Chambon was expecting me. He was a former deportee
and a forceful, extroverted diplomat who embraced me in the presence of the
I gave Chambon a set of the documents I had had photocopied
at the Intelligence Bureau, and immediately he agreed that Altmann and Barbie
were the same person. Then the telephone rang. The consul at Puno was calling
to say: "Barbie crossed the frontier at noon, accompanied by two Peruvian
policemen who turned him over to the Bolivian police."
Chambon had just made of General Pedro Richter, the Peruvian Minister of the
Interior, to stop Barbie as a precautionary measure until an official demand
for his extradition reached Peru, consequently would be fruitless. I went back
to the AFP, where I worked until midnight with press and television people. All
that effort was very worthwhile because Peruvian newspapers are read in
Bolivia. I observed that Peruvian reporters are more prone than French or
German ones to report the proofs in a file. Their stories gave in detail all
the arguments for the identity of Altmann and Barbie.
I decided to take
a plane the following morning, and follow Barbie to La Paz. The weekend would
not be lost because Bolivian papers have Sunday editions. To save money, I
spent the night with a young Peruvian secretary from the AFP.
Saturday morning I had to pay an additional $120 for my plane ticket. The only
exchange office that was open would not accept my French francs, so I had to
trot out all my eloquence for the clerk to take it upon himself to give me what
I wanted. I bought a ticket, and then went back to the AFP office for my
luggage. Herbert John took me to Jorge Chavez airport. Farewell, Lima!
A two-hour flight over the mountains on the Braniff plane brought me to
the La Paz airport, over thirteen thousand feet above sea level. About twenty
photographers, television cameramen, and reporters were on the ramp. It was one
P.M. They hurried toward the waiting room and into a small office they had
appropriated for the occasion but which was really an infirmary. For an hour I
held an improvised press conference while a doctor treated a young woman who
had been on my plane. Her nose was bleeding because of the altitude, and they
put an oxygen mask over her face.