Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez on Thursday stated definitively that former President Belisario Betancur is still alive, correcting her Twitter post of minutes before in which she said he had died.
"I very much regret having received a mistaken report that gave rise to my message of condolences. I'm happy to learn that President Belisario Betancourt is still alive," Ramirez tweeted.
A short time before, the vice president had reported that Betancur, who is 95, had died.
"RIP (Rest in Peace) President Belisario Betancur. His life, his work, his love for Colombia, his insatiable intellectual curiosity, his greatness as a public figure and in retirement, constitute an example of what one should be," she had tweeted earlier on Thursday, a post that spread like wildfire throughout the national and international press.
After she learned the true situation, she immediately erased the erroneous message from her Twitter account and posted another message saying that a "mistaken report" had been given to her "during a meeting."
The Santa Fe Hospital in Bogota, where Betancur was admitted in recent hours to be treated for a kidney ailment, did not confirm that he had died.
"All Colombians and all democrats throughout the world are happy to learn that President Betancur is alive. We need him," said Ramirez, regarding her mistaken tweet.
Sen. Roy Barreras, with the Partido de la U, called the situation one of "magic realism" - referring to the literary genre - and said that Betancur should be told "that the entire country was shaken by the premature report of his death, although made in good faith, by Vice President Marta Lucia (Ramirez)."