Running out the clock on the Soacha case Francisco Santos and the paramilitaries
Oct 162009

(I’m spending Friday at a conference at Syracuse University. Meanwhile, we’re pleased to help get the word out about this important hearing Tuesday afternoon with Margaret Sekaggya, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Read the statement from her September visit to Colombia, when she found that “patterns of harassment and persecution against human rights defenders, and often their families, continue to exist in Colombia.”)

Commission Hearing Announcement
Human Rights Defenders in the Crosshairs:
The Ongoing Crisis in Colombia
with
Margaret Sekaggya,
UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Tuesday, October 20
2 - 3:30 p.m.
Room: TBD

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 20, (room: tbd). The hearing is open to the media and the public.
The ongoing 44-year-old armed conflict in Colombia has created one of the worlds most dangerous environments for human rights defenders, social leaders, labor activists, and journalists, despite some protection efforts by the Colombian government. During last year’s Universal Periodic Human Rights Review of Colombia at the United Nations, the subsequent Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Colombia (A/HRC/10/82; Jan. 9, 2009) reflected the global concern regarding extra-judicial killings and disappearances of individuals.
Recognizing the dangers that human rights defenders face from paramilitary, guerilla fighters and drug lords, the working group recommended that the Colombian government fully implement Presidential Directive 7 of 1999, and give stronger and unambiguous public recognition and support to human rights defenders.  The recommendations also included sanctioning those who make unsubstantiated allegations against human rights defenders and strengthening the protection program for NGO representatives. The report further recommended that the Colombian government fully investigate and punish crimes against human rights defenders to end the climate of impunity and called for the visits of all relevant human rights rapporteurs to Colombia.
Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and former head of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission, visited Colombia last month from September 7-18 and met with the Uribe government, civil society, judicial institutions, diplomatic delegations, and authorities in Bogota, Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali and Arauca. Ms. Sekaggya will be joined by other human rights experts to present and discuss the findings of her trip.
Other witnesses include:·
  • Principe Gabriel Gonzalez Arango, Colombian Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee·
  • Reynaldo Villalba Vargas, President, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective·
  • Andrew Hudson, Manager, Human Rights Defenders Program, Human Rights First
  • Kelly Nicholls, Executive Director, U.S. Office on Colombia.

If you have any questions regarding this hearing, please contact Hans Hogrefe (Rep. McGovern) or Elizabeth Hoffman (Rep. Wolf) at (202) 225-3599.

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Frank R. Wolf, M.C.
Co-Chair, TLHRC

6 Responses to “Human Rights Commission hearing Tuesday”

  1. Chris Says:

    Doctor Fidel Cano

    Director del Diario El Espectador

    Bogotá

    Señor Director,

    Tengo en mis manos el documento citado erróneamente por un artículo de El Espectador (del 7 de octubre de 2009), firmado por Giovanni González Arango, en el que se afirma que el Departamento de Estado de los EEUU responsabiliza a mi esposo el Coronel LUIS ALFONSO PLAZAS VEGA y a los militares colombianos de la muerte de varias personas fuera de combate y entre ellos los empleados de la cafetería del Palacio de Justicia, durante los trágicos hechos del 6 y 7 de noviembre de 1985.

    La información de El Espectador es completamente falsa y difamatoria. Por eso le pido a usted, señor Director, publicar este desmentido al que tengo pleno derecho, como esposa del afectado, hospitalizado actualmente y sin poderse defender por si solo. El honor de mi marido y el de mi familia ha sido gravemente perjudicado por ese artículo donde su nombre aparece citado expresamente.

    Es falso decir que se trata de un “documento del Departamento de Estado”. Se trata, en realidad, de un despacho interno de 1999 mediante el cual el Embajador norteamericano en Colombia en ese entonces, Curtis W. Kamman, le resume al Departamento de Estado, el 14 de diciembre de 1999, las afirmaciones de unas ONG de Derechos Humanos colombianas.

    Estas ONG evocan el resultado de una reunión sostenida, en enero de 1999, con miembros del ministerio colombiano de Defensa. Tales reuniones fueron patrocinadas por el ministerio de Defensa colombiano. El “informe” aborda 12 o 13 puntos diferentes. El punto que tiene que ver con la tragedia del Palacio de Justicia es sólo uno de ellos. En realidad, son únicamente ocho cortas líneas del despacho. De éstas, el autor del artículo, posiblemente guiado por el colectivo de abogados Alvear Restrepo, extrapola e inventa frases y conclusiones que el documento no contiene.

