The 42-year-old Betancourt was abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in February 2002 while stumping on the campaign trial.
A candidate from the left, Betancourt -- who was also a senator at the time -- virtually fell off the political radar in Colombia after the FARC nabbed her, garnering less than 1 percent of the vote in May elections that saw the right-wing lawyer Alvaro Uribe sweep into power on promises to crack down on the rebels by strengthening the military.
The captive candidate has since become an icon of sorts abroad, particularly in Europe where some see her as leader in the fight for social equity. In France Betancourt, who is also a French citizen, is considered a "citizen of honor" in hundreds of cities. Her book, "Until Death do us Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia," has been a bestseller in France and around the world.
However, at home, she is much less celebrated. Many see her as just another politician trying to win Colombia's highest office for personal gain.