Let’s hope this isn’t true Files point to DAS “Political Warfare”
Apr 092010

  • Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim is to sign a new defense agreement with the United States at the Pentagon on Monday. The agreement includes no bases or permanent U.S. military presence, but will streamline future cooperation. Colombian Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata joked that Venezuela might shut off its trade with Brazil in retaliation, as it did after Colombia signed a defense agreement with the United States – one which did include use of military bases – last October. After signing the accord with Brazil, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is to travel next week to Colombia, Peru and Barbados.
  • In a big upcoming arms purchase, Brazil appears likely to buy Rafale high-tech fighter jets from France, instead of F-18s made by U.S. aerospace company Boeing. The deciding factor: France is willing to allow more technology transfer to Brazil.
  • Two Colombian presidential candidates, both popular former mayors and neither a part of President Álvaro Uribe’s coalition, decided to merge their candidacy this week. Antanas Mockus and running mate Sergio Fajardo now appear in second place in a poll published Friday.
  • Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva says to forget about peace talks with the FARC until the group is militarily defeated. Silva’s predecessor, frontrunning presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos, says the door is open to dialogue, but only if the FARC demonstrate “good faith and stop being terrorists.”
  • The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a resolution (H.Res. 1224) calling on Colombia to fulfill its obligations to protect indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and to aid the internally displaced. See a statement from the Washington Office on Latin America and a suggested action from the Latin America Working Group.
  • As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speculated that his country might sell Venezuela US$5 billion worth of weapons, the State Department questioned Venezuela’s need for these arms and expressed concern that they could end up elsewhere in the hemisphere. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s response: “Don’t be stupid, Yankees.”
  • Czech playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel published a column condemning the arrest of Venezuelan opposition politician Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, “because it demonstrates just how far President Hugo Chávez’s regime is willing to stray from democratic norms.” The New York Times ran a harrowing account of María Lourdes Afiuni, a Venezuelan judge who, after issuing a ruling that displeased President Chávez, was jailed in a cell near more than 20 inmates whom she had sentenced. She is still there.
  • Bolivia held mayoral and gubernatorial elections last Sunday. President Evo Morales’ MAS party performed well, but not as strongly as expected. Morales called for an investigation of electoral authorities in regions where the MAS lost. Good analyses from Miguel Centellas and the Andean Information Network.
  • In Chile, the Group of Relatives of the Detained Disappeared (AFDD) put out a statement questioning some of President Sebastián Piñera’s appointments and statements for their “authoritarian overtones.”
  • In Peru, six artisanal miners have died after clashes with police. The miners were protesting government efforts to restrict unregulated gold mining. Human Rights Watch called for an investigation of the incident.
  • The publisher of the Mexican magazine Proceso has come under fire for paying a clandestine visit to top narcotrafficker Ismael Zambada, having his picture taken with him and giving him a softball interview.
  • In my considered opinion, the second episode of “Isla Presidencial” is funnier than the first.

18 Responses to “Friday links”

  1. Santiago Garcia Says:

    El negrito se ve buena gente

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    While in Colombia the wiretappings scandal gets a step nearer Mr Uribe, the new york times, washington post and Street Journal, keep whistling looking sideways

    Las chuzadas eran dirigidas desde Palacio: Valencia Copete

    Bogotá. El ex presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, César Julio Valencia Copete, al salir de la audiencia de los cinco ex funcionarios del DAS implicados en el caso de las chuzadas, aseguró que desde la sede presidencial, la Casa de Nariño, “no solamente se daban las ordenes de los ‘operativos’ sino que además se dirigían abiertamente estos actos ilícitos y criminales” contra los funcionarios y personas consideradas como opositoras al gobierno del presidente Álvaro Uribe.

    “Es grave que se tilde a la Corte Suprema de Justicia como opositor del Gobierno por el simple hecho de cumplir a cabalidad las funciones establecidas por la ley” afirmó Valencia al terminar la sesión donde se les imputaron los cargos de concierto para delinquir agravado, abuso de autoridad y prevaricato a los acusados.

