The Washington Post
Sunday, October 7, 2001; Page A38

Threatened Colombian Peace Adviser Flees


BOGOTA, Colombia, Oct. 6 -- A key figure in Colombia's peace efforts said today he was fleeing the country after receiving death threats from a right-wing
paramilitary group.

"I have my heart in my throat, it hurts me to leave the country," said Alberto Pinzon, an advisory committee member to a Colombian peace commission seeking a
solution to the country's 37-year-old civil war.

Pinzon, a doctor who had written a report criticizing the outlawed paramilitary fighters, said he would leave his family and request asylum in Havana. "I have received
many threats over the Internet, over the telephone. There are enemies of peace that are forcing me to leave the country for my safety," he said.

The advisory committee, which originally had four members, has lost half of its members in recent months as tensions have risen over negotiations.

The talks had been pushed to the brink of collapse when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, killed a popular former culture minister, Consuelo
Araujo, on Sept. 29. Araujo was also the inspector general's wife.

But in a move that is expected to salvage talks, the FARC agreed late Friday to stop its roadside kidnappings and begin immediate discussions of a cease-fire.

Analysts say the FARC concessions should be enough for President Andres Pastrana to continue allowing rebels to use a demilitarized enclave in the country's south,
which the military is barred from entering. The agreement on the zone expires at midnight Tuesday and Pastrana had warned he might send in the army.

                                               © 2001