La princesse in the castle
Countries need lofty causes to unite and rally its people around, and France is no exception. But with uncanny frequency here that cause has been taking the form of Frenchwomen entrapped in nasty far-off kingdoms.
In just the latest case, princess Florence Cassez has been locked away in a dirty Mexican castle guarded by justice-hating, peso-pinching politicos. Judges in Mexico seem convinced she must have had some inkling that her kidnapper boyfriend was stashing away humans at their rancho home. But French leaders from across the political spectrum are quite sure the opposite is true, and seem determined to spear diplomatic ties with Mexico to defend fair Florence’s honor.
In the Spring of 2010 it was Clotilde Reiss that needed saving. The young academic was rounded up in Tehran during the massive protests that followed Iran’s disputed June 2009 elections. The Islamic regime tried and convicted her as a spy. France’s decision in May 2010 to release and deport Ali Vakili Rad --an Iranian agent convicted of the 1991 killing of former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar-- would lead some to believe that an exchange was arranged to pry Clotilde from the claws of the dragon Ahmadinejad.
But no case made more of a fuss than that of Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate in Colombia who enjoys dual Colombian-French citizenship. She was a hostage of Marxist FARC guerillas for more than six years. Trapped as she was, she became a major celebrity in France and in March 2008 President Sarkozy put a Falcon 900 jet and medical team on standby on rumors of her release -false rumors as it turned out.
The crusades for Ingrid and Clotilde eventually met triumph, but efforts to rescue Florence seem to have hit a wall. Perhaps it’s time to start looking for a new maiden in distress.