Ingrid Betancourt Visits Canada

(No. 276 - September 25, 2009 - 3:20 p.m. EDT) The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, on behalf of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today paid tribute to Ingrid Betancourt, the former Colombian presidential candidate and hostage, for her unwavering campaign for the release of all remaining hostages held by illegal armed groups in Colombia.

"After the hardships Ms. Betancourt endured during her captivity as a hostage in Colombia, her commitment to ensuring the release of all remaining hostages in that country is impressive and inspirational," said Minister Paradis, who met Ms. Betancourt yesterday.

Ms. Betancourt, who was held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for six and a half years before being rescued by Colombian security forces, has been in Canada on a personal visit since September 23.

"Ms. Betancourt’s story represents both the progress achieved in recent years in Colombia and the remaining challenges,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada is committed to engaging with Colombia, an important partner in the hemisphere, to assist the country in its efforts to ensure peace, prosperity and stability for all Colombians."

During her stay, Ms. Betancourt was presented with the new Reporters Without Borders-Radio Canada International Prize for Women of Courage by Her Excellency the Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada and honorary president of Reporters Without Borders Canada.

"This prize is a formal recognition of Ms. Betancourt’s exceptional strength and determination," said the Honourable Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women).

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mary-Ann Dewey-Plante
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services
613-218-6961

Semhar Tekeste
Special Assistant, Communications
Office of the Minister of State (Status of Women)
819-956-4000

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874