    Con ese despacho, el colectivo de abogados Alvear Restrepo manipuló a los medios de información colombianos aprovechando, quizás, el desconocimiento del idioma inglés del o de los periodistas que redactaron y publicaron la falsa noticia. El Espectador no publicó siquiera una traducción al castellano del despacho del citado embajador.

    Varios de los comentarios del embajador aparecen borrados en la copia desclasificada. Probablemente esas líneas fueron borradas por el Departamento de Estado antes de desclasificar ese despacho. La desclasificación fue hecha, según sello oficial, el 19 de noviembre de 2007.

    En uno de los puntos de ese despacho, las ONG pretenden que en uno de los diálogos había dos militares colombianos, uno activo (el general Hernández López, jefe del Estado Mayor Conjunto) y otro retirado. Para identificar al retirado las ONG aseguran que se trata del “coronel Alfonso Plazas Vargas” (se equivocan en el segundo apellido) quien comandó, según ellas, en noviembre de 1985, “el asalto del Ejército al edificio de la Corte Suprema que había sido tomado por el M- 19” . Ese asalto, dicen, “resultó en la muerte de más de 70 personas, incluyendo once magistrados de las Cortes. Los soldados mataron a un número de miembros del M-19, y a sospechosos de colaborarles, fuera de combate, incluyendo los empleados de la cafetería del Palacio”.

    Esas frases de las ONG son totalmente erróneas y difamatorias, como es erróneo decir que fueron frases del embajador, o del Departamento de Estado. Quien lanza la calumnia contra el Coronel Alfonso Plazas y contra las fuerzas militares colombianas son las ONG. Tal difamación no viene de la Embajada norteamericana. Esta se limita a transcribir lacónicamente lo que esas ONG dijeron. Tampoco se trata de afirmaciones o de conclusiones del Departamento de Estado. Ni de informaciones obtenidas por un “agente secreto”. Tales afirmaciones fueron lanzadas en una reunión pública propiciada por el ministerio de Defensa de Colombia. El informe en su docena de puntos relaciona diferentes reuniones de ONG durante esos días con diferentes miembros del Ministerio de Defensa Colombiano.

    El Departamento de Estado recibió ese resumen y lo archivó, sin darle importancia alguna. Años después, entre muchos otros documentos desclasificados originarios de otras embajadas norteamericanas, lo desarchivó. El colectivo Alvear Restrepo trata de utilizar ahora ese documento, y la falsa noticia redactada con ese respaldo, en momentos en que sus acusaciones contra mí marido se derrumban en el medio judicial.

    ¿Si el despacho fue desclasificado en noviembre de 2007 por qué lo trata de utilizar ahora, dos años después? Porque la bancarrota de las tesis del colectivo de abogados en contra de Alfonso Plazas es evidente y el colectivo debe intentar algo para salir de ese pantano.

    La reunión evocada por el despacho de la embajada sí se llevó a cabo. El Coronel Plazas asistió como asesor del comandante general de las FFMM, cargo en el cual se desempeñaba en ese momento. Esa reunión se celebró en el Hotel Bogotá Plaza. Asistieron a ella entre 12 y 14 ONGs colombianas. El jefe de una de éstas era Otty Patiño, ex miembro del grupo terrorista M-19. Otras estaban representadas por ex guerrilleros del ELN, del M-19, el EPL etc. Había uno o dos extranjeros.

    Documentos de este tipo son producidos por las Embajadas todos los días. Son enviados a sus respectivas cancillerías. Ese tipo de texto es conocido bajo la denominación de “informe crudo”, pues recoge lo que se dice en los países donde se hallan las sedes diplomáticas. Esos informes no constituyen posiciones oficiales de los Embajadores, ni del Departamento de Estado.

