to a big commotion, because Pincho had fled. They made us dismantle the camp,
and we started marching. During the march, the head guerrillas told us
that Pincho had died, and that they had found his remains eaten by an anaconda. Seventeen days passed — and believe me, I counted them,
because they were torture for me. But on the seventeenth day, the news exploded from the radio: Pincho was free and obviously alive. And this was the first thing he said: “I know my fellow hostages are listening. Ingrid, I did what you told me. I called the man upstairs, and he sent me the patrol
that rescued me from the jungle.” That was an extraordinary moment, because … obviously fear is contagious. But faith is, too. Faith isn’t rational or emotional. Faith is an exercise of the will. It’s the discipline of the will. It’s what allows us to transform
everything that we are — our weaknesses, our frailties, into strength, into power. It’s truly a transformation. It’s what gives us the strength to stand up in the face of fear look above it, and see beyond it. I hope you remember that, because I know we all need to connect with that strength
we have inside of us for the times when there’s a storm
raging around our boat. Many, many, many, many years passed before I could return to my house. But when they took us, handcuffed,
into the helicopter that finally took us out of the jungle, everything happened as quickly
as when they kidnapped me. In an instant, I saw the guerrilla commander at my feet, gagged, and the rescue leader, yelling: “We’re the Colombian army! You are free!” The shriek that came out of all of us when we regained our freedom, continues to vibrate in me to this day. Now, I know they can divide all of us, they can manipulate us all with fear. The “No” vote on the peace
referendum in Colombia; Brexit; the idea of a wall
between Mexico and the United States; Islamic terrorism — they’re all examples
of using fear politically to divide and recruit us. We all feel fear. But we can all avoid being recruited using the resources we have —
our principles, unity, faith. Yes, fear is part of the human condition, as well as being necessary for survival. But above all, it’s the guide by which each of us builds our identity, our personality. It’s true, I was 41 years old
the first time I felt fear, and feeling fear was not my decision. But it was my decision
what to do with that fear. You can survive crawling along, fearful. But you can also rise above the fear, rise up, spread your wings, and soar, fly high, high, high, high,
until you reach the stars, where all of us want to go. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What six years in captivity taught me about fear and faith (English subtitles) | Ingrid Betancourt

  1. What an incredible woman. So inspiring and glad she shared her talk. From me to you – thank you for all you've done.

  2. Esta mujer es una farsante asesina . Hay testimonios de secuestrados junto a ella que aseguran se convirtio en la puta de un FARC y que robaba la comida de los otros secuestrados .

  3. WOW!!!…I am a changed person after watching this video! No more room for FEAR in my life! Amazing testimony.

  4. Un testimonio maravilloso. Espeluznante en los momentos críticos. Una gran lección de supervivencia y de superación.

  5. She's hated in france because everybody know she wasn't really in captivity but in'love and living with one of her "supposedly" kidnaper…. So she left france for colombia. Good !! Thank'to the equivalent of french cia to reveal us the truth bout her.

  6. This woman is consider a pariah in my country. While captive she was a complete selfish person and it was her own fault why se was kidnap. So sorry that TED let this woman have such important stage.

  7. IT WAS HER FAULT TO get KIDNAPPED BUT SHE'S NOT TELLING THAT PART, SHE WANTED TO BE CAUGHT ,. SHE LOVES THE SPOTLIGHT , LOOK HOW GOOD IT WORKED.

  8. Esta mujer fue víctima de un crimen atroz, algo que sólo cabe en una película de horror. No es posible que además de eso deba cargar con el odio y la rabia de sus compatriotas. Trabajemos en el amor al prójimo, en la compasión.

  9. Let's stop these nationalist from dividing us with fear. Let's overcome terror with principled action, unity and faith.

    #NoNationalBorder

  10. She presents her experience as a victim of the Colombian conflict, but she was victim of herself, she didn't mention that the Colombian government ask her not to go the the jungle, she's the dumbest person I cannot believe she is in TED. I'm sure she suffered during that time, but if you read more about her life you will find how toxic is this person

  11. I am deeply touched with what Ingrid told us. Thank you for sharing your shocking and uplifting experience.

  12. What happened to you TED?
    You used to be cool.
    How much did that woman paid to tell her sad half-made-up story?
    Ask all her hostage "buddies", ask us Colombians… we don't care about her martyr stories.

