I began writing this book when I realized that I had to leave Colombia. This is not a book that will sit well with anyone actively involved in that country's four-decade-old civil war. Any one of them might want to kill me for writing this story. I wish I were exaggerating. But I know from talking to them personally that none of them wants this story to be told in its entirety. Each draws different conclusions from the same results. Each seeks to use the story to justify their ongoing wars against one another. Each hates when people contradict them. This is why I had to leave Colombia before this book was published, and this is why I may have a hard time returning while the war continues.
This book is the result of years of research and soul-searching, investigation and self-examination. I didn't write these words or come to these conclusions easily. The story is painful to tell. I wish Colombia were more black and white. I wish there were clear-cut good guys and clear-cut bad guys. But Colombia isn't a story of good guys and bad guys. Colombia is much more than that, which is why it's difficult to ignore. It's raw: humans at their best and worst.
I first went to Colombia as a human rights observer in 1995. I worked with Peace Brigades International. Peace Brigades International is made up of volunteers who accompany the politically persecuted and document the human rights situation. While I was with Peace Brigades, I began to meet the people who would form the core of this story. Human rights are a dangerous endeavor, in part because they are enveloped by politics. More than ever, human rights are playing a critical role in determining relationships between citizens and nations. In some parts of the world, working in human rights is noble. In Colombia working in human rights has come to be associated with supporting the rebels. This is not unfounded, but the broad generalizations