On October 14, Colombia's most respected newspaper, El Tiempo, reported that Marxist rebels had forced over 20,000 people to undergo HIV testing in the mountain town of Vista Hermosa. Three who tested positive were then expelled from the region. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have a history of AIDS persecution: According to Colombian gay activist Hernán Humberto Rincón Perfetti, last year, FARC members showed up at the workplace of one man with orders to kill him based on reports that he had HIV; he escaped in a gasoline container and his family is in hiding. Edgar Carrasco, an AIDS activist in neighboring Venezuela, urges international support, as human-rights abuses have become an everyday feature of Colombia's civil war. "People -- even activists -- are afraid to speak out," he says. "The government is involved in violence, too."
December 1, 2001 • By Jaime Manrique