“This free-trade agreement is dead.” Notes on yesterday’s vote in Colombia
Oct 222007

Thanks for the bounce, El Tiempo.

This may be the last post for several days. I’m going to a conference in Quito later this week, and I still haven’t finished a paper for that conference on Colombian civil-military relations. (It was supposed to be turned in last week, but our accompaniment of Senator Gustavo Petro’s visit to Washington left little time for writing.) I hope to post again from Quito, if not before. Here are some belated links of interest.

  • A blog post eleven days ago about President Uribe’s recent “tantrums” was excerpted last Wednesday in El Tiempo, Colombia’s most-circulated newspaper. Normally, our blog exceeds 200 visitors on a good day. Thanks to the link from El Tiempo, though, that number spiked up to 5,322 last Wednesday.
  • Several U.S., Colombian and European human rights groups released a disturbing report last week detailing an increase in the military’s killings of civilians – in many cases presenting the dead as guerrillas killed in combat. An English summary of the report is available on WOLA’s website. The Miami Herald reported that the findings are “threatening millions of dollars in U.S. military aid and may raise further questions over a pending free-trade agreement.”
  • Citing the rise in these “extrajudicial executions,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a rare joint communiqué calling on the U.S. Congress to maintain a months-old “hold” on military aid frozen pending compliance with human-rights conditions in U.S. foreign aid law.
  • Rather than take the issue of extrajudicial executions seriously, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in a July speech claimed that “the guerrillas have another strategy: every time there is a casualty in the guerrillas, they immediately mobilize their chorus leaders in the country and abroad to say that it was an extrajudicial execution.”

  • President Uribe took a similar tone last week before an unusual audience:
    the inauguration of a special session, in Bogotá, of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

    Here, each time the guerrillas and their echoes feel that they could be defeated, they appeal to the resource of [denouncing] human-rights violations. Actions against the guerrillas are advancing, so therefore any killed guerrilla is categorized as an “extrajudicial execution.”

  • Witness protection is absolutely critical if any effort to dismantle organized crime is to succeed. So it was very disturbing to read an article in last Sunday’s edition of the Colombian newsmagazine Semana about the terrible conditions in which one protected witness has found himself living.

    Pérez [the witness, who testified against paramilitaries], along with his wife, has been in the Prosecutor General’s witness protection program for four and a half years. During this time he has lived in eight different apartments. His daughter was born three years ago under lock and key, she has grown without having any social life and has not even had the opportunity to enter a preschool. “She has never had friends and the Prosecutor General’s office does not include her in the children’s events for the other kids who are growing up within the witness protection programs. But the worst is that my daughter is very malnourished,” said the witness, who showed SEMANA the moist, humid conditions of the dwelling they occupy, the clothes eaten by fungi. And, as though it were a jail, the apartment’s door, which is padlocked.

  • Last week the Institute for Policy Studies gave Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro its 31st Letelier-Moffitt human-rights award. The award was presented by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois). Pictures from the ceremony can be viewed here.

One Response to “Friday links (Monday edition)”

  1. Russell Says:

    Enjoy Quito! I spent fall 2000 studying there. If you get a chance I recall a really good vegetarian restaurant in Gringolandia called El Maple.

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