Her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, was at one time in her life Miss Colombia, and later served in the Congress. Her main backing was the southern neighborhoods of Bogotá, the poor slums. Ingrid's father, Gabriel Betancourt, was a diplomat, and served in the Paris embassy, so Ingrid grew up there. Their house was frequently visited by leading personalities and intellectuals of Colombia. She later attended the prestigious Institut d'études politiques de Paris (known as "Sciences-Po"), one of the most elite places of higher learning in France. After graduating she married a fellow student and they had two children, Melanie and Lorenzo.
Her husband was in the French diplomatic service, and they lived in various places, including New Zealand. Ingrid decided to return to Colombia (date?) and do something to help the country as a consequence of the murder of a candidate to the presidency fighting against drug trafficking. From 1990 onwards she worked in a position in the Finance Ministry, and later resigned to go into politics. Her first campaign's best ploy was the distribution of condoms ("preservativos"), with the motto that she would be like a condom against corruption. The south of Bogota supported her, thanks partially to the name recognition from her mother, who helped her campaign.
She was elected to the Senate in 1994. The total number of votes she received was the largest number of any candidate in that year's election for Senate. During her term, she fought against the Samper administration, which was accused of corruption (Galil case) and accepting drug money for the electoral campaign.
Sometime during this period, she divorced her French husband, and later remarried, to a Colombian man. Death threats from an unknown quarter forced her to flee with her family to New Zealand, thanks to the help of her ex-husband, during her Senatorial term.
She ran for President in the election which was won by Andrés Pastrana Arango. As part of her strategy she founded a political party, Oxigeno Verde (Green Oxygen Party). Pastrana persuaded her to drop out and endorse him, and she campaigned on his behalf. She claims he later reneged on the promises he made to her when she agreed to drop out.
As part of her campaign in 2002 (the election won by Alvaro Uribe Velez], she went to the demilitarized zone at San Vicente del Caguan to meet with the FARC. This is not unusual - many public figures took the opportunity afforded by the DMZ, created by Pastrana to satisfy a FARC precondition for negotiations, to meet with the FARC. She was unlucky enough to be in the DMZ at the time that the President unilaterally canceled the peace talks, revoked the DMZ, and sent the army in to take it back. The FARC picked her up that day and have held her ever since.
The FARC demand a prisoner exchange; the government refuses to negotiate. (Cf. the case of the governor of Antioquia department, Guillermo Gaviria Correo, kidnapped by the FARC during a peace march in 2003, who was killed by the FARC when the government launched an Army rescue mission). Ingrid remains in their custody.
After the 1998 election, Ingrid wrote a book, a memoir. It could not be published in Colombia, perhaps because of the polemics against former president Samper and others, so it came out first in France as La rage au coeur (Rage in the Heart). It has since appeared in Spanish, as La rabia en el corazon.
Information above taken from Betancourt's book, La rabia en el corazon.