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Prologue: The Martyrs

The foundation for this book came from my masters thesis, “Political Violence in Colombia: The Story of the Unión Patriótica,” which can be found in the University of Texas at Austin library. Compared with other countries in Latin America, there are few history books on Colombia in English. Two of the ones used for this prologue were Pearce’s Colombia: Inside The Labyrinth and Bushnell’s The Making of Modern Colombia. One Spanish-language source was Gonzalo Sánchez and Mario Aguilera’s Memoria de un país en guerra (Memories of a country at war). The material concerning the economic roots of La Violencia came mostly from Berquist et al. Violence in Colombia, in particular Charles Berquist’s contribution. Accounts of the U.S. position vis-àvis Gaitán came from El saqueo de una ilusión. Hobsbawm’s quote was taken from an article he wrote in the New York Review of Books (November 20, 1986). Sánchez’s analysis of La Violencia came from an article he wrote in the September 1990 issue of Análisis Politico. The information concerning Communist Party strategy was drawn from interviews with Medófllo Medina and from his work in Violence in Colombia, and the two books he wrote on the history of the Colombian Communist Party. Accounts of the “self-defense” groups came from Communists themselves as well as from Matta’s Colombia y las FARC-EP: Origen de la lucha guerrillera; testimonio del comandante Jaime Guaraca. Lenin’s quote is taken from “Guerrilla Warfare” in Pomeroy’s Guerrilla Warfare and Marxism. The concept of “armed colonialism” is taken from Alfredo Molano, who has compiled several masterful chronicles of the slow colonization process in the southeast of the country. The material for Josué’s life came from his own account in Ceder es más terrible que la muerte (To give up is more terrible than death). The account of his death is drawn from interviews with Michael Lopez, an eyewitness to the murder, and Josué’s widow, Mariela. More about Josué, as well as an excellent account of Colombia’s war, can be found in Robin Kirk’s More Terrible than Death.