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| 2/3/2009 12:00:00 AM

Where Officials See Fraud, Colombia’s Masses See a Folk Hero

Feb 03 -- Among the elite here, David Murcia Guzmán is often disparaged as the Madoff of Colombia. But to some in the lower classes in one of Latin America’s most stratified of countries, he is a folk hero.

David Murcia's government-shaking arrest recently was just another example of the extent to which the rich will go to keep the poor in their place.
 
In some ways, the rise and fall of Mr. Murcia, a child of Bogotá’s slums who clawed his way into Colombia’s elite, may be even more exceptional than Mr. Madoff’s. Nowadays, Mr. Murcia ponders the events that delivered him to a cell at La Picota, a prison situated amid the shantytowns of this city’s southern fringe.

At 28, Mr. Murcia has been charged with creating a hydra-headed enterprise based in Panama that laundered money and enticed thousands of Colombians into a pyramid scheme known by his own initials, D.M.G.

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EDICIÓN 1844

PORTADA

Francisco superstar

La esperada visita del papa a Colombia tiene tres dimensiones: una religiosa, una política y otra social. ¿Qué puede esperarse de la peregrinación del sumo pontífice?