    Es falso decir que “EE.UU. determinó responsabilidad de Plazas Vega en retoma del Palacio”. En el despacho desclasificado no hay ningún juicio de valor del gobierno de Estados Unidos de América, ni del embajador citado, ni de los supuestos “investigadores” o “agentes de inteligencia” (totalmente inexistentes en el despacho de la embajada). Es falso decir que “una investigación estableció que el ex uniformado sí está comprometido en desapariciones y asesinatos de civiles.” Es falso decir que “una operación efectuada por agentes de inteligencia al servicio de la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Colombia fue consignada en un informe al Departamento de Estado de ese país”. Es falso decir que el Coronel Alfonso Plazas es “el autor intelectual de las desapariciones y los asesinatos de quienes integraban la cafetería del Palacio de Justicia”. Es falso decir que el Departamento de Estado “señala que el coronel Plazas sí estuvo al mando de la operación y estuvo al tanto del manejo y conducción de las personas que iban siendo rescatadas del Palacio en llamas”.

    No dudo que usted, señor Director, una vez coteje el despacho de la embajada (le adjunto una copia) con el artículo de El Espectador , admitirá que se trata de una falsa noticia y que varias de sus afirmaciones son difamatorias y violatorias del Derecho de prensa. Sin perjuicio de entablar ulteriormente la acción penal respectiva le ruego publicar este derecho de respuesta mío y darle la misma visibilidad que tuvo la noticia incriminada.

    Cordialmente,

    Thania Vega de Plazas

  2. Camilo Wilson Says:

    The letter from Sra. de Plazas to the Director of El Espectador is an effort on the part of a wife to defend her ill husband. As such, it deserves respect. It is not easy for any family to endure what hers is going through.

    In her letter, however, Sra. de Plazas denigrates NGOs in an effort to support her husband, and apparently also Colombia’s military. And she goes out of her way to absolve the United States—which maintains close ties to that military—of any responsibility. These efforts, to my mind, weaken her letter.

  3. Camilla Says:

    Not exactly a balanced slate of panelists. But then again, this is being done by McGovern, whose own consultant, one Jim Jones, affectionately sent email to the FARC leaders, assuring them that they’d screw Colombia’s democratically elected leader and awww, calling him ‘comrade.’

    Here’s one question that WON’T be asked in this Star Chamber farce hearing: What happens when the purported human rights defenders ARE the FARC? Does that give them a free license to do some terrorism on the side? Don’t call it a false issue – Spanish cops rounded up a FARC operative who called herself an NGO defender of human rights. And she’s just one of them. When is the human rights community going to clean itself out of FARC infiltrators?

    Blaming President Uribe is so much easier and more convenient, isn’t it?

  4. maremoto Says:

    Camilla, the agent of disinformation. Maybe you have a point as to somebody who’s involved in violence against others but in order for violence to cease their must be justice and peace…so that leaves you and the little criminal fascist (Uribe) on the other side of the fence… you people don’t want peace, you want war and insecurity and keep people scared so you can continue molesting the institutions of a state usurping the rights of man, committing crimes against humanity and the peace in a systematic Nuremberg-described style of genocide and ethnic cleansing; both your own and Colombia’s. There will be accountability for people like you Camilla, I assure you of that.

    The best enunciation and denunciation of your fascist nazi police state (a mirror image of which ur attempting to transform Mexico and Colombia into):

    Prohibition Causes Most of the Harms Associated with Drugs
    By the Hon. Maria Lúcia Karam. Brazilian Federal Military Judge (ret.), May 18, 2003
    Publisher’s Note: The following, translated from the original Portuguese by
    Narco News, is the text of the speech given by Judge Maria Lúcia Karam at
    last Friday’s forum in Rio de Janeiro: “Democracy, Human Rights, War and
    Narco-Trafficking.”

