News of a Kidnapping

News of a Kidnapping was written by author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is a nonfiction book, originally published in 1996, in Spanish, then published again, in 1997, after being translated to English. The setting of this book takes place in Columbia, in the 90s, with a theme focus on extradition.

During this time, Columbia suffered from several problems including, narco- terrorism, drug trafficking, separation of wealth and power, Guerilla movements, all common themes associated with Latin America third World countries. Marquez paints a picture centered around ten men and women, who were mostly journalists, that Medellin cartel leader, Pablo Escobar had ordered to be abducted by his henchman, to use as as a way to bargain with the colombian government to avoid being extradited to the United States. Those abducted, were not only journalist, but public figures linked by occupation, family, leading politicians, mass media, and friends. Marquez starts off with the abduction of Maruja Pachon de Villamizar, wife of a well known Colombian politician, Alberto Villamizar, and Maruja’s sister in law, Beatriz Villamizar. Then; the book chronicles events taken place, after the abduction, the physical, and psychological abuse the hostages endured, insight on Latin America’s corrupt system, and national problems with drug trafficking.

As previously mentioned, throughout the book, the main theme is extradition. To gain more insight, we must first understand the group of people causing the problems we are reading about, and their motives. Starting with the formation of the group this story is also centered around, an organization that called themselves The Extraditables. In the early 1980’s the organization was formed by Colombian drug lords whose motto became “We prefer a grave in Colombia to a prison in the United States.” Being extradited to the United States, meant that Escobar, his henchman and other drug traffickers could be tried for crimes in the United States and receive lengthy, harsh sentences. Cesar Gaviria, created “a political agreement to convene a Constituent Assembly, invested by the Supreme Court with unlimited power to decide any issues, of course, the hottest ones: the extradition of Colombian nationals, and amnesty” (pg.131- 132).

The core focus of the group was to intimidate Colombian government into banning extradition at a constitutional level, because of the treaty that created between Columbian and the United States. Also, to manipulate Colombian society into supporting their movement. First, their tactics were getting newspaper adverts published, and influencing political parties to speak in their favor. Eventually, their tactics would escalade into a war between the drug cartel and the state, having politicians and members of law enforcement being victims of violent acts. We read about Columbia’s familiarity with abduction, and narcoterrorism.

Those involved, the people that were kidnapped suffered a great deal, being placed in a hostage situation. The narrative, provides us with the situations each individual was placed in, trauma they endured, and the pressure their families put on the government to get them back. These individuals were taken away from their daily routines, estranged from those who loved them, held against their will by criminals in masks, and eventually underwent physical and psychological distress. Within the reading Marquez conveys these individuals sense of displacement by integrating very extensive journalistic reporting. Ultimately, the narrative he illustrates for the readers, expresses how the lives of those who were abducted drastically changed in the wake of the kidnappings, their families reaction to their loved one being abducted, and their impressions. These kidnappings would result in the deaths of two of the eight hostages, Diana, and Marina, before the release of the final two hostages in May 1991, Francisco and Maruja. Marquez includes background information involving Colombia’s drug wars over the past several decades. By providing this information readers are given the ability to understand the significance of the events that Marquez recounts. Marquez writing in this novel involves a series of complex elements into one connected narrative.

Marquez does a great job of incorporating Escobar’s, and the Extraditables motives, and the lengths they were willing to go to keep the government functioning in a way that would favor them. He also, provides us, with the the trauma his hostages endured, and the effects on not only the individuals, but their family members as well. Throughout the reading we gain much knowledge on the way the Colombian government was ran, the corruption within, and tactics involved that kept it unjust. The strength within Marquez writing of this book, is the authority and the detail he provides. The theme is easy to grasp, the information helps readers understand issues within Colombia, while also sympathizing for the individuals involved in the kidnappings. Overall, Marquez created an interesting novel with detailed information on Colombia, their government, and the infamous tactics of kingpin, Pablo Escobar.