Colombia: The Backlands Violence Is Almost Ended

The orders read like the work of a bored general trying to inject a little life into a standard peacetime troop maneuver: the Colombian army and air force were to invade, conquer and hold the "Independent Republic of Marquetalia," a 1,400-sq.-mi. enemy enclave deep in the Andean highlands 170 miles southwest of Bogotá. But this war is real, and so is Marquetalia. Colombians know it as the stronghold of Pedro Antonio Marín, 34, alias "Tiro Fijo" (Sure Shot), last of the country's bigtime bandit chieftains.

Communist Country. By wiping out Tiro Fijo, Colombia would just about end the savage backlands...

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