    Prohibitionist Policies and the Widening of State Power to Punish

    The globalization of the prohibitionist policy option brings a process of criminalization of
    conduct related to the production, the distribution, and the consumption, of some psychoactive
    drugs (like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.), that, artificially differentiated from other substances
    (like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc.), are qualified as illicit drugs.
    This is the issue where, today, the worst publicity trick is played
    in advertising and selling the penal system as a product-service
    that sells protection and security, when, in reality, this
    instrument is a stimulant for the negative situations and is the
    creator of more and bigger conflicts, the center of a policy
    supposedly aimed to contain an exaggeratedly frightening
    circulation of those substances that it made illegal.
    This prohibitionist policy ends up causing a dangerous
    intensification of control by the State over the lives of
    individuals, leaving us a glimpse of the social formation of post-
    industrial and globalized capitalism: a maximum, vigilant and
    omnipresent face of the minimal State of neoliberal teachings.
    Taking advantage of the mystery and fantasy related to
    substances that are made illegal, it gives super-dimensionality to
    the eventual negative repercussions of the dissemination of its
    supply and demand, of hurried or false information, of empty
    words, with indefinite and detoured meaning, of the idea of a “universal evil,” that the maximum
    State, vigilant and omnipresent, assigns to drugs qualified as illicit as part of the post-modern
    necessity of the creation of new enemies and ghosts.
    Like in Europe during the 14th and 15th Centuries, in which legislative and judicial practices of
    execution and detailed legal codes permitted the identification and stigmatization of witchcraft
    and heresy, this fantasy is revived in the so-called post-modern age, to bring a more rigorous
    repression that is sold as more effective, and exceptional, laws, of abandonment of the principles
    of minimally guaranteed rights, in the area of penal measures, which are centered around a
    dominant policy said to be aimed at controlling the production, distribution, and consumption, of
    those drugs that are distinguished as illicit.
    The repression of drugs qualified as illicit has a supposition: an indefinite and indefinable
    “organized criminality” that is pretentiously related to them, notably since the 1990s: the
    principal excuse for a growing production of laws that, in Brazil, as in other countries, are very
    similar to the exceptional laws of repression created during the dictatorships.

