When I last was in Paris, what made me stop in front of l'Hôtel de Ville was not the magnificent building in itself, nor the happy skaters in front of it. What made me stop and what made me freeze was this reminder, counting the days that Ingrid Betancourt had been held hostage. 2154.

The counter stopped yesterday at 2321. Hers is a story of 2321 days of captivity and combat, of tremendous courage and enduring hope. Hers is a story of a mother losing more than 6 years of her children's lives. And finally, hers is a story of freedom. Her story makes an overwhelming impression.

She became a forceful symbol of every man and woman who had their freedom taken away by the FARC guerilla. The counter stopped for her and 14 other hostages yesterday, but it keeps counting the days for many others. I hope she remains a symbol for them, of hope and freedom.
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