Fallout from Marulanda’s demise AIN: the Bolivian armed forces’ growing mission
May 302008

  • The U.S. government has requested the extradition of about fifty leaders of the FARC – but apparently the guerrilla group’s new leader, Alfonso Cano, isn’t on the list.
  • Speaking of extradition, much praise goes to Human Rights Watch for leading the drive to press officials to allow Colombian prosecutors and investigators to access the extradited paramilitary leaders in U.S. jails. Last week the group appealed to Attorney-General Michael Mukasey and congressional leaders to take steps that would allow Colombian and U.S. prosecutors to hold the warlords accountable for their human rights crimes, not just their drug offenses.

In 2005, when it appeared that the very lenient “Justice and Peace” law would do little to dismantle paramilitary groups or help victims, HRW was a vocal proponent of extradition as a tool to get the paramilitaries to cooperate. That HRW opposed extradition now creates a seeming contradiction, which inspired attacks from the Colombian presidency and the Washington Post editorial page.

But there is no contradiction: HRW and most Colombian human-rights groups decided to give Colombia’s “Justice and Peace” process a chance back in 2006, after the country’s Constitutional Court toughened the Justice and Peace law significantly. Though the process was not going well, had it failed so completely that the extraditions were the only option? Were the extraditions a premature step inspired by concerns about what the paramilitary leaders might reveal? The only acceptable answer to that last question is a resounding “no” – but it will only be true if Colombian prosecutors and investigators get the access they require.

  • Speaking of the paramilitary leaders, perhaps the most remarkable story of the week is how the Colombian prison system mysteriously lost track of several of the paramilitary leaders’ laptop computers and cell phones on the day they were extradited. Now how will we ever learn about the paramilitaries’ ties to Venezuela?
  • In today’s El Tiempo, one of the best and most sobering analyses of Colombia’s conflict after Manuel Marulanda’s death comes from Rudolf Hommes, the finance minister in César Gaviria’s government, who generally supports the Uribe government’s security policies. Even if it turns out that Alfonso Cano is interested in peace negotiations, Hommes writes, “He cannot make a peace effort until he has consolidated his leadership, and it is possible that to consolidate it he will intensify the level of terrorist activity.”
  • Though Marulanda’s death lowered its media profile, many congratulations are due to Pedro Arenas, mayor of San José del Guaviare, and the numerous organizations who successfully carried out the peaceful “White Caravanmarch to El Retorno, Guaviare to press for the freedom of the FARC’s hostages.
  • The U.S. group Witness for Peace is organizing an ambitious delegation to Putumayo, Colombia on August 3-13, and has space for several participants. Read their delegation flyer here [PDF].
  • The House and Senate have both passed versions of the 2008 supplemental appropriations bill, which includes several hundred million dollars for Mexico and Central America. Both versions of the bill include human-rights conditions on the aid, similar to the conditions that have applied to Colombia aid for years. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) explained the rationale behind the conditions last week. But Mexican officials are now hinting that they might refuse the aid if it comes with human-rights conditions.

19 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. Paul Says:

    Nice to see Witness For Peace are still organizing trips to behold the wonders of communism.

  2. Randy Paul Says:

    Nice to see red-baiting still taking place fifty years after McCarthy’s liver gave out.

  3. Paul Says:

    Nice to see “red baiting” still hasn’t lost its cache as a tool for silencing. Witness for Peace extols the virtues of Castro’s island prison, the Sandinistas, sponsors communists on speaking tours, and lies about virtually anything the United States does abroad.

  4. Randy Paul Says:

    Paul you wrote:

    Nice to see Witness For Peace are still organizing trips to behold the wonders of communism.

    What in that flyer was an effort to “behold the wonders of communism?”

  5. Camilla Says:

    I went to a big hippie festival this past Earth Day. There, Witness for Peace was in roost, touting the virtues of Che, Cuba, the Sandinistas and the FMLN at its booth – all posters, tshirts and memorabilia. A leftist who visited them talked up the virtues of FARC and how they were merely misunderstood. If these radicals and the people who gravitate to them weren’t selling communism, I don’t know what they were selling. Maybe they were decorating and picked some unfortunate items that in no way reflect their values. But I kind of doubt it.