  13. I know you think this is very inspiring, but I am Colombian and there are somethings you don't know. First of all, she and her family come from a very snobbish aristocratic family which people didn't really like because they are straight up classists. Second, the government bent backwards to rescue her, a thing they don't even do for mayors or 99% of the people, making soldiers pose as red cross personnel, which is supposed to be a neutral entity (making the move completely illegal), and then after getting freed, she moves away to France and sues the government that had just freed her. This caused the Colombian's people opinion of her sink even more. Don't build your criteria on a TED talk. 15 minutes is not a good way to get the whole picture. This lady and her family are just opportunistic snobs. There are women way more strong than her and less hypocritical

  14. Odiada y querida al mismo tiempo, mas alla del odio seria bueno tomar en cuenta un poco de lo que dice, no soy colombiano pero hay que estar en los zapatos de alguien para poder juzgar.

  15. Amazing talk. Although, I don't agree with Ingrid's idea about the US-Mexico wall that Trump's trying to build. So many of America's jobs are being outsourced to other countries, and so many immigrants, either legal or illegal, are entering this country and taking even more jobs. This job limbo is hurting the economy severely, and it's not sustainable for the country.

  16. As a Colombian I found this video funny but at the same time interesting , when she talk about her captivity, I laught, since for the time of her kidnapping, everyone knew that the Caguan (the place where las FARC, captured her) was a place extremely dangerous, that was because for the time, this place beloged almost entirely to las FARC,  even the colombian army told her to "not go there", but she was doing for the time her election campaign. To sumarise, she knew that the place was dangerous, but aparently she was the only one that didn't  realiced that. The most funny of all is that she seems to blame the army for what hapened. Is pretty much like giving to and adult a loaded gun and tell him or her that is loaded and after this person shoot himself, then start to blame everyone for its own mistake…… this is just hilarious. 
    But after I saw the video I must recognize that I like what she say to overcome fear, but It's truly a shame how the quality of the people invited to give TED talks has been decreasing lately.

  17. Si, es lo suficientemente valiente como para pedir una indemnización por parte del estado POR UN RIESGO EN EL QUE ELLA MISMA INCURRIÓ, y además no cualquier indemnización UNA MILLONADA, y después ser tan CÍNICA que es capaz de salir a decir que era "una suma simbólica". Y después capitalizarlo con libros, entrevistas, programas de TV y hasta un trampolín para reencaucharse en política… Si hay que ser valiente, le tiene que faltar a uno sangre en la cara para hacer una cosa así.

    Qué decepción Ted…

  18. Doing so well, so inspiring, right until the politics at the very end. By adding an unnecessary appeal to leftist/globalists, she commits a soft version of the same crime of division she spoke against.

  19. Started well but i had to stop watching. I admire her and she is a great women for the way she fought, it doesnt mean that everything she says should be taken as the way it is and will be. This was her experience and should be taken as that but no more.
    Dead people cant speak about how they overcame adversity and how god saved them and how you should have faith, she played her position because she knew she was very valuable person to her abductors.
    Many people that where taken, got killed very quickly regardless of faith or believe or the determination that they might have had to stay sane or human.
    What I also dislike is that this will also feed more people into the idea of believe blindly and follow blindly because you will prevail, say that to the the families that where devastated by all the dead ones, that also belived and where killed.

  20. 02:07 Se le olvidó mencionar que ella decidió, de manera obstinada e irreflexiva, realizar el viaje a una zona de alta peligrosidad (viaje en el que la secuestraron) aún cuando las autoridades militares y de policía le habían advertido del riesgo que corrían ella y su equipo de trabajo. (Eso está bien documentado por la prensa). Precisamente tiempo después de haber sido liberada por el Ejercito de Colombia, la señora Betancourt presentó una demanda económica al Estado por haber sido secuestrada. Tuvo que retirar la demanda debido al eminente rechazo que dicha demanda tuvo en medio de la sociedad civil.
    09:45 Los organizadores del TED debieron haberse documentado bien. Hubieran sabido que en Ingrid Betancourt fue bien conocida entre sus compañeros de cautiverio por romper toda armonía y sentido de unidad posible.

  21. Te admiro Ingrid. En tu primer libro pude comprender mejor la realidad corrupta de Colombia y tu tesón como persona política, y en el libro que relatas la experiencia del secuestro te confieso que lloré por tristeza y por lo injusto que puede llegar a ser el ser humano, me mostraste el lado más oscuro de la humanidad y a su vez el lado más fuerte. Te admiro mucho. Cuando me enteré que fuiste rescatada también lloré de felicidad. Gracias por tus palabras.

