February 4th and March 6th The Carimagua scandal
Feb 152008

Here are the slides from a presentation I gave this afternoon for some visiting high-school students participating in Georgetown University’s Model UN program. This was sort of the basic talk – “this is the FARC, these are the paramilitaries, this is what a coca plant looks like.”

Thanks to slideshare.net, you can view these slides without having to listen to me yammering away alongside them. (The odd-looking picture on page 6 is actually the first frame of a brief video, which unfortunately doesn’t work in this format.)

15 Responses to “A slideshow without the talk”

  1. Camilla Says:

    Missing slides:

    1. President Uribe enjoys an 80% popularity rating, which has held consistently in that range. Colombians must be just dumb to think such a thing.

    2. President Uribe has made Colombia’s roads and main cities safe after 40 years of hell. Colombians must be dumb to think that a good thing. Isn’t crime and a gummed up legal system full of leftwing lawyers ‘freer’?

    3. President Uribe was elected democratically both times and won by a wide margin. Any insights on why that happened? Sure: Colombian voters must be sheep.

    4. FARC uses landmines, child soldiers, propane gas bombs, impressment of the unwilling, horse bombs, necklace bombs, kidnapping, forced abortions, hostage torture, 24-chain-bondage for hostages, and remains sponsored by the government of communist Cuba, which continues to provide the finest in guerrilla medical care, Havana office space and rest and recreation opportunities, as does the peace-loving government of Venezuela.

    But love the use of strictly unflattering photos of President Uribe. That must have took thought to assemble. /s

  2. Adam Isacson Says:

    OK, next time somebody asks me to do a presentation on “why President Uribe is favored by people with telephones in Colombia’s 4 largest cities,” I’ll totally follow your suggestions.

    This much broader presentation actually gives full credit to Uribe – but not to U.S. aid – for the past few years’ security improvements. (Why not U.S. aid? See this blog’s response to last fall’s CSIS report or my article in the current Foreign Affairs en Espanol for a quick rundown of that argument.)

    http://www.fae.itam.mx/ultimonumero.html (not online unfortunately)

    It also makes clear that the FARC are responsible for a majority of kidnappings and a significant share of civilian killings.

    But it also argues that Uribe’s policies are unlikely to provide a way out of Colombia’s crisis, because they don’t address twin ills of state weakness and impunity. He is doing more than his predecessors to improve governance, but his strategy is heavily militarized, heavily personalistic and doesn’t do enough to punish abuses when they occur.

    And come on, isn’t the picture of Bush in the truck flattering? I mean, you didn’t expect Bush to let him actually take the wheel, did you?

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Adam, thanks for the good laugh! Be careful not to overreact to the bromidic script used by Colombian disinformation agents in your blog, and elsewhere, though. ;)

  4. Camilla Says:

    OK, I can live with that distinction between Uribe and aid, Adam. If I had a choice in things, i would not want aid at all, the USG tends to f everything up worse than if they had never been there at all. I’d rather we just wrote Uribe a check and let him do with it what he thinks is necessary – my personal view. But I see the program we got as better than some of the proposals – after all, it does show results.

    You are right, I forgot the cute picture of Uribe in the truck. Bush, I don’t care what he looks like one way or another, but the Uribe truck shot was cute and I know it upset Chavez. Being a regular reader of FARC sites, I know they love the ones with him in dark glasses with his mouth open. The truck pic was not bad. What I was wondering about when I first saw that was whether Uribe noticed Bush was afraid of horses as Vicente Fox classlessly averred. No such claims can be made about Uribe, who knows his way around a horse and rides exquisitely, like a jockey.

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    For those Disappeared, Displaced, Massacred, & Executed.

    In Colombia nearly 4 million persons have been displaced, most by illegal paramilitaries.

    These vigilante groups, often collaborating with Colombia’s military, have “disappeared” more than 15,000 persons and buried them in mass graves or thrown their bodies into rivers.

    They have murdered more than 1,700 indigenous peoples, 2,500 union members and nearly 5,000 members of the Union Patriotica movement, besides forcing tens of thousands of Afro-Colombians and peasants from their lands. Routinely victims are tortured before being killed.

    Between 1982 and 2005 paramilitaries carried out more than 3,500 massacres and stole more than 12 million acres of land. Since 2002, after their supposed “demobilization”, Colombians are still dying.

    Paramilitaries have murdered more than 600 persons per year, and gained control of 35% of Congressional posts. Members of the Colombian army, which receives millions of dollars from the US Government, have since 2002 committed more than 950 execution-style murderers, often camouflaging their victims as guerrillas. Many paramilitary groups have not disbanded, calling themselves “Black Eagles.”

    On March 6, join us to accompany the victims of the Paramilitaries, the

    Parapoliticians and Agents of the state!

    No more Common Graves. No more Forced Displacement. No more
    Paramilitaries. No more Parapoliticians. No more crimes by the State.
    No more US military aid to Colombia.
    March 6, 2008 • Come Join our Vigil
    Colombia Support Network • http://www.colombiasupport.net
    Social and Human Rights Organizations of Colombia Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE)

  6. Eric Fuentes Says:

    You’re right Camilla, before the USG ramped up Plan Colombia programs things were going great in Colombia. Let’s see, the FARC was strengthening itself in the despeje zone, there was negative economic growth and indicators for murders, kidnapping and the like were all on the rise. We all should be thankful that the USG wasn’t in Colombia to “f everything up” as you so eloquently put it. Or did you just cave into to Adam that easily?