  6. GringoAfuera Says:

    I just have to say, while I do not fully agree with Witness for Peace on every idea with Colombia, but I can say with 100% confidence that their staff, at least in Colombia, are not communists. Nor do they like the FARC. They are not selling communism at all. They do not behold the wonders of communism either. They are very critical of US and Colombian policy, but also of the guerrillas as well. They do not lie about virtually anything the US does abroad, they do not extol communists on speaking tours (even if some speakers have Marxist leanings). How do I know this? Despite not fully agreeing with the group’s ideas, I have traveled with them twice and know the Colombia staff on a personal level. I can assure you all, even though I don’t always agree with them, they are definitely not what you all are labeling them.

  7. Jaime Bustos Says:

    That explains it all, Mr. Milla is an astray hippie that keeps high on acid all the time. :mrgreen:

  8. Randy Paul Says:

    Again, I ask: “What in that flyer was an effort to ‘behold the wonders of communism?’”

  9. Jose David Says:

    it woundn’t surprise me if some media lapdog at some military brigade pulled a miraculous flyer “beholding the wonders of communism” from a guerrilla computer.

  10. Randy Paul Says:

    While losing a file extolling the virtues of fascism from a paramilitary computer.

  11. maremoto Says:

    must suck having these weird people posting here all the time

  12. Camilla Says:

    Typical Witness For Peace whopper:

    And today, eight years after Plan Colombia began, all sides continue to commit human rights abuses with near total impunity.

    That’s right, even though the Colombian army has an 84% approval rating, matching President Uribe’s, and FARC’s head-chopping, hostage-castrating, child-kidnapping, child-hanging, horse-bombing, extortion-loving, drug-dealing, landmining, necklace-bombing, hostage-holding Marxist Army Of The People have a 1% public approval rating, take it from that credible source of all human virtue Witness for Peace: the atrocities are EQUAL! And they despite the improving security situation in Colombia’s cities, they are ALL done with near-total impunity!

  13. Camilla Says:

    Here’s the latest from the man who is absolutely indispensible to the hostage mediation effort, our prized ‘interlocutor’:


  14. Randy Paul Says:

    So Camilla,

    What’s an acceptable level of atrocities for you? Mine is zero from all sides.

  15. Camilla Says:

    The acceptable level is none, Randy Paul. That’s my position, that’s the Colombian army’s position.

    What it’s not is the FARC’s and the other illegal armed groups’ positions. There is no equivalance. One operates under the rule of law. The other gets bigger and better rewards the worse his or her cruelty. Just go ask Karina how she rose so high in the Marxist FARC ranks. Ask her about her hostage castrations and how that helped her career.

    By contrast, whenever a Colombian soldier gets accused of human rights violations, there is no impunity and there is no reward. Instead, the matter gets investigated and prosecuted. If there is a conviction, the perpetrator get a long prison sentence.

    But name one FARC killer who was ever brought to justice by his own people. It doesn’t happen. Children are kidnapped at an early age, bred for cruelty to be child soldiers, and the more they kill, the higher they rise in the FARC ranks. The Karina effect.

    Here’s the whole deal: Human-rights violating soldier = off to jail = no impunity. FARC human rights violator = career promotion = full impunity because his Marxism justifies anything.

  16. Randy Paul Says:

    So Camilla,

    100% of human rights abusing soldiers have been convicted and jailed?

  17. Randy Paul Says:

    Let me elaborate, Camilla. I don’t believe that anyone believes that there is equivalency here. However, there is the issue of expectations: we expect the FARC to be bad actors. They have no authority from anyone other than themselves to act. The government of Colombia as represented by the military and the police have authority to act. We expect them to act responsibly. When they don’t, they should be punished and I don’t accept your notion that there is “no impunity” for Colombian soldiers.

    I also don’t accept the notion that there is “full impunity” for the FARC, simply because we don’t expect them to punish their members. They have no authority to do so in any event. If you believe that there is full impunity for the FARC, please explain why Simon Trinidad is in jail.

  18. Camilla Says:

    Randy: FARC didn’t turn Trinidad in. The Colombian army, that impunity-ridden organization, did him in. I don’t agree with you that the Colombian army is ridden with impunity. How do you explain its sky-high popularity numbers among Colombians? They are around 78% last Gallup poll I looked at. If they are as bad as you say, why do Colombians have such a high opinion of them? Are you saying Colombians just love war criminals? Are you saying they are masochists?

    By the way, FARC has a 1% public approval rating. They earned that. Do you have any idea how? Maybe unpunished, unapologized-for crimes have something to do with it.

    You’re far more likely to see a bad Colombian soldier – and there aren’t many – punished for doing something wrong than you are to see FARC admit any wrongdoing, no matter how atrocious the atrocities. Surely you know this.

  19. Camilla Says:

    Some hard facts about Colombia and FARC, with an on-the-ground report:


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