chapter  16
10 Pages


Even if the Unión Patriótica was dead politically, somehow its spirit lingered. Despite the obstacles-the lack of money, the dangers, the wee prestige, the small hope of self-benefit, the dim chances of helping others-people still volunteered to be leftist politicians. Even stranger, there was a group of Colombians who hung on to the idea that a leftist political coalition was possible. They created what they called the Frente Social y Político. (For many, it was just a long-winded way of saying martyrs.) These included what was left of the UP, the Communist Party, and the M-19-the rebel group turned political party. There were others who tagged themselves as “independents,” but they couldn’t hide. It was the 2002 election, fifteen years after assassins had riddled UP presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal with bullets in the mountains outside of Bogotá, but little had changed. To be a politician in Colombia was an adventure. To be a leftist politician in Colombia was a death wish.