Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos may look bored, but in fact there’s a lot going on right now. I’m in Chicago for a few events and meetings, which are going to keep me from writing much today. But I want to point to three things:
1. Senator Gustavo Petro held his long-awaited congressional debate on paramilitary-government links in Antioquia, a department that Ãlvaro Uribe represented as a senator from 1986 to 1994, and as governor from 1995 to 1997.
From today’s Washington Post:
Basing his accusations on government documents and depositions by former paramilitary members and military officers, Sen. Gustavo Petro said the militiamen met at Uribe’s Guacharacas farm as well as ranches owned by his brother, Santiago Uribe, and a close associate, Luis Alberto Villegas. “From there, at night, they would go out and kill people,” Petro said, referring to the sprawling ranch owned by Ãlvaro Uribe.
If you understand Spanish, you can view Petro’s presentation in its entirety on the website of his political party, the Polo DemocrÃ¡tico. Here is other coverage:
2. Sen. Patrick Leahy has put a hold on 2006 military aid to Colombia that was “unfrozen” earlier this month, when the State Department certified that the Colombian military’s human-rights record was improving. This $55 million is once again frozen until Sen. Leahy – who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee in charge of foreign aid – gets a fuller explanation of how the State Department could possibly see things as improving right now.
3. The Colombian government and ELN negotiators finally sat down in Havana and began talks yesterday, five days later than the current round was scheduled to begin. The ELN has offered a partial cease-fire, which the government is unlikely to accept. Talks continue behind closed doors, but pessimism abounds.