We’ve grown accustomed to hearing Colombian government officials accuse the country’s human rights organizations of supporting guerrilla groups. While they never present proof, the notion that human rights defenders are “spokespeople for terrorism” of the left is a regular theme in speeches by President Ãlvaro Uribe and others. (See examples in the section that begins on page 33 of this report, recently produced by a coalition of Colombian groups.)
But here is an accusation we’ve never heard before. This 20-second video shows Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos, in a Colombian television interview granted last Thursday. Santos is responding to news that Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (FiscalÃa) reopened an investigation into allegations that, ten years ago, he urged paramilitary leaders to set up a presence in BogotÃ¡:
Santos seems to think that Colombia’s human rights NGOs are now in league not just with the guerrillas, but also with the right-wing paramilitaries – and that the judicial system should investigate.
Keep in mind that, in the Uribe government, the human rights portfolio is managed by the Vice President’s Office.