    Maria Lúcia Karam
    Photo D.R. 2003 by Al Giordano

    The law of sacred exception expands the methods of seeking proof – such as the secret spying on
    persons, the interception of telephone communications, observation from a distance, the
    infiltration by police agents – whose true effectiveness is not as it is advertised, a supposed
    viability of a more effective control over criminality, but, rather, a larger intervention against the
    privacy and liberty of all citizens.
    Along with these invasive measures against the individual the State makes rewards only for
    itself, breaking with the necessary ethical practice that must orient penal processes or any other
    State activity in a Democratic State of Law. The praise and reward for treason brings the State to
    exercise a de-educating role in the area of interpersonal relations, of transmitting values that are
    at least as negative as those it says it wants to confront.
    Prohibitionist Policies and the Vulnerability of Rights to Liberty, Privacy and Health
    A violent and dangerous prohibitionist policy, based on intervention by the penal system,
    manifests itself in an especially serious form in the area of consumption, notably when
    criminalization is enacted – either subtly or boldly – against personal use of drugs that are
    qualified as illicit.
    The criminalization of personal use is clearly incompatible with the postulates that a government
    with a Democratic State of Law should have, and this occurs when such conduct is punished
    with the deprivation of personal liberty, or by so-called “alternative sentencing” (monetary fines
    or the restriction of other rights), or through forced medical treatment. The consumer of drugs
    qualified as illicit, stigmatized as a criminal, a delinquent, or sick person, who must suffer an
    explicit punishment or one disguised as an administrative sanction, or who is obligated to submit
    to medical treatment, is inevitably brought to one of two alternatives: If he is sick, he is not free;
    if he is free, he is evil.[1]
    In the event of simple possession of drugs for personal use, or consumption in circumstances that
    don’t involve concrete dangers for third parties, such conduct, being in the individual sphere, are
    in the field of intimacy and private life.
    The general function of law as the protection of the dignity of the person, under Brazilian
    Constitutional order, surged as one of two founding principles of the Republic, expressed in the
    third section of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution, which limits the power of the State to
    punish, and considers public damage as the obligatory point of reference for the setting of
    parameters in the design of criminal laws. In a Democratic State of Law, everything at the
    disposal of criminalizing law (this, and, all rules that prohibit certain conducts under threat of
    penal sanction) has had as its first element the occurrence of some injury or concrete danger of
    injury to the general good, that it tries to protect with a prohibition, a general law that limits the
    field of incidence with definitive rules about criminalized conduct and that can be defined as a
    relation between a subject and an object, identifiable as a right of the subject to use and enjoy
    certain objects like life, health, property, etc.
    The injury or danger of injury to the general good (this is its affectation) is revealed exactly
    when a conduct impedes or perturbs the availability of said objects that, thus, necessarily, are
    enjoyed by third parties.
    In a Democratic State of Law, whose best tonic is found in the subordination of the exercise of
    the power of law, with a view toward guaranteeing the rights and dignity of each individual or of
    the general good, must always be seen from a personal perspective. The creation of general laws
    of a collective or institutional character is only allowed when there is a need to protect individual
    rights. The provision of what is called the control for the public good that is described with
    vague expressions such as public order or public peace, orient the attention of penal law in the
    direction of criminalization of conducts that obtain that illegal status only because the authority
    of the State merely declares its will that the conduct is incompatible with a Democratic State of
    Law.
    In the hypothesis of drugs made illegal, the only recognizable common good in the criminalizing
    laws is public health, as the primitive article 281 of the Brazilian Penal Code first made explicit,
    and was later substituted by special legislation. Public Health – a genus and species of public
    purity – has, as is known, a collective character that is determined by those placed in charge of it.
    Its impact, as happens in relation to other legal rights of this nature, is only verified through the
    expansion of injury or concrete danger of injury to an undetermined number of subjects.
    Thus, when the law is aimed at the person who possesses drugs, or when his consumption is
    done in a way that doesn’t surpass the individual realm, he has not affected public health. The
    law prohibits something to do with himself as opposed to behavior that is expansive to third
    parties. These are private behaviors that, in the absence of a concrete impact on the common
    good of third parties, are behaviors that, as such, cannot be the object of any form of
    criminalization.
    He (the drug user) takes part in a liberty and intimacy of private life with the option of doing
    things that seem to others – or that effectively are seen – as errant, “ugly,” immoral or damaging
    to him self. The dignity of the human being, recognized since the origins of a Democratic State
    of Law, impedes the forced transformation of the individual. As long as the conduct does not
    affect the rights of others, the individual can be or do whatever he likes. What the others – and,
    these include the State – can do, under these circumstances, is to try to demonstrate to the
    individual that, supposedly, he is harming himself, that his behavior is not good, but the law can
    never obligate him to change his behavior, even less so through the imposition of a penalty, in
    any conduct of this nature or dimension.
    Beyond that, the violent and dangerous prohibitionist policy does not exhaust its (ir)rationality
    through the illegitimate limiting of the rights to individual liberty, intimacy and private life.
    It is also in this same level of consumption that two more carefully hidden paradoxes of
    criminalization surge. The false image, produced by the self-referencing system in which a
    criminalizing policy toward certain psychoactive substances made illegal is developed, impedes
    the protection of public health that it creates the very reason for the criminalization. To the
    contrary, it is seen affected by the same criminalization, bringing, with prohibition, greater risks
    to the physical and mental health of the consumers of the prohibited substances.
    On this point, it’s enough to think of the effects of making a conduct clandestine that impedes the
    control of the quality of the substances produced and sold toward a lack of hygiene, that
    complicates the seeking of assistance, answers and information, that generates greater tensions,
    that stigmatizes, isolates, and marginalizes.

    Prohibitionist Policies, the Market, and Violence
    On the level of the production and distribution of the selected psychoactive substances that,
    legally differentiated, are qualified as illicit drugs, the lack of commitment to reality by the
    globalized prohibitionist policy and its manipulation of fantasies and false information already
    seem to have created its own language.

