Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Convoluted Case of Álvaro Gómez

Alvaro Gomez Hurtado.
Álvaro Gómez Hurtado was like a comet across Colombian journalism and politics during the 1980s and '90s.

The son of ex-president Laureano Gómez, Alvaro worked for his father's newspaper and other publications as well as serving as Bogotá city councilman, in both houses of Congress and as minister and ambassador in various nations. A leading member of the Conservative Party, he ran three times unsuccessfully for president. In 1998 he was kidnapped by the M-19 Guerrilla group, who were demanding the convening of a Constitutional Convention. The guerrillas achieved their goal, and Gómez Hurtado served in that convention.

Gómez then became an academic, helping to found two universities. But he may have signed his own death warrant by becoming a furious critic of Pres. Ernesto Samper, who was embroiled in a scandal over drug cartel financing of his presidential campaign, known as the Proceso 8000.

"The regime must be overthrown," Gómez said in at least one interview.

In Novemember, 1995, as he left a university, Gómez was gunned down.

His assassination has never been solved. Pres. Samper, guerrilla groups, paramilitaries drug cartels and others have all been suspects in the killing.

Ignacio Londoño Zabala, today an attorney with ties to criminal gang leaders, may have played a role
Ignacio Londoño
in the assassination.

And now, Londoño's assassination may guarantee that the mystery will never be solved.

Londoño, an attorney and local politician in Valle del Cauca with ties to drug cartel leaders, was gunned down the other day in Cartago, Valle del Cauca, where he was a candidate for mayor.

Londoño had given two of his bodyguards the weekend off and sent the third to do a chore in Bogotá. Londoño was in his office when someone shot thru the window, killing him.

Londoño was allegedly linked to the Proceso 8000 as well as various drug cartel leaders. Investigators wanted him to testify about Gómez's killing.

Londoño lying murdered on a Cartogo street.
The Londoño killing is itself the subject of mystery, which will likely never be resolved. Was he killed because of his campaign for mayor? Because of his possible declarations in Gómez's assassination? Because of his links to drug cartel leaders?

The Gómez-Londoño saga is yet another example of the intersection of politics and violence, which so often ends in impunity.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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