Susan Williams posts to FB: “This is my good friend Michael Fumento who visited me in New Zealand …the last time I spoke to him a couple days ago I told him not to do anything stupid….unfortunately things have taken a turn for the worst…..I have posted this as per advice from his brother … if his whereabouts in a Colombian prison is known by westerners perhaps he has a chance of getting out.”
Claire Berlinski posts: Anyone who knows Michael Fumento will be somehow unsurprised by the e-mail I received this morning from his friend Matt Kaufman. I’m reposting it at his request and looking for advice about what I might do that could genuinely be useful. Does anyone have a contact number for the Colombia desk at State? Mike asks that you *not* contact him directly unless you can help in a special way. Obviously, feel free to share widely. This is no doubt all true. (Lourdes Fernandez, sounds like a Spanish speaker might be useful. I’ll ask.)
Re: URGENT: MIKE FUMENTO IN SERIOUS DANGER
Mike is in a cell at a police station in Colombia and at risk of being sent into their brutal prison system, possibly VERY quickly — and that’s a place where you can be killed, and the fate of a gringo is especially grim. Those of you who are social-media savvy need to publicize this.
There’s no time to tell the whole story, but he recently returned for what was supposed to be a brief trip to resolve old financial business from the years he lived there. One person has had him arrested, and made numerous accusations which Mike tells me a whole crowd of witnesses could easily refute — but likely won’t. The accuser is local and powerful/feared. Mike is just the gringo.
Mike is trying to reach a local lawyer, but attorneys (like Colombians in general in his experience) can be highly unreliable. This is a country where the law very often amounts to whatever someone in a position of power says it is. He’s alone in a dismal cell at, with no access to anything he owns — not even the things he has back at a hotel. He has no family or friends there. He’s going to court Tuesday (today, the day you read this), and doesn’t know whether it’s just a preliminary hearing or an actual trial. He doesn’t know the system.
It’s not certain whether the U.S. Embassy will help in the case of an arrest: I’ll try. My ability to help is very limited: I can’t speak Spanish, and the most I can do with people in Colombia is send emails to locals using an online translation program. My ability to communicate with Mike is very sporadic. He has only occasional access to his phone/email, which could be cut off at any time. When I spoke to him, it was from the police station’s number, which I had to call. I’m not exaggerating when I say that any time I hear from him might — for all I know — be the last time. For me, or for anyone. We’re in the realm of the unknown.
Mike’s best hope of not disappearing down a hole very quickly may be for people to know about him. He asks all of you who have Facebook to make people you know aware of this.
I will keep you posted as best I can.