    To speak of “narco-trafficking,” is to destroy all meaning of the word, in the same way that
    “organized crime can be used to define anything, with a minimum of scientific endorsement,
    translates to its contents.
    The expression “trafficking,” that has the feeling of illegal business, already brings a strong
    emotional charge that is different than that of the equivalent expression “illegal business.” The
    beginning of the “war on drugs” policy’s use of this “trafficking” expression, the radical use of
    the English word “narcotics,” that, being present in other languages, too, permitted, at the same
    time, a unification of languages with a still larger emotional charge, referring to the activities of
    the production and distribution of the drugs qualified as illicit. The expression “narco-
    trafficking” passes, thus, to be repeated and internalized without being perceived – or not
    wanting to be perceived – with the clear lack of commitment with reality or with science, and is
    packaged in a distorted and functional use of language.
    The creation of the useful and exacerbated emotional phrase passed quietly over the fact that the
    principle goal of the prohibitionist policy continued to be cocaine: that, as cannot be ignored, is
    not a narcotic; to the contrary, it is known evidently as a stimulant. This generalized and
    distorted utilization of the expression “narco-trafficking,” its obvious functionality for the
    consolidation of the internationalized direction of the prohibitionist policy, still serves to feed
    manipulated fantasies about something mysterious and powerful to be confronted at any cost.
    In the same form, there surged, was installed, and consolidated, in the 1990s, the expressions
    “organized crime” and “organized criminality,” with what pretends to offer the idea of a
    supposed new species of criminality, one that is globalized, multinational, powerful, that is seen
    occupying the space of a new “universal evil,” constantly associated with the production and
    distribution of drugs qualified as illicit.
    Trying to appoint characteristics that are typical of a business structure, or supposed infiltrations
    into the apparatuses of political power, (to the activity of drug production and distribution), the
    words still don’t succeed in arriving at a definition of this supposedly post-modern mode of
    criminal actuation. In reality, all conduct, criminalized or not, that is not limited to being an
    instantaneous or instinctive reaction to a determined situation. It has an organized component
    that is demonstrated, still more especially, when said conducts bring together more than one
    person with a common goal that ordinarily applies to the field of legal conduct as well as illegal
    conduct.
    The expressions “organized criminality” and “organized crime” do not have, thus, any particular
    meaning at all. Like the expression “narco-trafficking,” they have the same emotional and
    frightening charge that already was seen, in other times, with expressions like “witchcraft” or
    “heresy.” Like the expression “narco-trafficking,” they only serve to scare and to permit the
    production of excessive laws, applied to whatever is wanted or convenient as a supposed
    manifestation of such an imaginary phenomenon.
    The substitution of Medieval means for a minimum of compromise and attention to reality and to
    science, certainly, could help to untie the (ir)rationality of a globalized prohibitionist policy on
    the level of the production and distribution of psychoactive substances made illegal.
    Taking economic science into account and thinking, for example, the expansion of the consumer
    markets of illicit drugs obeys the logic of capitalist economic relations as a determining factor in
    the production, opening new opportunities for accumulation of capital and generation of business
    and, beyond that, for bypassing the limited opportunities offered by legal economic activities,
    such as that which has already occurred in other stages of capitalist development.
    This economic logic already permits the inevitable ineffectiveness of a policy of control founded
    in the intervention of a penal system: the businesses – large or small – and the employees of the
    production and distribution businesses of drugs qualified as illicit, when some prisoners are
    eliminated from the business, they are easily replaced by others equally desirous of the
    employment opportunities or the accumulation of capital; opportunities that, more than being
    repressed, persist when the favorable socioeconomic circumstances of demand exist, created by
    the incentive of the market. Where there has been demand, there will be supply.
    Beyond that, please think, also, in the worst consequence of this artificial variable introduced
    into the market: the violence as a corollary of illegality. When it makes certain goods and
    services illegal, the penal system functions as a true generator of criminality and of violence, a
    phenomenon that can also be perceived in relation to games. To the contrary of what is claimed,
    it is not the drugs that generate the criminality and violence. It is the very fact of their illegality
    that produces and inserts criminalized businesses – more or less organized – into the market –
    while simultaneously bringing violence as a necessary sub-product for the economic activities
    that are developed in this way.
    Being the true creator of the criminality and violence related with drugs made illicit, through the
    intervention of the penal system over the market, the maximum State, vigilant and omnipresent,
    makes use of this same criminality and violence, manipulating the fear and insecurity provoked
    by real or imaginary actions of these currents, to widen the punitive power and intensify control
    over the lives of individuals.
    Conclusion
    If we want to end the fear and insecurity, and the contemporary hysteria created by the violence
    associated with criminality, this is already a decisive argument to walk a path to
    decriminalization.
    It’s enough to follow the example of history. It is always valuable to repeat that what defeated
    the violence in Chicago of the 1920s and 30s was not the work of the Untouchables of Eliot
    Ness: Only the end of the Dry Laws did it.
    What’s more, the reduction of violence isn’t even the best reason to walk the path to
    decriminalization. More important is to remember the warning of Nils Christie that the worst
    danger of criminality in modern societies is not crime itself, but, rather, that the fight against it
    ends up conducting those societies to totalitarianism.[2]
    This significant warning should direct our attention to the need to break with the tricky savior of
    intervention by the penal system, to break with the revived Medieval fantasy that permits a post-
    modern sacrifice of new heretics and witches, to break with the unmeasured control,
    demonstrated through the exercise of the State’s power to punish, to bring with the threats to
    fundamental principles of a Democratic State of Law, packaged in excessive laws, the need to
    break with a globalized prohibitionist policy, the major cause of the damages related to the drugs
    made illicit.
    This globalized political policy is only sustained by the distortion of reason. Only a distorted
    reasoning can believe that the criminalization of the conduct of producers, distributors and
    consumers of some among innumerable psychoactive substances could serve to deter the seeking
    of the means of alteration of consciousness that has roots in the very history of humanity.
    Only a distorted reasoning can permit that, in exchange for an illusory search, the same State
    foments the violence, that this is done only through what it does to the activities of production
    and distribution of the drugs qualified as illicit, because their market is illegal. Only a distorted
    reasoning could authorize that, below this same illusory pretext, restrictions of liberty are placed
    on those who, eventually, could cause damage to their own health. Only a distorted reasoning
    can find peace with an expansion of the power to punish, that, utilizing a militarized repression, a
    growing disrespect for the classic principles of rights, is threatening the very foundations of the
    Democratic State of Law.
    Freed from the negative effects of criminalization, the drugs that, currently differentiated, are
    today qualified as illicit would certainly cause less damage. Eventual excesses or incentives to
    careless or uncontrolled consumption of psychoactive substances, whatever they may be, must be
    the object of measures that are disconnected from what is the harmful, counterproductive, or
    painful intervention by the penal system. We can rescue the commitment to reason by
    demonstrating truly effective Harm Reduction in dealing with the causes of excessive, careless,
    or uncontrolled consumption.
    ——————-
    The Hon. Maria Lúcia Karam is a retired Law Judge, a former Public Defender for the State of
    Rio De Janeiro, and ex-Auditing Judge of the Federal Military Justice system. She is a member
    of the Brazilian Institute of Criminal Sciences, the Judges Association for Democracy and of the
    Carioca Criminology Institute. She is a professor of the course “Jurisdiction and Competence” in
    the Masters of Penal Sciences program of Cândido Mendes University.
    Notes:
    [1] Cf. Alessandro Baratta, “FUNDAMENTOS IDEOLÓGICOS DA ATUAL POLÍTICA
    CRIMINAL SOBRE DROGAS”, in SÓ SOCIALMENTE …, org. Odair Dias Gonçalves e
    Francisco Inácio Bastos, Rio de Janeiro, Relume Dumará, 1992, páginas 35 a 49.
    [2] in LA INDUSTRIA DEL CONTROL DEL DELITO – LA NUEVA FORMA DEL
    HOLOCAUSTO?, Spanish language edition, translated by Sara Costa (Editores del Puerto,
    Buenos Aires, 1993, página 24).
    Published by The Narco News Bulleton
    Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America
    Illicit Drugs and Globalization
    http://www.narconews.com/Issue30/article785.html

