The specious “national security” argument Friday links
Mar 202008

A top advisor to President Uribe apparently thinks victims’ advocate Iván Cepeda is a FARC guerrilla.

With Colombia’s human-rights community reeling from a sudden increase in killings and threats, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield deserves praise for paying a visit to a threatened human rights organization.

On Tuesday, Brownfield was at the offices of MINGA, one of Colombia’s most effective and energetic human rights groups, some of whose staff were mentioned by name in threats sent last week by a group calling itself “Black Eagles – the Rearmament.”

MINGA’s press release about the ambassadorial visit is translated below.

But first, we must condemn – in the strongest terms possible on a G-rated blog – the latest disgusting comments by José Obdulio Gaviria, one of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s most senior advisors.

Gaviria had said in February that protests in support of victims of paramilitary and government violence, which were scheduled for March 6, were “convened by the FARC.” Iván Cepeda, a leader of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes and one of the March 6 events’ organizers, accuses the presidential advisor of creating a climate that has left organizers vulnerable to violent retribution after being falsely tied to guerrillas.

In a column in one of Colombia’s main newspapers and in a “citizens’ petition” sent to the presidential palace, Cepeda called on President Uribe to dismiss Gaviria.

This, incredibly, is how the presidential advisor responded yesterday, in the Colombian newspaper El Periódico.

“Every kind of request issued by the FARC is always studied by the government, and that is exactly what is being done with this citizens’ petition.”

What an embarrassment for the Colombian government: a high official repeatedly emits slander that puts a citizen’s life in danger, and the president himself does nothing about it.

If José Obdulio Gaviria is unable to distinguish between a prominent non-violent human-rights activist and a guerrilla, he has no business being in a position of responsibility for how his country is governed.

Here is MINGA’s release.



With the purpose of learning about the human rights situation in several regions of Colombia, the United States’ Ambassador, Mr. William R. Brownfield, visited the offices of the MINGA Association, a human-rights defenders’ organization that accompanies vulnerable communities in several regions of the country.

During the ambassador’s visit, different facts affecting human rights and the constitutionality of the state were presented, among them: the critical human rights situation affecting indigenous and campesino communities in Putumayo department, where the armed conflict has increased; forced displacement; extrajudicial executions; arbitrary detentions; the food-security crisis provoked by the aerial spraying of glyphosate; the indigenous communities of northern Cauca who find themselves in the crossfire between the security forces and the guerrillas; the increase in extrajudicial executions in the Catatumbo region; the degradation of the conflict, the blockades of foodstuffs, abuses and aggression that indigenous and afro-Colombian communities confront in Nariño and the southern Pacific coast (Buenaventura and Tumaco).

Also under discussion was the issue of political guarantees that the national government must offer the human rights and social movements for the free exercise of their labors, which are recognized in the national and international contexts, and the negative impact that Plan Colombia has had, and has, on the social fabric of the rural communities where it has been implemented.

MINGA Association for Alternative Social Promotion

Bogotá, March 18, 2008

15 Responses to “Praise for Amb. Brownfield, jeers for “José Obdulio””

  1. jcg Says:

    What more can be said about Mr. Gaviria, indeed, without sounding either repetitive or insulting?

    Pretty much the same goes for Uribe’s silence, I think.

    That something may be re-published on a FARC or pro-FARC website, as may have happened with the citizens’ petition though I won’t check it out right now because that’s not the main point, doesn’t justify this kind of dangerous language and irresponsible accusations.

    The actual individuals and organizations are important, as well as the content of their texts and the specifics of their positions, including the rest of their behavior and past actions.

    Taking all that into consideration, Gaviria surely knows that the MOVICE is not FARC (they may be anti-government and even anti-state in certain respects but that’s definitely *not* the same thing as being part of FARC or even one of their supporters). In any and all cases, he has no right to treat them as if they were all equivalent to the guerrillas, with all the dangers such words may increase or summon.

    So this is indeed quite repetitive, but I understand that as long as Gaviria continues making such statements and being paid by Uribe (I may have heard somewhere that he’s not actually a state employee, not directly at least, though I may be wrong)…someone has to come out and reject it.

    A pity it’s not going to be the President, of all people…

    As for the Ambassador, his visit to MINGA is a good sign, even if I imagine he may disagree with them on certain subjects…and at least I’ve never heard him speaking so much trash, frankly, as Mr. Gaviria sometimes does.

  2. Camilla Says:

    How do you know the March 6 protests were not convened by FARC symps? One of the most important lessons learned from the capture of Raul’s computer is that many people who claim they are neutrals in the Colombian conflict were never that. I’m not making an argument one way or another about this group, but I am certainly not going to dismiss it as a possibility as I might have done in the past. I think what’s important is watching what they do and how it fits in with the strategic goals of FARC. Too many coincidences and my antennae go up. FARC would not survive as a Marxist terror organization without a certain number of Useful Idiots and enablers on the outside, particularly among the self-important intelligentsia. Remember: a revolutionary swims like a fish in the sea.

  3. Camilla Says:

    Here’s a typical Minga client, all peace and love, a man of ’social and peaceful processes.’ But somehow he got caught making bombs for the FARC.