  22. Didn't she sue Colombian government (in other words citizen's money) for more than 15 billion Colombian pesos that would be five million and four hundred dollars. I mean I feel so sorry for what happened to her but I think it was a reality at that time in Colombia. She didn't take the necessary precautions and now she believes she is special over I don't know how many others were kidnapped to get that HUGEEE compensation. UNBELIEVABLE

  23. Es increible como esta mujer esta engañando a todos los que no saben la verdad y estan mirando este video…cuando ella misma esta vinvulada con el grupo guerrillero de Colombia…que hipocrita hija de Pu……!
    A aquellos que no saben ella estaba en el mismo campamento donde estaban los americanos que fueron secuestrados en Colombia…. no les cuento mas y hagan su propia investigacion..!

  24. Como Hay gente q hace las veses de Dios para juzgar una persona como está señora q sufrió como Jesucristo no hay deŕecho q halla gente tan suelta de labia en éste colombia gasss

  25. All bullshit, that lady did not go through that, it was just a political strategy. Great actress, give her an Oscar.

  26. The government told her several times that it wasn't safe to go and meet them …however she didn't listen and she insisted to go on her own…then she plays the victim?

  27. Ella fue advertida por el gobierno y la embajada americana de mi pais Colombia que no se metiera a ese territorio, pero terca y en campaña por la presidencia se metió allá porque su ego y soberbia no le permitían otra cosa. Las Farc hicieron lo suyo y ella tuvo que aprender. No se menciona que su esposo de entonces Movió cielo y tierra durante todo el tiempo de su secuestro y lo que recibió como agraedecimiento el dia que fue liberada fue un beso en la mejilla y los papeles de divorcio. Claro… no iba a compartir con nadie las ganancias que se le iban a venir con su imagen de martir.

  28. Es increible que salga en TEDx como una heroina pero la historia tiene dos caras. Clara Rojas, su compañera de campaña en ese tiempo, siguio en Colombia y esta en Colombia y fue secuestrada con ella. Hay una gran diferencia. Si, Ingrid fue secuestrada y sufrio mucho como otras personas más. No fue la unica. Ella no representa a Colombia, se representa a si misma. Hay que tener el contexto del secuestro y no solo quedarse con una corta historia de 20 min por este medio.

  29. Después de vivir ese horror, ahora los defiende? Eso es incoherente! La rescató el gobierno de Uribe y actualmente lo critica? Eso es ser uno muy Desagradecido!!!
    Uno no sabe ni que pensar…

  30. Why do some people hate her? The only bad comment about her I read here is that she knew she was in risk and yet she went there. But the government should deal with terrorism, not civilians. It’s like having a country with rapists and blaming women for living there and being raped. Let’s say she did make a mistake when she went to a dangerous place (I still don’t know why she went there but I assume it wasn’t on holiday), but that’s not a reason to hate someone. Unless someone makes this clearer, I have the impression that the government didn’t like her, and with help from the media, as usual, they made people think she’s the bad guy. As Malcolm X said: If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

  31. This was a cruel episode like thousands in the history of Colombia. She as a public woman generates hatreds and passions. We must not forget, first of all, that Ingrid was another victim of the violence in our country. 😢

  32. con todo y esto defiende a sus captores y ataca a los q la liberaron …………………..un ser inentendible

  33. Some colombians love her. Some colombians… not really.

    Obviously half the story is missing. I wish her the best but if you really want to know the truth, do your own research. Or read the comments below, there's some truth in them.

  34. Ingrid, bravo! Una dura y un legado que nos ha dejado lecciones más que políticas, humanísticas.

  35. If you research the whole story, you would know that she made an irresponsible decision going there despite of the prohibition of the government. They made her sign a Doc. about it. And after the Colombian government did everything to freed her, she went to Sue the government that rescued her. Why she didn't sued the kidnappers?
    Investiga la historia y te darás cuenta de que Ella tomó la decisión más irtesponsable a pesar de la prohibición expresa del gobierno de ir a una zona que en aquel momento estaba bajo el control de Los terroristas.
    El gobierno hizo un esfuerzo enorme para liberala, usando simbolos de la Cruz roja internacional. Poco tiempo después de liberada Demandó al gobierno que la rescató. No entiendo porqué no demando a quienes la secuestraron?
    Yo soy Colombiana, por eso se la verdad sobre esta señora y es por eso que para la mayoría de los Colombianos Ella es una traidora.