    of course this is obvious to you but since its minorities and people in other countries (dem damn furregners) then what the hell..

    fucking scumbags, scum of the earth rednecks…
    and the judiciary of this country…lol the very institutions meant to protect of the rights of man from the “values” of the majority is at the center of this, this corrupt evil farce of a democracy….

    I hope you live in interesting times.

  5. Medellin Colombia Says:

    I am an American living in Medellin and I see the positive effects than America´s investment in Plan Colombia has made on the ground here. While no plan is without drawbacks, I think the vast majority of non-political Colombians will tell you that they are much safer today than they were before the implementation of Plan Colombia.

  6. MZR Says:

    Yes, Medellin Colombia, you might be right when talking about urban Colombians. For this group, the security situation has definitely improved under Uribe. But what about the rural ‘non-political’ Colombians? Here, the level of security has decreased greatly since the intensification of the conflict, a direct result of Plan Colombia and the greater militarisation of the violence (especially in the South of Colombia). These rural Colombians will very rarely be surveyed (thus will be absent from the various polling data of ‘Colombian opinion’) and their opinions are very rarely heard. So, yes, I think that for Colombia’s major cities security has definitely increased, including Medellin. You could even argue that this is the case for the majority of Colombians, given the greater number of urban dwellers to rural dwellers. But, ask a campesino from Putumayo if his situation has improved since the implementation of Plan Colombia and the answer could well be different.

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