    Uribe acusa a ex presidente de Corte Suprema Colombia
    domingo, 11 de abril de 2010
    11 de abril de 2010, 16:26Bogotá, 11 abr (PL) El jefe de Estado Álvaro Uribe denunció hoy al ex presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, César Valencia, por difamaciones contra el máximo jefe ejecutivo de Colombia.

    Un comunicado expedido por la Secretaría de Prensa de la Casa de Nariño confirma que el magistrado Valencia fue acusado ante el Congreso por el Presidente de la República.

    La razón -explica la nota- es haber injuriado y calumniado al primer mandatario colombiano al afirmar mentirosamente que éste lo llamó por teléfono para platicar sobre el tema de la detención de parlamentarios.

  3. Camilla Says:

    I vote ‘yes’ on the interview with the Mexican doper. Any info that gets out about this dirtbag may be the info that the authorities can use to get rid of him. I vote ‘no’ on criticism of Proceso. Reporting is what reporters do or they’re in some other business.

  4. Camilla Says:

    The Mockus/Fajardo hookup is interesting. I wouldn’t vote for them if I were Colombian but I don’t see them as closet Chavistas out looking for their first ‘peace accord’ with terrorists either. I am especially delighted to see that they have sucked the life out of the despicable Petro’s campaign. What’s he polling now, 2%? About the same as the number of Colombians who support FARC.

    So, when will Mockus pull down his pants?

  5. lfm Says:

    The Polo Democratico obtained 8% of the vote in the Congressional elections, now is polling around 5% and, yes, it might disappear before the first round because some are strategically migrating to the Mockus campaign and I can’t blame them. There’s even some open letter out there in support of him with my name on it (although I’m now beginning to regret it). So, question for the audience: how many FARC sympathizers does this add up to? 8%? 5%? 2%? If you voted Polo for Congress and not now, do you have blood in your hands? Only in one of them?

    Actually this are all trick questions. Anybody who is not a useful idiot for the paramilitary knows that el Polo is not a front for the FARC and that, if anything, there is a lot of bad blood between Petro and the FARC. But, hey, never let facts get in the way of a conspiracy theory.

  6. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Mockus? another clown knocking on “Nari’s House”? :)

  7. lfm Says:

    Yeah, Jaime. I’m not thrilled about Antanas either. As much as he was a counter-cultural hippy in his youth with some progressive sympathies, I’m sure that his government would neoliberal in economic matters (give or take a few worthy initiatives) and that he would make just perfunctory gestures towards a peace process, gestures that would lead nowhere. At this point, except for the “hip factor” I have a hard time finding daylight between him and Rafael Pardo.

    But, and this is crucial, given current circumstances, that is an improvement. I rather have the economy ran by true neoliberals with whom you can have a honest argument instead of the kleptocratic mafia we have right now. Neoliberals at least believe that the state should be neutral instead of what we’ve seen these years where the state completely farms out its policies to big business, let’s write the rules and then pours taxpayers’ money on them under guise of “investor confidence.” Antanas would not try too hard to make peace, but at least he would not get all too chummy with the paramilitary mass-murderers to protect their lands. That’s an improvement. Antanas, I trust, would accept that if you disagree with him that doesn’t make you a traitor, a fifth-column, a seditious agent that has to be wiretapped. That’s an improvement. I guess that his instincts are that we don’t have to be a pawn in the US beef with Venezuela so that we can try, tricky as it might be, to step back from the brink of cross-border hostilities. That’s an improvement. In general, given the choice, he would prefer calm solutions which is more than you can say about Santos for whom any solution that does not imply bombing, raiding, buying airplanes and, hopefully, killing lots of people is a disappointment.

    This is not to say that we should all vote for Antanas. In fact, like I said, although I signed a letter of support, I’m now regretting it. I’m coming around to the view that the Polo should not offer him any support unless and until he takes the first step. He has spurned the Polo repeatedly. His Congressional delegation is smaller than that of el Polo. It is he who needs to take the first step. Otherwise, I’m beginning to think that it’s perfectly fine for el Polo to just sit on its hands and, in case he wins, get ready for a spirited opposition. I don’t know. My thoughts on this keep changing every day.