    Gee the government must make everything up. /s

  4. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Congrats, jfc, that’s what I call atttitude ;)

    As for other comments, when your antennae go up you are sure to be one of the roaches.

  5. Camilla Says:

    That’s not an argument, Jaime.

  6. LFM Says:

    If Jose Obdulio has any shred of evidence he should just take them to court instead of using innuendo. At least when his cousin wanted a bloodbath, he would carry it out himself and not hide behind a UN-paid desk…

  7. Randy Paul Says:

    What LFM said.

    How do you know the March 6 protests were not convened by FARC symps?

    Logi 101. You are asking for us to prove a negative. That’s a logical fallacy. In the adult world, when someone makes a claim it is their responsibility to prove it.

  8. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Randy Paul. Brilliant point ! :)

    Well what can you expect from a desperate shill, he must also bring bread home.

  9. Camilla Says:

    The weight of the evidence points to the reality that they are. You can’t just ignore the signs of it and like a high-collar old maid of delicate sensibilities, assume nothing bad is going on, Randy Paul. You are like one of those old Mississippi plantation ladies who is permanently ignoring the evidence of her own eyes and dismissing all logic or where facts go in favor of some mythical a perfect world of manners and mores out there somewhere that transcends all reality. This isn’t a parlor game or even a legal case in the states, this is a country at war. Why is it the left is so eager to associate its aims with FARC yet always claims it has no association with FARC. If I knew someone who was out defending that treasonous Telesur jouralist, I think I would start using my mind as to what this is leading to instead of sniffing up my nose and insisting all is well regardless of what is going on around me.

  10. Kyle Says:

    Camilla, Randy Paul is dead on; basic logical and philosophical tenet. To add to what he said, asking someone to disprove (or to demonstrate the negative) implies that you have proven something (or demonstrated the positive), and you have yet to do so.

  11. Kyle Says:

    Here’s another question that maybe Camilla can answer for me: If the FARC are a horrible organization of narco-terrorists who look only to terrorize and kill and traffic drugs, how come you give them such credit when it comes to their political ideology?

    Also I’ll repeat my other question from months back:
    If the FARC are the biggest and worst terrorists in Colombia, then how has Uribe succeeded in anything?

    Also, what does the Telesur journalist (was his name Franky Padilla or something) have to do with anything? His case is separate and to try to bring him here is disingenuous: there’s strong evidence he was a FARC guerrilla at some point, or associated with them strongly (the photo); you have no evidence that this march was convened by the FARC.

  12. Sergio Méndez Says:


    The 6 M mobilization was convoqued by a PUBLIC and LEGAL organization (organization for the victms of state crimes). If you have evidence linking this organization to the FARC, show it. If noy, please, shut up. On the other side, if you think this organization “sympathize” withe the FARC, plese give us any evidence. But by aware that we will use your standards against the 4 of febrary march organizers. You know, for the pro paramilitary attitude of many of them, including the simpatizers of that march (like Uribe goverment and his parapolitical friends

  13. Boli-Nica Says:

    Here’s another question that maybe Camilla can answer for me: If the FARC are a horrible organization of narco-terrorists who look only to terrorize and kill and traffic drugs, how come you give them such credit when it comes to their political ideology?

    as leninists they can excuse lying, crime, and thuggery so long as its in service of the revolution.
    As Marxist-Leninists they espouse an anti-democratic totalitarian doctrine responsible for some of the worst crimes of the 20th Century, Crimes justified by the perpetrators using some of the most cynical manipulation of language ever.

  14. Randy Paul Says:

    You can’t just ignore the signs of it and like a high-collar old maid of delicate sensibilities, assume nothing bad is going on, Randy Paul.


    I have never made the case that the FARC are honest actors. However, you provided no proof that the March 6 protests were convened “by FARC symps.”

    Allow me to explain the logical fallacy in the argument that you are making. Suppose I make the claim that you eat human babies, then you deny it and I write “Prove to me that you don’t eat human babies and that you have never eaten human babies?”

    Sorry, it doesn’t fly in my example or in yours. You can stamp the floor, call me names and draw your asinine comparisons all you wish, but it doesn’t change the basic logic that it is incumbent upon the party making the claim to prove the claim, not for those who disagree to disprove the claim.

  15. Boli-Nica Says:

    Also I’ll repeat my other question from months back:
    If the FARC are the biggest and worst terrorists in Colombia, then how has Uribe succeeded in anything?

    You seem to be avoiding a lot of facts there Kyle.
    The FARC still controls and operates over large parts of the territory, and contests others. It was barely a decade ago that political scientists called Colombia a “besieged democracy” and even a :failed state”, because the Colombian state exercised no control over roughly half of its territory At that point – and through the “despeje” period- the FARC was in full expansion: increasing drug and criminal revenue, arming thousands more, and operating in battallion sized units.

    The FARC have been weakened the last years, partly becauase the FARC overextended itself, and mainly because the Colombian Army with US aid has beat them up in the hills, killed many experienced cadres, and forced them to retreat from some areas, and then implanted state control in these areas. That is why the Colombian state now has more municipalities under its control than it did 10 years ago.

    But the FARC still have thousands of men under arms, in certain areas they know well, and they still have a directorate whose major motivation is to overthrow the Colombian State and make revolution.

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