A MORAL VICTORY
The FARC had also paved the way for the first attempt on Josué’s life. As peace talks with President Virgilio Barco of the Liberal Party unraveled, the guerrillas had begun showing their teeth again. They had grown since the ceasefire that came with the Uribe Agreement three years prior, and they didn’t mind showing it. In Josué’s area, the FARC targeted paramilitaries and their suspected supporters. Just a short time before assassins went for Josué, the rebels ambushed a small column of paramilitaries and “nearly wiped them out,” Josué recounted later. The paramilitaries, it was said at the time, had connected Josué’s political work with the attack. And who could blame them? For weeks following the break in the peace talks between the FARC and the government, the guerillas and
the UP were still officially part of the same organization. The party’s public declaration of independence a little later hadn’t convinced anyone it had really separated from the rebels. “Everyone still treated us like spokespeople for the FARC,” UP propaganda chief Álvaro Salazar told me.