Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview
Save to active project



It was a blistering hot, sunny day in the small cattle town of Puerto Berrío when I realized that the right-wing paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño thought he would escape prosecution for terminating the FARC's political party, the Unión Patriótica. He believed he could escape because he was a popular man who had fought all the battles no one else would in Colombia. He believed it because he was powerful, commanding an army of close to ten thousand well-trained troops who regularly took on the guerrillas in their strongholds in order to wrench the country back into the hands of the government and the country's elite. Most of all, Carlos believed he would escape prosecution because he thought that punishing the FARC by killing off the UP was justified. Getting off free was his reward.

To see Carlos Castaño in Puerto Berrío that day, Scott Wilson, the Washington Post correspondent, and I went through an elaborate maze. First we flew over the central mountain range from Bogotá to Medellín. As instructed, we went straight to a chicken fingers place in the airport, where we rendezvoused with some of Carlos's assistants. One of them then led us downstairs and onto the Medellín airport tarmac, where we boarded a four-seat Cessna. Soon we were over the mountains, heading for Puerto Berrío.

It was a clear day, and the scenery below us was stunning. A patch of lakes surrounded by mountains reflected the sun. A resort town sat along the edge of one of the shorelines. Pieces of the mainland spread into the water; steep precipices and jagged rocks encircled it. There was a tall, smooth, oval-shaped boulder resembling pão de azucar, the famous rock steeped on the waterfront in Rio de Jainero. The area would have been a paradise like Rio, but there wasn't anyone left to enjoy it. Dirt roads led to abandoned vacation homes and barren docks. No one risked traveling too far from the big cities anymore. The war had swallowed Colombians' courage.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 253

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?