DEATH BEAT by Maria Jimena Duzán


A Colombian Journalist's Life Inside the Cocaine Wars
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 Through her experiences as both reporter and victim of the vicious Colombian drug cartels, Duz†n reveals the symbiotic yet deadly relationship between the drug bosses and her country's political and economic history. In 1982, when she was just 24, Duz†n faked her own kidnapping to become the first reporter to interview Jaime Bateman, leader of M-19, an urban guerrilla organization that had split off from the pro-Soviet FARC (the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces). M-19 had kidnapped a wealthy drug lord's sister and found itself under attack from the notorious Pablo Escobar, who had aligned himself with the right-wing government to go after the Communists. To further illustrate the complicated alliances, Duz†n notes that M-19 provided protection for the campesinos trying to scratch out a living harvesting their own coca plants. She details numerous political assassinations, including the killing of four of the six 1990 presidential candidates. The danger for her (her house and offices had already been bombed) and other journalists was brought into sharp focus in 1985 when Guillermo Cano, her boss at El Espectador, was assassinated, probably by Escobar, who'd been forced to go underground when Cano published an incriminating photograph. Until then, Escobar had enjoyed congressional immunity. Duz†n covered M-19's 1985 seizure of the Palace of Justice, during which 95 people--and half the Supreme Court--were killed, and that year's devastating volcano eruption, which claimed 20,000 lives. The rich drug cartels won widespread support by aiding the victims and exposing the government's weak response. The violence struck close to home in February, 1990, when Duz†n's sister, Sylvia, a documentary filmmaker investigating gangs and assassins, was shot to death while attending a national Great Dialogue for Peace. With a reporter's detachment, Duz†n nevertheless evokes all the drama and horror of a country at war with itself. Not seen: epilogue updating events after Escobar's death.) (Eight pages b&w photographs not seen)

Pub Date: March 30th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017057-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994