- First, apologies for the relative lack of posts during the past week or so. We’ve been making lots of improvements to what will soon be the new “Just the Facts” U.S. aid-monitoring site. We’re about a month away from launch. (Old version – New version; comments are welcome.)
If you ever wanted to know, for instance, how much counter-drug aid went to Central America between 2002 and 2005, you can now find that out. (It’s $52.4 million, $25.6 of it for Panama – view it by country or by aid program.)
- Old, unresolved human-rights cases have been dominating the news throughout the region.
- Mexico commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Acteal massacre in Chiapas.
- In Argentina, two notorious officers already found guilty of past human-rights abuses were sent from military to civilian prisons. One, Alfredo Astiz, was the subject of an entire chapter of Tina Rosenberg’s now-classic 1992 study, Children of Cain.
- Prosecutors finished a round of questioning of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori.
- Gen. Gregorio Ãlvarez, Uruguay’s last dictator, was sent to prison.
- Back in Colombia, Semana magazine’s MarÃa Teresa Ronderos reviews the paramilitary leadership’s confessions of past crimes during 2007.
- Don’t miss Ãlvaro Vargas Llosa’s interview with a testy Ãlvaro Uribe in The New Republic.
Another argument used by Democrats in the U.S. Congress, and even some Republicans–that there has been a rise in coca plantations–makes Uribe defensive: “If that’s what they believe, then let them scrap Plan Colombia. The U.S. government said that last year we had 150,000 hectares of coca, but the United Nations said we had 79,000. Why don’t they learn to measure? We have extradited more than 700 criminals to the United States. What more do they want?”
- Two articles point to recent official abuse of the “terrorist” label in Latin America. The Nation tells the story of Salvadoran activists being rounded up and arrested on “terrorism” charges, which promise long sentences. EFE updates on a 65-day-old hunger strike by Mapuche Indians imprisoned on terrorism charges in Chile.The Nation piece had this chilling quote about El Salvador’s president, Tony Saca.
If the United States has learned to be more hands-off in its relations with El Salvador, President Saca draws a very different lesson from history. In a May 7 speech, he offered an example for today’s armed forces to emulate in the “war on terror”: Col. Domingo Monterrosa, the commander who led the massacre at El Mozote. “Colonel Monterrosa,” Saca said without irony, “knew how to defend the nation, with nobility, in the saddest moment of the Republic.”
- Spain’s most-circulated newspaper, El PaÃs, ran a fascinating article on Sunday entitled “The FARC’s Narco-Sanctuary,” alleging that “certain Venezuelan authorities offer the FARC extensive and systematic cooperation with their narco-trafficking activities.” Deserters and other sources contend that combat between the FARC and ELN is happening “daily” within Venezuela, that 30% of the world’s cocaine now passes through Venezuela, and that the guerrillas have held hostage Ãngrid Betancourt in Venezuelan territory.
- I had missed this before, but recommend this October article in Guatemala’s La Prensa Libre. It discusses the situation of former Kaibiles – members of an elite Guatemalan Army unit with a terrible human-rights record – serving as contract employees in Iraq.
Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.