Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014
|Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, better known as “Popeye,” in 2013. / CARLOS ORTEGA (AFP)|
Colombians wary as former Escobar hitman gets ready to walk free from prison
“Popeye” has served 23 years after killing hundreds under reign of Medellín cartel chief
Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, the sole survivor of a group of hitmen who fought the Colombian state alongside drug lord Pablo Escobar, is about to walk free after 23 years in prison.
Popeye, as he is better known in the underworld, was 29 when he was sent to jail. Now 52, he is spending his last hours at Cómbita penitentiary, two hours away from Bogotá, where he has served the last 12 years of his conviction. The gang member benefited from term reductions through work and study schemes, and is reported to have paid $4,500 for access to parole.
His release, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon local time, comes amid heavy security measures. Popeye has confessed to scores of murders during Escobar’s reign of violence. While behind bars, he cooperated with authorities to help clear up some of the most painful events of the 1980s and 1990s.
Colombians are not indifferent to the release of a man who once headed the group of hired killers at the service of the world’s most powerful drug kingpin. Popeye has coldly admitted that he ordered 3,000 people killed when his boss, the head of the Medellín cartel, was fighting the government to avoid extradition.
That particular war cost the lives of hundreds of police officers, journalists, judges, lawyers and politicians. Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán.
Top hitman for drug lord Pablo Escobar released after 23 years in prison
“Popeye,” who killed over 300 for the Medellín cartel, is freed after serving three-fifths of his sentence
By Elizabeth Reyes L.
Translation: Dyane Jean François
Bogotá, 27 de agosto de 2014
Jhon Jairo “Popeye” Velásquez Vásquez, Pablo Escobar’s chief assassin, has been released from prison after serving 23 years. Four days prior to his release, a Colombian judge expedited the proceedings for his probation status. At 9pm on Tuesday night, the 52-year-old convict stepped out into the streets in the company of Public Defender officials, shielded by a motorcade of armor-plated vehicles. Popeye had sent a handwritten request to officials that morning to ask for protection.
The former convict has admitted to killing more than 300 people and ordering the death of over 3,000 others during a period of heavy cartel violence from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Yet the former assassin – who entered the criminal underworld at the height of the cartel’s reign, when he was just 18 – is afraid of freedom. He knows there is a price on his head and that he has made a lot of enemies given the crimes he committed, and the fact that he was a key witness in several trials – including the one related to liberal presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento’s murder in 1989. Alberto Santofimio Botero, a fellow politician, was convicted for his part in the murder.
Popeye’s release was scheduled for Monday, but was delayed until Tuesday night so that officials could make sure he did not have any pending charges. Meanwhile, victims were trying to understand how a drug trafficker who terrorized the nation two decades ago could be leaving prison after serving just three-fifths of his sentence.
The operation for Popeye’s release became the mystery of the day. As time passed, photojournalists crowded in front of the gates of the maximum security prison with their cameras ready to capture his departure. The facility is in Cómbita, two hours outside of Bogotá.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Reading Pierre Klossowski
by John Taylor
Let’s take Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) at his word, and read him with his favorite word. He claimed to “fabricate simulacra.” What exactly did the French writer mean? The word “simulacrum” is restricted by English usage to “a representation of something (image, effigy),” to “something having the form but not the substance of a material object (imitation, sham),” and to “a superficial likeness (appearance, semblance).” Contemporary French understands the term similarly, while maintaining traces of more concrete Latin meanings: “statue (of a pagan god),” even “phantom.” Interestingly, French adds “a simulated act” to these semantic possibilities, as in Raymond Queneau’s amusing description in Zazie in the Metro: “He took his head in his hands and performed the futile simulacrum (fit le futile simulacre) of tearing it off.” For Roman writers, a simulacrum could also be “a material representation of ideas” (and not just that of a deity), as well as “a moral portrait.”
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
and Hans Bellmerby David Markus
WHITECHAPEL GALLERY, LONDON | SEPTEMBER 20 - NOVEMBER 19, 2006
Pierre Klossowski and Hans Bellmer are two twentieth century figures whose controversial artistic production has limited their acceptance by the general public especially when compared with the international reputations of their immediate contemporaries. Paradoxically, Klossowski (1905-2001) was the consummate “insider.” His brother was the painter Balthus, his early mentors included Rilke and Andre Gide, and his philosophical writings and erotic fiction would eventually influence such intellectual supermen as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Maurice Blanchot, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. However, Klossowski’s unusual sexual predilections and radical individualism have more or less confined him to the realm of esoterica. Bellmer (1902-1975), for his part, operated on the margins of major movements like the New Objectivity and Surrealism. His work was not exhibited in the United States until 1975, and as late as the mid-nineties, prior to the publication of Peter Webb’s definitive exposé, he had yet to receive major notice outside of France and Germany. In the past ten years there has been a surge of interest in both of these artists. Their double billing at Whitechapel Art Gallery this past November—the first major retrospective for either one—presented an incomparable feast for the Sadean imagination.