  36. Aqui juzgan mucho ha esta mujer y en la realidad como colombiano se todo lo que sufrio ella y todos los demas secuestrados ademas ella misma y la misma clara rojas dijo que no era cierto entonces yo pienso como podemos juzgar si no somos nadie para hacerlo el unico que puede hacer eso es Dios y si me solidarizo con ella y todos los demas y si fuera yo en sus zapatos tambien hubiera cobrado primero porque el estado estaba en la obligacion de no tener esa guerra que nosotros los civiles no teniamos que ver y si por miedo que me fueran ha secuestrar otra vez o intentar un atentado tambien hubiera salido del pais es algo normal no se porque tanto odio hacia esta martir nadie tiene derecho ha secuestralo ha uno y privarlo de sus seres queridos 6 años perdidos en una selva y el que este libre de pecado que tire la primera piedra

  37. No entiendo por que tan poca gente a visto este video, es increible la sobrervivencia de esta Sra. y sobre todo que se atreva a revivir los hechos y compartirlo la verdad increíble y admirable como ahora sigue siendo la misma persona con sus valores bien puestos la gente no manda en ti tu mandas en ti que mujer, mis respetos 👏🏻🙏🏻❤️

  38. I am from Colombia myself. I like and admire this woman. I love to hear her talk in Spanish, English and French. I love the fact she did get 7 million Euros in advance for her book. She is a symbol.

    Symbols have not only friends but also enemies and detractors. So be it!

  39. En mi vida cuando situaciones aterradoras me han llegado y me paralizan, lo UNICO QUE ME SALVO y salva es FE. FE es un arte tremendamente dificil de lograr, especialmente cuando la situacion esta ahogandonos, maltratandonos, no sabemos que hacer, como hacer – y la unica forma es luchar a encontrar paz interior para poder encontrar una ventanita y llamar a la FE para que brinde una luz y con-vencimiento de lograr salir de tan densa oscuridad…. FE es un don divino en todo ser humano pero nos han instruido a ignorar ese poder.

    todas esas personas que condenan a Ingrid haciendo comentarios crueles, salvajes y primitivos deberin escuchar TODOS los testimonios hechos por TODAS las victimas de las FARC para ver si ustedes tienen un gota de capacidad de poder percibir la coincidencia y lo extra~nos de esos secuestros – a ustedes no se les puede pedir compasion porque es obvio que ustedes estan plagados de traumas los cuales los expresan en sus palabras condenando, juzgando, crucificando, y calumniando a Ingrid. Ella no es la UNICA que ha demandado al gobierno. escuchen los testimonios en la JEP para que entiendan la razon por la cual TODAS LAS VICTIMAS de las FARC demandan al gobierno. La familia de Ingrid ha hecho mas a favor de la sociedad colombiana que cualquiera de las personas que escribieron comentarios brutales, primitivos y salvajes…. no importa si viven en Colombia, o en USA, o en la Luna ustedes estan muy lejos de ser seres humanos. Gracias a la nacionalidad francesa que ella tenia, esposa de politico frances, gracias a su madre que revolvio cielo y tierra para sacar a Ingrid VIVA de la selva (desafortunadamente no sucedio lo mismo con el secuestro de la hija de un expresidente secuestrada por los paras) – cuando Ingrid fue liberada, ella juro que haria hasta lo imposible para que liberaran al resto de miles de seres secuestrado por decadas (y la sociedad colombiana indifirente) y con el apoyo de otras personas (Piedad Cordoba) lograron que esa maldicion con las FARC cambiara de rumbo. De aqui en adelante la paz depende NO DEL GOBIERNO (no quiere la paz) DEPENDE DE LA SOCIEDAD COLOMBIANA escuchando, sintiendo, comprendiendo y llorando con las miles y millones de victimas en nuestro hermoso pais.

  40. I don't know. France's involvement is a little bit suspicious. Why did France so obligingly whisk her two young children away in the French Abassador's car when she felt she was in danger? And why did France grant her citizenship there now? If she truly cared about Columbia she would stay in Columbia as the danger is passed. I am sure that FARC wouldn't try to kidnapp her a second time around. It seems to me that her political campaign at the time was funded by France to somehow further France's geopolitical presence in the area. I don't think she is an honest person, or deserve all the awards she got. It's disgusting.

  41. My dad's uncle owned El Tiempo Ingrid Betancourt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Bush

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