Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

THE RETURN OF BLACK VLADIMIR

The paramilitaries' effectiveness against the Communist Party could be measured by a statue. It was a bronze bust of paramilitary ideologue Pablo Guarín that stood ten feet high in a plaza in Puerto Boyacá. The bust was made after Guarín was shot under mysterious circumstances in 1987. The FARC said it killed Guarín, but some believe that Mafia boss José Gonzalo "El Mejicano" Rodríguez Gacha did it because Guarín opposed his drug business. For people in Puerto Boyacá, it didn't matter. Under Guarín's watchful eye and his omnipresent politico-military organization, ACDEGAM, the paramilitaries had "cleaned" the area of the Communists. The FARC's new political party, the Unión Patriótica, was never even an option. "If at the end of the road you find my body don't pick me up," it reads beneath the bust. "Let the vultures from the FARC devour me. Pick up my ideas, my flags, and continue ahead." Guarín said these words, and the people responded. At the entrance to the town, a sign read, "Welcome to Puerto Boyacá…the anti-subversive capital of Colombia."

But as effective as the paramilitaries were in some places, in others they continued to have trouble with the FARC and the UP. Selective assassination and even massacres didn't always work. The guerrillas held on, and the party would surge. These places warranted a different strategy than the methodical approach followed in Puerto Boyacá, something that would make a lasting impact. Almost like an atomic bomb, this strategy would be applied to one place, but it would have widespread implications. It would be a stamp that would kill the new party's will to continue and serve as a lesson for future would-be UP strongholds. It wouldn't simply be a massacre, it would be a holocaust.

The closest, most qualified pilot the paramilitaries had to drop an A-bomb was a hulking ex-FARC soldier named Alonso de Jesús Baquero, bet-

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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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