  8. Alvaro Hurtado Says:

    It’s interesting to read that, LFM. As for myself…I’ve said a couple of good things about Mockus in the past, but I’m currently struggling. I definitely like what he represents, for similar reasons going by what you’ve written, but he hasn’t fully convinced me yet. If anything though, I would like to hear a more organized and concrete set of proposals before finally making up my mind.

    At the very least, while the Green Party itself has a bit of a shady history and the candidate himself likes engaging in a bunch of stunts that I don’t particularly care for, Mockus has a pretty good team surrounding him in purely administrative terms. Whether or not that’s enough in light of the country’s complex problems is something that remains to be seen.

    Still, there’s about a month and a half to think about it. I don’t believe Mockus will magically save this country or that his potential government will be perfect, despite his good intentions. In fact, quite the opposite outcome could happen if fate deals us an ugly hand, but then again you could say the same thing about anyone else.

  9. lfm Says:

    Just because I can’t get this off my mind, here’s some more vacillation. If we go by the math of the last polls, the key question is how does the Noemi vote breaks down between Santos and Mockus. If it’s, as I suspect, a 2:1 ratio for Santos, this puts him at 51% (his 37 + 14 out of Noemi) not counting Vargas Lleras that would very likely also go Santos’s way. If it’s more favorable to Mockus, then it becomes a cliffhanger with runoff, the whole shebang. At that point, and I think it’s an unlikely scenario because to my mind Santos is the most likely winner, Antanas needs the Polo’s support if he wants to win. So I want to see him asking for it politely.

    Yes, the Polo has some corrupt members and that’s what Antanas keeps arguing as a main impediment. But it is unfair to treat the entire party as if it were anywhere near as corrupt as the Uribe Administration. They’re just not on the same league even when you take into account that Samuel Moreno is Bogota’s major (where, incidentally, he cuts shady deals with the uribistas).

    Furthermore, if Antanas is serious about his talk of “democratic legality” he has to come forward against illegal wiretaps and other kind of persecutions. And, if he want to put his money where his mouth is, he has to reach out to some of the main victims of wiretapping and persecution: the Polo (and, yes the Liberal Party).

    I think Antanas is a decent human being (which is more than we can say of what we have now). But to me that’s not enough. If I were in any position of influence in the Polo (I’m just a sympathizer with some friends), I would tell him to “show me the money.” Based on its Congressional delegation and its trajectory as opposition, the Polo deserves at least a couple of important seats in a would-be Mockus cabinet and some commitment of Antanas in favor of some progressive ideas (e.g. basic income, my lifetime favorite). Less than that and I’d just wish him luck and walk away.

  10. Jaime Bustos Says:

    As followers of this blog might already know I try not to let myself be guided by the mediatic spur of the moment.

    I found an intereting article (spanish only) : The green riddle. Take a look.


  11. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Though there still nothing on the BBC, WP, NYT, WSY, or Adam’s blog, The United states suspended its aid to DAS ( Colombian Intelligence Agency) because of the wiretaps scandal


  12. Jaime Bustos Says:


    Colombian wiretap scandal moves closer to Uribe


  13. Jaime Bustos Says:

    In a special report on Tuesday Colombian news source CM& claimed to have access to documents proving that information collected through the surveillance and wiretapping of judges, journalists and politicians conducted by security agency DAS was passed on to members of the government.

    The documents were obtained by the Prosecutor General’s Office and used to justify the arrest of five former DAS officials last Friday.

    Among the documents is allegedly a file labeled “President Uribe,” which was used by the DAS officials to collate “documents of interest to the Colombian president.”

    A second document allegedly shows evidence of the surveillance of journalist Holman Morris by the security agency, including an apparently illegally-obtained email written by Morris.

    The final piece of evidence mentioned in CM&’s report documents the opinions and intentions of Supreme Court magistrates concerning the re-election referendum of President Alvaro Uribe.

