People: Thriller-writer is forced to avoid an excess of accuracy

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The Independent Online
TOO much accuracy can be a dangerous thing. So said novelist Frederick Forsyth, in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais to publicise the Spanish edition of his last novel, The Fist of God. After saying he consulted 'the best bomb deactivator in Western Europe' to give accuracy to past books, the novelist was quick to add: 'In The Odessa File, I explain how to construct a bomb, but I add an error so that it wouldn't work. I don't want anyone going around blowing up things because of me. I've done the same with certain tactics used by army special forces. On some occasions, they've asked me not to describe them so that the IRA, Iraq or, previously, Russia didn't copy them.'

The novelist also noted that the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's censors forced a change in his novel The Dogs of War.

In the original, arms for mercenaries left from Castellon in eastern Spain and were bought from the Spanish government. In the Spanish version, the arms had to leave from Salonika, bought from the black market in Greece.

REMEMBER Luis Garcia Meza? Just over a decade ago he was the president of the world's first drug republic. As military dictator of Bolivia, General Garcia Meza ran the country like a private racket, in league with his gangster interior minister, Luis Arce Gomez. He didn't last long, and after his overthrow spent years on the run in Europe and South America. Last year the Bolivian supreme court sentenced him to 30 years' imprisonment in absentia for murder, conspiracy, grand larceny and sundry other crimes. Earlier this month the 64-year-old general was finally run to ground in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when one of the thousands of Bolivian illegal immigrants who slave away in the city's textile sweatshops spotted him out jogging with his bodyguards.

He is now cooling his heels in a military police barracks in Brasilia, awaiting extradition to Bolivia. Arce Gomez is serving life, too, in Florida.

THE stigma of the narcotics trade is also causing problems for the family of another notorious drugs figure, Pablo Escobar.

The Escobars' neighbours in an exclusive suburb of the Colombian capital, Bogota, have made it clear they are not welcome and have started moves in the civil courts to have them evicted.

Escobar's wife, Maria Victoria Henao, teenage son Juan Pablo and nine-year-old daughter Manuela had until recently been living under government protection in a hotel in central Bogota, since the drug lord died last December in a shoot-out with army and police.

AND don't mention drugs to the United States Vice-President, Al Gore. Arriving in Bolivia on Sunday at the start of a two-day tour of South America, he was greeted with a garland made of coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine. The American ambassador, Charles Bowers, quickly removed it.

Bolivia is the world's second-largest grower of coca leaf, but with American aid it has been paying farmers to switch to other crops.

(Photograph omitted)