Life imitating art, or How I learned to love an assassin

So what happens when you’re a photojournalist in Colombia and you fall in love with a girl? Hijinks. And possibly some shenanigans. This is a pretty amazing first person acount of love under duress. Someone in Hollywood should snap up the rights to this story. Via: Kottke

The Beginning

I had been in Colombia for a few months to learn how to become a photojournalist. Not by attending some theoretical university course, or taking portraits in a cozy studio, but by pitching myself in at the deep end.

Times of peace have been rare in the country’s history. For the past 40 years or so, a Marxist-inspired rebel group known as the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) have been at war with the government, funding their growing army by kidnapping and extortion, and taxing the illegal cocaine trade. Right-wing death squads known as “self-defence forces” have sprung up as a response to the Farc’s kidnapping of wealthy landowners and drug-lords. Under the umbrella of an organisation called the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) these private militias, or paramilitaries (known locally as “paras”), are secretly supported by those high in the government and military, who back their dirty war against the Farc rebels.

Then he meets a girl…

En route, I began talking with a fellow passenger, a beautiful Colombian girl called Marylin who told me she was returning from a clothes-buying trip in one of the big cities. I explained my purpose in visiting the region, and Marylin told me she had friends in both the paramilitaries and the military, so would be able to help. She invited me to stay with her family, who had a roadside store and bar on the outskirts of town. I was attracted to Marylin, but had no idea how close we would become and how our future would unfold.

The lovers quarrel

She then hit me with a confession that would both thrill and confuse me. She explained that in the months that I had been away in Iraq her role within the AUC had changed; she had joined the urban militia and become an assassin. Her job was now to eliminate informers and traitors. So far, she told me, she had killed at least 10 people in the area. I lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, Marylin looked at me through the smoke as I exhaled, waiting to see how I would respond to what she had just told me.

For the rest of the thrilling story, you’ll have to read the whole thing. It is, as I said, very riveting.

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