    The report is allegedly also labeled with the word “President” and documents which of the court’s magistrates were against the approval of a referendum that would allow for the potential re-election of Uribe to his third term as president.

    In reference to the new evidence, the president of Colombia’s Supreme Court, Jaime Arrubla, said on Monday that “everything seemed to indicate” that the government had been directly involved in the wire-tapping of court magistrates, which he found “horrifying.”


  14. Alvaro Hurtado Says:

    By this point in time, I would say that the DAS scandal speaks for itself and, as such, denying Uribe’s responsibility for apparently ordering much, if not all, of this illegal wiretapping and receiving the collected information would be nothing less than miraculous, provided all the evidence supports (as it definitely seems to after a quick review) what has already been described.

    Moving on, I do have some issues with the article Jaime Bustos has linked to, the one speaking about the so-called Green Uribism, because, even if you take the author’s comments as fully accurate descriptions of the situation (which I don’t)…Uribism is a completely different socio-political phenomenon and involves some very specific attitudes and premises, not just anything that can be remotely considered as authoritarianism (which shouldn’t be confused with simply implementing restrictions or enforcing rules) but rather the particular way in which Uribe himself has governed and the policies he has defended.

    In other words, there is an objective and, if it comes to that, moral difference between the different kinds of restrictions involved. The same thing goes for the scandals that have been brought up as points of comparisons in a rather forceful manner.

    If you want to argue, generally speaking, that political slogans and promises shouldn’t be taken at face value or with a grain of salt (which I agree with), then fine, but that is something that probably applies to anyone who could ever participate in Colombian or international politics, regardless of their ideology or whatever policies they defend.

  15. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Thanks Alvaro for your feedback. I personally followed Mockus’s Bogotá administration as a Mayor with interest, and though I agree he seems a honest man (to the extent a politician can) , I concur with the blogger argument on his authoritarian behavior.

    From another perspective, I don’t buy his being portrayed as a genius or guru of the metaphysics of sociologism, on the contrary I think that he may sometimes be as boorish as people governing Colombian in the last 8 years.

  16. lfm Says:

    I keep having concerns about Antanas. To reiterate, he is a decent man but, as Jaime rightly points out, he’s not above the occasional authoritarian outburst. That’s OK, most people are like that. The problem I see is that, since he insists on not taking a clear position on the main issues facing the country, except for the usual anti-corruption pabulum, we just can’t know who will be calling the shots in that would-be Administration when the sh*t hits the fan. Even if you decapitate the uribista behemoth in the elections, it will have lots of tentacles in many places. Look at Congress; the same Congress we’ve had so far and that has made all kinds of pacts with Uribe and his “muchachos.” Then look at the business interests built around the massive paramilitary land-grab. Those guys are not going away and will find their own “decent” fronts to inject themselves in the policy process. Look at the Americans. Obama will never be able to (or even try) to change the mid-level bureaucracy that has been egging on Uribe and that lord knows what else it’s been up to on the ground through all these years.

    It would be easier to fight back all these forces if Antanas would for once put his foot down and came out with a set of firm commitments on policy, drawing lines in the sand as it were. And I mean real stuff that people can touch and see, not some semiotic po-mo babble about the importance of the law and the “recognition of the other” and stuff like that. Real stuff such as land policy, peace negotiations and so on.

    Of course, he won’t do that because that will scare voters away. That’s exactly why I don’t think we are out of the woods yet.

  17. Jaime Bustos Says:

    lfm I always cherish your ellaborating on this subjects. But If I remember well Mockus has already showed his position on the peace negotiations: ABSOLUTELY NO. Look for it I think I read it on the caracol dot com dot co site.

  18. Jaime Bustos Says:

    It’s absolutely outrageous that not even a word has been written on the latest findings of the fiscalia connecting Mr Uribe to the wiretap scandals in the english written media (or tv for that matter). It’s not accidental that mafia is ruling Colombia. And I am afraid it will continue to be that way. After all the power is not in the hands of citizens. Everything is decided outside by the same powers that whacked Mr Kennedy.

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