The following is The Miami Herald's translation of Ingrid Betancourt's first public comments after her rescue from a FARC jungle camp.
"I am very moved. Thank God and the Virgin. I pictured this moment for a long time. I thank all who accompanied me in their hearts, those who felt compassion for the hostages and who rejected the possibility that the only solution was to wait."I also thank those all over the world who accompanied us. Thanks to the army of my homeland. Thanks to their impeccable military operation, all was perfect."This morning when I got up, I prayed the rosary at four o'clock. We had hoped that some of us might be freed. I owe much to the communications media. How much do I owe them? We could dream about liberation because we heard our people. This victory also belongs to you."I would hear my mother, my daughter, my former husband (whom I adore), and I thought: well, maybe this time is not for me. We packed and waited, and I don't know what. At that moment, they told us they were going to take us with a high-ranking chief, but they didn't know who he was. We thought: more captivity, another transfer."We saw helicopters approaching, but they were white helicopters. We arrived at a site with an armed guard who, like many other times, treated me in a brusque manner -- 'hurry up, go on.' Some characters arrived who were absolutely surrealist, and we asked ourselves: 'Who are these people? Could it be they're going to turn us into clowns in a new circus once again?' And I looked, and they were wearing Che Guevara T-shirts. Then I became dispirited because I thought they were not a medical brigade. They talked like guerrillas and dressed like them."[Betancourt said the operation began at dawn, when the captives were told they would be moved out.]"At that moment, they made us board [the copters] in handcuffs. It was very humiliating. Once we boarded, I didn't even want to speak. We were very angry. They closed the doors of the helicopter and suddenly something happened. Suddenly, I saw the comandante who so many times acted like a despot lying on the floor, blindfolded. I did not feel happiness; I felt pity."In the helicopter, the chief said: 'We are from the National Army. You are free.' We cried, jumped, couldn't believe it. The helicopter almost went down. There is no precedent of such a perfect operation. Most likely, the chiefs of the FARC are only now finding out. "The operation was absolutely impeccable. Not a single shot was fired, nobody was killed. They took us out in a big way. What they did was to take us out without a single shot. I believe that this is a sign of peace for Colombia. We can achieve peace if we trust our military forces. "We are going to continue to struggle for the liberation of those who remain back there. I am thinking about those who will never return. Happiness should not make us forget that others died. I think about all those who died at the hands of the FARC. We are going to get everybody else out." Translation by Herald Translator Renato Pérez
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