Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

FIGHTING HISTORY

The story of Josué Giraldo and his party, the Unión Patriótica (UP), started with the idea of peace, of settling the long-standing conflict that had ripped the country apart for decades. The new party was a crucial part of a peace process between the government and the FARC guerrillas. It was established as a means to reconcile the two sides: The UP was going to be the conduit through which the FARC-by then one of the country's four guerrilla groups-could drop its guns and pick up its placards, give speeches in the plazas, and slip a ballot into a slot. At least that was the idea.

It was the early 1980s when the notion of the UP began to take shape. Colombia had seen nearly thirty-five years of uninterrupted war, the last of which had been some of the worst. Hundreds of political dissidents and suspected rebel collaborators had been jailed and tortured by government troops. Many had died. The army had also launched attacks on rebel strongholds. Despite the government's resolve, the size of the guerrilla armies had increased fourfold. To many, like presidential candidate Belisario Betancur, it was looking increasingly like a stalemate.

During his presidential campaign in 1982, Betancur promised a "democratic opening" and to seek peace with the rebel groups. The Conservative Party leader was going against the trend in the region. In El Salvador and Guatemala civil wars were heating up, and military governments in those countries were ushering in scorched earth policies to deal with the guerrillas. The United States, under the Reagan administration, supplied these governments with massive military assistance. Colombia could have gone to the United States and argued for the same treatment to deal with its guerrilla problem. But Colombians were tired of war, and Betancur gauged this mood perfectly His overwhelming support at the polls proved this. He won the

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Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Prologue - The Martyrs 1
  • Part One 15
  • Chapter 1 - Fighting History 17
  • Chapter 2 - The Desert Fox 31
  • Chapter 3 - The Master Plan 45
  • Chapter 4 - Guerrilla Politics 57
  • Chapter 5 - Black Vladimir 65
  • Chapter 6 - Too Much Tic 77
  • Part Two 89
  • Chapter 7 - The "Disposable Ones" 91
  • Chapter 8 - A Moral Victory 105
  • Chapter 9 - The Return of Black Vladimir 117
  • Chapter 10 - The Perestroikas 127
  • Chapter 11 - The House of Castaño 141
  • Chapter 12 - The Suizo 153
  • Part Three 167
  • Chapter 13 - Farc-Landia 169
  • Chapter 14 - Justice as a Memory 181
  • Chapter 15 - The Great Escape 195
  • Chapter 16 - Shades of Jaime 209
  • Chapter 17 - Leftovers 221
  • Index 243
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