RealNews

Commander of Lost Causes: Colombian Paramilitary Takes Stand Against Drug Trade

The world of Rodrigo 00 is shrinking. In the brilliant green valley below, explosions thud in the afternoon heat and then fade away. Combat, involving his men. A small plane makes slow loops over his hilltop camp. Intelligence gathering, he says, following the white speck with his eyes. Rodrigo 00, his nom de guerre, is the commander of lost causes. With smiling eyes and requisite gallows humor, he is taking a quixotic stand against drug trafficking and has condemned the government’s nascent efforts to make peace with a brutal paramilitary force that he once helped lead. He has lived most of his 38 years in war zones. The zone he now lives in is being taken over by his former comrades in arms. This month alone he has lost 100 men in combat and desertions, all to former friends. Rodrigo leads an armed faction that has broken with Colombia’s national paramilitary federation. He now condemns it as a drug trafficking organization with all the bitterness of a disgruntled former executive. In doing so, a man who acknowledges using harsh anti-insurgency tactics in his region has signed his own death warrant. But he continues trying to build a small-scale utopia here among the rich cattle ranches and deep river valleys of eastern Antioquia, a region that has endured war for 39 years. Full Story

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