Latin America: The Helpless Hostages

The note relayed to the West German ambassador's residence in Guatemala City had been scribbled hastily by the ambassador himself. "Do not be afraid," wrote Count Karl von Spreti, 62, to his son Alessandro, 11. "My health is good, my heart is as stout as the Bühler Höhe [a well-known hill in Bavaria's Black Forest]. I am treated with respect and courtesy. I embrace you fondly. Papi." Last week, shortly after he wrote that note, the ambassador was murdered with a bullet behind the right ear.

Von Spreti was on his way to...

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