Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

GUERRILLA POLITICS

For a bold and adventurous rebel leader, Jacobo Arenas was notoriously paranoid. Some said it was related to his mother, who never ate food she didn't prepare herself. But others simply said it was part of being a guerrilla. Since he had joined the FARC in the 1960s, Arenas had obsessed over the various plots to assassinate him he was absolutely sure were afoot. The CIA was his biggest nemesis. The U.S. spy agency, he constantly reminded his fellow commanders, was hatching plans in its Langley, Virginia, headquarters to slip poison into his food or gun him down as he rode his horse through the woods. Arenas's list of attackers would later include drug traffickers and paramilitaries who, of course, were working closely with the CIA. When perestroika began in the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev became a suspect. Arenas had reason to be afraid. In the late 1980s, drug traffickers did hire British and South African mercenaries to lead a group of paramilitaries in an attack on the FARC headquarters, the Casa Verde. The assault, however, never happened, as support for it fizzled during the training for the operation.

Given Arenas's paranoia, it seemed fitting that the commander who he picked to lead the UP carried a pendulum in his pocket. Carlos Enrique Cardona, a.k.a. Braulio Herrera, used the pendulum to snuff out plots against him and his top commanders. He swung it over his own food to check for poison and over his injured soldiers to diagnose their ailments. And when he was in trouble, he swung the pendulum in front of himself and whispered to his gods. But Braulio was a reluctant showman. One time, the government helicopter flying him and Alberto Rojas Puyo, the Communist stalwart, through the treacherous mountain pass to Casa Verde began spinning out of control. "I told him to take out the pendulum to see if we were going to make it," Rojas Puyo told me many years later. "And we both started laughing. But

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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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