While campaigning in southern Colombia on February 23, 2002, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a French and Colombian citizen, was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Betancourt had been a strong critic of the organization and had been warned of the dangers in visiting the FARC-controlled region in which she was campaigning. Betancourt, however, felt strongly about reaching out to what she viewed as one of the most oppressed regions of her country.
For the six years of her captivity, little was known about Betancourt's condition or her whereabouts. However, in July 2008, Betancourt and 14 others were finally freed in an elaborate rescue operation led by the Colombian government. Officials duped rebels by posing as members of a nongovernment organization and told FARC rebels that they were flying the hostages to meet rebel leader Alfonso Cano. Betancourt's recue was celebrated around the world, and she began a campaign to increase awareness about other political prisoners around the world.