"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tinfoil Sombrero? 

I have no idea what, if anything, is behind this story - I just find it odd that I saw it mentioned on the CNN crawl on Sunday night, but could not find anything about it anywhere on the Web until this one, lonely article appeared today:
A U.S. Embassy official was found dead Sunday in an apartment in northeastern Colombia with a gunshot wound to his head, authorities said. Jerry Benavides, the U.S. federal Bureau of Prisons’ representative in Colombia, was found in the northeastern city of Bucaramanga, 300 kilometers (185 miles) northeast of Bogotá, said a U.S. Embassy spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with embassy policy. The spokesman could not immediately provide further details but said that the embassy was ‘‘working with Colombian authorities to determine what happened.”

Witnesses at the scene of the shooting told investigators that Benavides had committed suicide shortly before dawn, Santander state police chief Gen. Jaime Otero told Caracol television. ‘‘Everything indicates that he killed himself with his own pistol,” Otero told reporters. He said his body had been taken for an autopsy. Benavides traveled to Bucaramanga on Friday as part of a U.S. Embassy program to advise authorities on the running of Colombia’s prison system, Otero said. The United States has provided billions of dollars in mostly military aid since 2000 to battle drug trafficking and a 40-year-old leftist insurgency in this Andean nation. More than 3,000 people are killed every year in the conflict, which pits two Marxist-style rebel groups against a handful of far-right paramilitary factions and government forces.

Adding to the weirdness, Google shows a link to a related story at UPI, but it's a dead end now.

 

Comments:

 

I can provide some information. . .
This upstanding and dedicated official for the Bureau of Prisons in the U.S. serving in Colombia was found dead, supposedly by a self-inflicted 9mm shot to the head. The services were held this weekend (Oct 8) and NO ONE believes the suicide to be true. There is so much corruption and danger in Colombia that Jerry's death is believed by all to be a homicide made to look like a suicide. Of course, investigations are continuing, but we'll probably never know the real truth. I hope someone in Colombia has the heart and guts to provide an official with some truth to this story.
 
Saw Jerry at a high school reunion a couple of years ago. Said he was back in the states because of a contract on his life but would return to Columbia after things died down a bit. He mentioned working with DEA and the hazards that came with it. Just have to wonder why the reports from down there say "at first ruled a suicide by officials but now maybe an accidental shooting or something else!" We will probably never see the truth in print but everyone that knew him knows the truth. This was not a suicide.
 
I would like to comment on the two comments about my brother Jerry. First, It should be quite evident that we do not beleive he took his own life, and never shall. He loved his job, even knowing the consequences. He was proud of what he did, yet his characteristics showed him to be a very humble person, father, son and brother. He progressed through his career with a sence of urgency. An urgency to want to retire and be with his two sons, somewhere in Texas. This is who my brother was and what he was about. Secondly, to the person who quoted him on saying that "He was home for a School reunion and to stay far enough away from Colombia, due to a contract on his life" This would be a very academic statement made by my brother, by this I mean that, all personell in his position would recieve such verbal harrassment to discourage them and deter them from accomplishing their goal. Do you not believe so? I commend you both for your comments and I respect your wishes to be anonymous. But, if you feel you have more to say or ask, I am in a non-obligated position to here you out. Thank You. jab
 
I had the rare pleasure of being one of the few people that had an opportunity to spend some time with Jerry before he went back to Columbia. He was "home" for a few days and made it a point to visit some old friends. Although Jerry grew up in my neighborhood, I am not in his age group but now feel fortunate that I befriended some of the people that he visited. We talked for hours about his job and his assignment. When I told him that I envied him, his eyes grew wider as he continued to share his experiences. There is no doubt in my mind that Jerry had a genuine passion for his work and clearly enjoyed his assignment. At no time did he ever exhibit any behavior that would lead me to believe that he would take his own life shortly after his visit. I simply cannot and will not accept these preliminary findings. I pray for his family and friends that a search for the truth continue. That this be investigated with the same passion that Jerry had for his work and that the Bureau of Prisons not accept the cause of death for the sake of closure.
 
The circumstances of Jerry Benavides' death are questionable to say the least. That the Colombian government immediately defaulted to an explanation of suicide is highly suspect. Further, this highly regarded diplomat was part of the US gov't operation known as "Plan Colombia." Yet, we hear nothing about the investigation in to his death. His mission in this country and the hours leading to his death read like a Hollywood script. Someone should be interested - someone should question this - someone should give his family and friends a measure of closure. Jerry was a fine human being and an outstanding member of the federal law enforcement community. He should be remembered and honored better than the newspaper articles distributed by a corrupt South American government. His work in Colombia was as much a service to this nation as our soldiers fighting in the Middle East. To anyone who has the authority or resources to make inquires, I implore you to do so.
 
I have worked with Jerry for over 10 years. I talked with him approximately once every two weeks. Jerry was looking forward to coming back to the states for good in 3 - 4 months, having his younger son come live with him, and promoting to the next level with regards to his career. Therefore, I'm 100% sure that Jerry did not take his own life. Additionally, my comments are not anonymous, my name is Patrick Love with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
 
Yo conoci a Jerry aqui en Colombia. Soy colombiana y una amiga mia conocia a quien le dejo ese cargo aqui en el Plan Colombia. Dejamos de hablar unos meses antes de su muerte. un dia, vi en las noticias lo que sucedio y lo primero que pense fue "El nunca haria algo así"

No lo conocí mucho pero el poco tiempo que compartimos, fuimos de paseo, visitamos entre otros, las minas de Sal de Zipaquira y el queria muchas fotos para envarlas a su familia. Solo tengo buenos recuerdos y se que era alguien muy preocupado por la vida y por su salud. El jamas haria algo contra el mismo. A mi tambien me extraño que la notica de el desapareciera, pues estuvo menos de 2 meses en un periodico colombiano y luego el link se perdio, como si se pudiera borrar la vida de alguien quitando una pagina de internet. Yo tambien espero que algun dia se sepa la verdad. DPA
 
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