Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sigifredo Lopez in his Labyrinth

Back to captivity: Lopez being escorted to prison.

It's a saga which Gabriel Garcia Marquez might have invented - but if he had, critics would have called it too outlandish even for the creator of flying toasters and mass insomnia.

In 2002, Cali regional deputy Sigifredo Lopez was one of twelve victims, when he and eleven other deputies were kidnapped by the FARC and carried off to a jungle camp. The guerrillas held the eleven men for five years. One day, believing that a rescue effort was underway, the guerrillas murdered the other 11 deputies. In fact, the guerrillas had unexpectedly run into another group of guerrillas in the jungle. Lopez was the sole survivor. The guerrillas explained that he had by good fortune been in a separate location when the tragic encounter took place.

Two years later, the guerrillas released Lopez, making him a free man again.

But not for long.

Happier times: Lopez being
released by the guerrillas in 2009.
Even as Lopez tried to restart his political career, evidence accumulated that he might have been more than just a victim. An ex-guerrilla had already accused Lopez of collaborating with the FARC. Later, the ex-girlfriend of a FARC leader told investigators that Lopez had, strangely, enjoyed certain privileges while in captivity. But the most powerful proof, according to news reports, came from a siezed FARC computer: a video in which a voice describes the layout of the deputies' offices and their security arrangements. Forensic analysts say the voice matches Lopez's, and that a fleeting glimpse of the hidden speaker's profile also matches Lopez's face.

The ex-deputy and kidnappee is now in prison pending further investigations into whether or not he collaborated with the mass-kidnapping and murder.

But why would Lopez have collaborated with his colleagues' kidnapping - and much less his own? He was a leftist as a youth, but seems to have grown out of that. Might the guerrillas have blackmailed Lopez? Or, perhaps they tricked him into collaborating, without telling him their real kidnapping plan. But all of the 'evidence' against Lopez might be no more than misidentifications and misunderstandings.

Yet, if any of these collaborative hypothesis are true, why didn't Lopez just stay away from the office the day of the kidnapping, as many other deputies did for other reasons? Or, why didn't the guerrillas arrange an 'escape' for him shortly after the kidnapping? After all, other guerrilla hostages have escaped.

In addition, since his release in 2009, Lopez has harshly criticized the guerrillas. In his book about his ordeal, 'The Triumph of Hope,' Lopez described the guerrillas recruiting of children - and their executing some of those children for violating guerrilla codes. That, of course, would make sense in any case: Whether they had stolen seven years or his life, or if they had used and then betrayed him.

Hopefully, the truth about Lopez's role will come out.

One thing seems certain, tho: If Lopez did collaborate with the guerrillas, he's paid a huge price for it.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

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