Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

THE DESERT FOX

The most dangerous enemy the Unión Patriótica ever had never killed a single member of the party. He never raised a gun against the UP and rarely mentioned the party in his speeches. In fact, he was retired by the time the UP formed in 1984. His weapon was a single idea that he espoused over and over again: Communism must be destroyed. He chastised the Marxist guerrillas for decades in print, on the podium, and at the pulpit. In dozens of articles and books, he dissected the Communist Party's duplicitous use of la combinación de todas las formas de lucha, the multipronged strategy of combining legal and illegal fights to topple the government. He was accused of hatching numerous plans to eliminate all Communists. His enemies even said he ate children for breakfast.

Yet General Fernando Landazábal was more than just an ardent anti-communist. He was the military's campaigner and its public defender. For years, politicians, academics, and military analysts badmouthed the armed forces, blaming them for not winning the war. Landazábal was the first to counter these critics with whatever tools he had. It wasn't an easy job. The general was a solid military tactician but had a mediocre fighting force, limited resources, and tempered political support. He was like an explorer without a good map.

The situation made Landazábal both overconfident and insolent, frustrated and conniving. The general's hero was Erwin Rommel, the feared Desert Fox who'd led the Nazis campaign in North Africa in World War II. Like Rommel, Landazábal studied his enemy; then, he attacked. But every time he felt he had the enemy cornered, the government would tell him to pull his troops back. He didn't always follow orders though, and his trangressions would later cost him his job. To Landazábal, the important thing was never the job. It was saying things as he saw them, even if others didn't agree.

-31-

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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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