Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Ingrid Betancourt

She was held for six years by her captives, the rebels who call themselves the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The 47-year-old Colombian-French citizen had been campaigning for president of Colombia when FARC soldiers took her in 2002. Her imprisonment eventually became a cause célèbre in Europe, and after a Colombian government operation freed her and 14 other hostages in July, Paris rejoiced. Later in the year, Betancourt toured South America to call attention to the plight of the 700-plus hostages that FARC still holds. It remains to be seen whether she can convert her own celebrity into freedom for others held victim to Colombia's dysfunctional politics.

John Cloud