NGOs in league with… the paramilitaries? On the road this week
Oct 302009

  • We’re all waiting to see whether the Honduran Congress (following an advisory opinion by the deeply anti-Zelaya Supreme Court) will approve an agreement reached late yesterday to allow Manuel Zelaya to return to the country’s presidency, four months after being deposed by a coup. The main points of the agreement between Zelaya and acting President Roberto Micheletti are laid out in Micheletti’s statement from last night. If the agreement is accepted, and Zelaya gets to serve out his term, the November 29 elections will receive international recognition. And the U.S. diplomats who traveled to Tegucigalpa this week to put pressure on both sides (mainly Thomas Shannon of the State Department and Daniel Restrepo of the National Security Council) will deserve a big congratulation. But let’s make sure this actually happens first.
  • In a private ceremony this morning, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield and Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez signed the “Complementary agreement for cooperation and technical assistance in defense and security,” which formalizes a U.S. presence at seven Colombian military bases for ten years. We still do not know what else is in this agreement, which was negotiated in secret and will not require the approval of either country’s Congress, though in the United States it will be shared with both houses’ foreign relations committees before it goes into effect. (We will add a link to the agreement here if we manage to obtain a copy.) Recent press reports include a few clues, however.
    • El Nuevo Herald: “U.S. government officials told El Nuevo Herald that it was the Colombian government that requested that the details of the agreement be kept secret.”
    • El Espectador, which had a chance to see the secret opinion filed by the State Council, one of Colombia’s high courts, reports that the judicial body found the agreement, “both in its objectives and in its obligations, to be very broad and unbalanced for the country [Colombia].” Other excerpts:
      • “The United States determines the activities to be carried out, and Colombia is only a cooperating party.”
      • The accord “mentions the use of, and access to, military bases, without determining the form and limits of either.”
      • “No valid reason exists for why the United States can establish satellite receiving stations for radio and television broadcasts, without any licensing procedures or concessions and at no cost.”
      • “In addition, the State Council characterized as ‘imperious’ the renegotiation of immunity terms, ‘whose inequality is derived from the offering of this immunity to U.S. personnel without discrimination.’”
    • Semana: “Asked what changes in U.S.-Colombian military relations would justify the signing of a new treaty, a Defense Ministry source said that operations will take place where they have never operated before, and there will be sharing of sophisticated equipment not included in the accords signed under the “Plan Colombia” umbrella.
  • Contravía, an investigative program on an independent Colombian television network, broadcast a show about Eudaldo Díaz, the mayor of El Roble, Sucre (in 3 parts [1 | 2 | 3]; part 1 is embedded below). At a 2003 televised meeting with President Uribe in Sucre’s capital, Díaz took the microphone to denounce that the paramilitaries, in league with many of Sucre’s top politicians present at the meeting, were going to kill him. A week later, Díaz was dead. The governor of Sucre at the time, Salvador Araña, is under investigation for allegedly ordering the murder. This week, days after the Contravía episode aired, a judge ordered that the chief of Sucre’s police at the time, Norman León, be investigated.

  • The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere held a hearing Tuesday about Iran’s role in Latin America. Bloggings By Boz tries to discern patterns in this subcommittee’s hearings since the Democrats took control of the House in 2007.
  • The Puerto Rican band Calle 13 had a concert in Manizales, Colombia cancelled after its lead singer showed up on MTV Latino wearing a T-shirt with messages accusing President Álvaro Uribe of supporting paramilitaries and criticizing Colombia’s U.S. base agreement. The band played Venezuela this week, where Hugo Chávez offered to sing with them. Politics aside, here’s a good song: “No Hay Nadie Como Tú,” by Calle 13 and the Mexican band Café Tacuba.

4 Responses to “Friday links”

  1. AR Says:

    Dear Adam,

    The name is Salvador Arana, not “Araña”, .. funny typo.

  2. Adam Isacson Says:

    I always forget which one is the spider and which one is the para-politician. I’ll leave that one in there.

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    ha ha ha ha … you might as well have called him spiderman ha ha ha

  4. Jiame Bustos Says:


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