In a scene that could have come from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Colombia's pro-legalization leftist guerrillas, the FARC, kidnapped the pro-legalization governor of Antioquia province, Guillermo Gaviria, on Monday. Guerrillas of the FARC grabbed Gaviria, a Roman Catholic priest, and a former defense minister from a peace march in a rural area about 175 miles north of Bogota.
Gaviria and the others join at least five legislators and one minor presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, as prisoners of the FARC. The FARC has been widely condemned for kidnappings, either for ransom to support its war effort, or, as in the case of the political figures, as bargaining chips in future negotiations with the government.
President Andres Pastrana told Reuters on Tuesday that Gaviria should not have gone on the march, saying he had been warned by the military that he could be kidnapped if he joined the protest. According to the BBC, Gaviria rejected an offer of a police escort. Before the march, Gaviria told reporters the march was against violence and not against the FARC.
Last August, Gaviria joined other Colombian governors in approving a resolution calling on the government to organize an international great debate on drug prohibition. "We cannot keep our heads between our legs and continue with the same strategies of 30 years ago," said Gaviria at the time. "Colombia must lead the discussion of the issue on the international stage to commit all the countries of the world without hypocrisy or double standards," El Espectador (Bogota) reported. "There are no magic solutions, and legalization is not necessarily the solution, but I believe in controlled legalization," he said (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/201.html#groundswell).
Gaviria's kidnapping is only the latest manifestation of a wave of political violence that has swept Colombia since President Pastrana ended the peace process in February. And in Washington, Congress is preparing to examine and vote on the Bush administration's Colombia package, which would expand US military support from fighting drugs to fighting the FARC.