    And Adam, while you strike me as being more realistic in your criticisms of U.S. assistance to Colombia, I don’t understand how you fail to characterize the improving security situation in Colombia today as anything but a major USG security assistance success. You just seem to miss too many facts that don’t fit into your well crafted anti-security assistance thesis (see a big one below). And while the Peace and Justice program hasn’t been perfect – your comments on impunity are duly noted – it is bringing to light atrocities and it’s picking up steam as political will builds in the Colombian govt. to go after offenders. It will only get better.

    I glanced through your response to the CSIS report. While USG security assistance to Colombia is tiny compared to actual Colombian investment in that area, the USG has brought crucial technology to the table that has helped make the difference. You can buy helicopters, for example, but it’s not easy to buy the maintenance infrastructure required to keep them in the air. It’s tough to reject the claim that aviation support to Colombia has enabled the Colombian govt to project power and give them the strategic advantage they’ve always lacked – and has been the engine for the security gains Colombia is reaping today.

  7. Nelson Says:

    I wish I could listen to the talk someday. I hope you can upload one to youtube or something.

  8. jcg Says:

    I think it’s fairly comprehensive as a slideshow, even though it’s still a bit hard to imagine what the rest of the presentation was like. In any case, thanks for posting it.

    Camilla: Other details aside, I agree that one of the problems is precisely what Adam pointed out before: current U.S. aid is hardly playing the most important (not to mention the most actively useful) role here, and even then Uribe’s own policies have flaws (such as their excessive militarization) which should be addressed, if not by him then by someone else.

    Jaime Bustos: Since there is another post about the mobilization, and that’s just one way to convoke it (hardly a perfect one, in any case, but nitpicking that’s besides the point)…

  9. Camilla Says:

    JCG: But do you argue that high military aid didn’t make Colombia’s cities and highways safe? Surely you can admit that much. Remember: Colombia tried appeasement. They gave FARC a Switzerland sized area of their own in the name of ‘peace’ and all they got out of the FARC was a bigger FARC, one that circled its capital and nearly toppled the government. Appeasement absolutely don’t create a nicer and more reasonable FARC. In that circumstance, the only solution I can see is military action, which probably means aid is inevitable – particularly with credible and growing reports of Hugo Chavez aiding the other side. What is your better solution?

  10. jcg Says:

    Camilla: As a matter of fact I do, more or less along the lines that have been posted earlier on this blog.

    The “high military aid” from the U.S., when it hasn’t made things worse (see the militarized fumigation campaign’s lack of effectiveness and related issues) hasn’t exactly been the main force behind those improvements (though I’m not saying it doesn’t have *any* impact at all either, just not the biggest or anything), and the military strategy as a whole (which Colombia itself finances, for the overwhelmingly larger part at least) could use a significant revision, in order to present a more comprehensive set of solutions. The usual stuff, in other words.

    Also, I’m not saying that it’s all a matter of blind “appeasement” and nothing else at all…but I do think, for one thing, that the government improvises too much and doesn’t even have a flexible negotiation strategy to go along with the military pressure.

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    This is interesting, but unsurprising: it’s really all about business, isn’t it?

  12. Kyle Says:

    I don’t feel like commenting on everything else that has been said…I kind of got tired of the same stuff a few weeks back, hence my lack of posts. Camilla says something ridiculous; Jaime says nothing; jcg says something that I can think about, agree/disagree with and is fair and interesting; then Camilla says something incredibly biased and ridiculous, and repeat…
    But Randy Paul, I did read that story and thought about dropping it here on the comments section. To me, it seems like a simple deal. Aguilas Negras are “new” and “up-coming” in that they have just formed, even from old organizations, and are still trying to recover from a couple years of inaction. The FARC are still not the strongest they have ever been in the Sur de Bolivar. So what to do? Make a deal; unite against the common enemy, mainly the public forces, though civil society is a target as well.
    In fact, I’m surprised this has not happened with the ELN and FARC. But then again, the ELN are still very weak (though one could are the Aguilas are too) and the areas they operate (ELN and FARC) are very important economically, like Sur de Bolivar, so it is strange in that way. Then again, maybe the war between FARC and ELN is about something larger than just retribution…

  13. Fidelius Says:

    I’ll like to know the sources of the military equipment for the armed groups. What amount of Plan Colombia’s aid is invested in US arms? Who’s providing weapons for the paramilitars and the guerrilla?

  14. Camilla Says:

    Wow, first time i’ve ever been scolded for being too soft! Eric Fuentes, I cave in to nothing, I am just trying to listen and understand more than one side.

  15. Chris Says:


    Blackmarket…many weapons smuggled in from past conflicts in central america….weapons coming across the border from Venezuela, Brazil, Panama…weapons being smuggled from the U.S. as well. The illegals are acquiring their weapons through every venue possible.

    When I was there we picked-up a U.S. military issued M-16 from a para that was killed in the early morning hours. Couldn’t tell you how he ultimately got it, but nonethless he had it.

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