After dinner, The Colonel told Ken all of what he knew: the government enacted a policy against the drug cartels, one of interdiction and suppression, at the behest of the United States of America (and with their assistance); the cartels retaliated by raiding the government’s strongholds to undermine the support that the people gave to the government, and part of these raids included assassinating officials such as judges; the leading faction in the government exploited this by using such posts as virtual death sentences for political rivals, which is why The Colonel got appointed as a judge upon retiring from the Colombian Army. Six assassination attempts later, The Colonel realized that the cartels will shift tactics to get to him, and the government won’t do anything about it, which is why he asked for Ken to help.
“Why would they not go abroad to abduct your older daughters?” Ken said.
“The killings are public because they are political statements by the cartels to the people that the government is not their friend.” The Colonel said, “Any alternative must fulfill the same purpose, and causing problems abroad does not do that here. So, for now, they are safe.”
“And the neighboring governments?”
“Each of the governments here in South America, behind closed doors, knows that they are in an inferior position with regard to the United States of America- the hegemon of the Americas. Even if they agree with destroying the cartels, relations with the Americans alone will impede alternatives to the American policy. The reality, however, is that all of our politics are riven with factions and rivalries that will use events to advance their goals or eliminate enemies.”
“Don’t expect much help, and none from anyone other than me or those that owe me.”
Ken sighed. “I can handle that.”
“You and I share an associate.” The Colonel said, patting his own Browning Hi Power, “You will do just fine, if all Marisol tells me is true.”
“Well,” Ken said, “it seems that the best approach is to do something that forces the cartels to take their focus away from you and…”
The Colonel passed Ken a manila envelope. “I have a few suggestions.”
Ken nodded, intrigued. “I think it will be time to take a very personal tour of Colombia.”
The Colonel laughed. “Colombia is a beautiful country, filled with natural wonders that have to be seen with one’s own eyes to be believed. Take my advice, and follow my leads, young Ken. See all we have to see, and make joyful noises wherever you go. Let this experience be one that no one ever forgets.”
Ken then took his leave, as The Colonel wanted some time with Marisol before returning to his work in the morning. He returned to the guest room prepared for him, emptied the envelope, and read its contents: cartel safehouses, contacts, caches, etc. here in Bogata.
“After I’m done, no one will ever do this again.”