Friday links On the road
Jun 152008

Today’s edition of the Colombian newsweekly Semana reports that, here in Washington, extradited and convicted FARC leader Ricardo Palmera, “Simón Trinidad,” is being detained in the same part of the D.C. jail as many of the newly extradited paramilitary leaders.

According to SEMANA’s sources,’Trinidad’ identified himself to his new neighbors and they did the same. Since then, without ever seeing each others’ faces since they don’t leave their cells, they have communicated by shouting. Although very little is known about the content of their chats, it is known that “Trinidad,” as an expert in the ways of the prison, helps his arch-enemies with some basic jail survival advice: the lawyers’ visits, how to get books, what to do if they feel ill, issues of daily life.

Who would have thought: the voices that once gave orders to kill, kidnap, extort, massacre and submerged the department of Cesar and the country in a fratricidal war, today are only heard to instruct about how to care for one’s toilet paper, or how to protect oneself from the winter cold or ease the heat in summer.

Trinidad and former Northern Bloc leader Rodrigo Tovar, alias “Jorge 40,” are both from the small elite of the northeastern Colombian city of Valledupar, Cesar, where they knew each other in the years before they joined their separate armed groups. Now they are together again – but only briefly, as Trinidad will soon be moved to a prison in Colorado.

19 Responses to “Reunited in the D.C. jail”

  1. Camilla Says:

    The FARC and the paras are blood brothers. These thugs join their groups for similar reasons and ideology isn’t always part of it. In fact, in the paras’ case, I don’t think it’s any part of it – the ones I know are pure and simple in their animal way. Doesn’t surprise me at all that they are all instant pals in the hoosegow. The Supermax Way To Peace.

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    I wonder what educated people like Mrs O’grady can see in a little despicable ugly midget like Mr Uribe. Obviously this woman is infatuated with the drug dealer from Salgar, otherwise she would not cross the boundary between reality and fantasy.

  3. Anthony Says:

    http://www.eltiempo.com/conflicto/noticias/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-4237240.html

    Another interesting possibility that I did not really foresee after the demise of Marulanda.

  4. maremoto Says:

    Pardon me but this is important

    PUTTING A HOLD ON HOPE*
    By John I. Laun*
    Madison, June 16,08

    Barack Obama promises change. His campaign focuses on him as a real agent of change. Yet those of us who concentrate our attention on Latin America must have serious doubts about his commitment to real change after his remarks in Miami before the Cuban American National Foundation a few days ago.

    In his remarks, after embracing the son of Jorge Mas Canosa, strident opponent of the Castro government, he declared his support for the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Even many Cuban exiles in Florida want the embargo to end, since it has hurt the Cuban people and stifled contacts and commerce between the U.S. and Cuba, which could help reduce tensions and promote understanding between our countries.

    And with respect to Colombia, Mr. Obama expressed his support for the Colombian government pursuing “terrorists” across national borders, in effect approving Alvaro Uribe’s recent cross-border raid into Ecuador. Colombia’s invasion of Ecuador to attack a FARC guerrilla camp there was contrary to international law. Alvaro Uribe knew it was, which is why he told Ecuadorian President Correa that the Colombians were in “hot pursuit” of the FARC, which Uribe knew to be false. We are disappointed that Obama, who prides himself on having been a constitutional law professor, should be promoting a violation of international law. Latin American observers have criticized the Bush administration for seeking to use Alvaro Uribe’s actions as a wedge against the South American unity which several progressive leaders of Latin American governments have been pursuing. Mr. Obama’s apparently unquestioning support for President Uribe’s actions suggests his uncritical adoption of the Bush administration’s shortsighted policies toward Latin America.

    Mr Obama expresses his support for the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe. How is it that a President under whose watch millions of people have been internally displaced ( at present the number of displaced is more than 4 million, more that 9% of Colombia’s population) can be considered an effective President? To put it in terms a U.S. leader might recognize, if during 6 years of a U.S. President ‘s term in office there came to be 25 million U.S. citizens who had been forced out of their homes, would we consider that President to be a success? How can Mr. Obama support a President in Colombia who bought the votes for his own re-election by bribing members of Colombia’s Congress with public funds to vote in his favor? And what about the close ties of Alvaro Uribe and his political supporters, including his cousin Mario Uribe, to illegal paramilitaries and to corrupt military officers such as retired general Rito Alejo del Rio, who collaborated with paramilitaries in campaigns to “cleanse” (as Del Rio himself put it to a Colombia Support Network delegation several years ago) the region of union leaders, Patriotic Union elected officials, and others who worked for better conditions for peasants, indigenous communities and Afro-Colombians in the countryside?

    Former Vice President Al Gore was right to refuse to share a stage in Florida with President Uribe. If Mr. Obama wishes to avoid carrying out a third term of George W. Bush’s presidency with respect to Latin America, he needs to pay attention to the condition and the wishes of the great majority of the people there. He needs to respect the effort of coordination among Latin American administrations who are focusing on the poor and underprivileged, because those countries– not the militaristic Uribe regime– are laying the ground work for real stability.

    Those of us who refuse to concede that Obama’s presidency would be like a third term for George W. Bush as to Latin America have a lot of educating to do. We hope that Mr. Obama will seek the guidance of Members of Congress of his own party who have been to Colombia and who understand the issues there, such as Jan Schakowski of Illinois, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jim McGovern of Massachussetts.

    Mr. Obama needs to understand the reality of the situation in Colombia and follow a course that will support real democracy and human rights there, not the sham “democratic security” and human rights abuses of the Uribe Administration and its military and paramilitary allies.

    *President of the Colombia Support Network

    PLEASE BE GENEROUS! MAKE DONATIONS TO SUPPORT THE WORK WE DO

    http://colombiasupport.net/Donate/

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Uribe flips out at HRs book

    The Authoritarian Spell

  6. jcg Says:

    While I don’t support illegally violating another nation’s territory, even if it’s to attack FARC (ignoring that, for those who may care to be consistent, there have been countless smaller border incidents / unauthorized crossings in ***all directions*** involving Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela over the years and decades, it’s just that most don’t end up as big stories, but suddenly only Colombia gains bad boy status), I don’t think this is such a big deal in terms of internal U.S. politics (the U.S. isn’t exactly unexperienced in violating other nations borders, and not just through outright invasions and occupations), especially when reading stuff like the following:

    “Latin American observers have criticized the Bush administration for seeking to use Alvaro Uribe’s actions as a wedge against the South American unity which several progressive leaders of Latin American governments have been pursuing.”

    Now that’s a good one….not. Honestly, achieving “South American unity” has been much more complex and difficult than that, even among the “progressive leaders”, without having to magnify Uribe’s actions like that.

    “Mr Obama expresses his support for the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe. How is it that a President under whose watch millions of people have been internally displaced ( at present the number of displaced is more than 4 million, more that 9% of Colombia’s population) can be considered an effective President? ”

    Uirbe certainly hasn’t been effective in terms of stopping, preventing and undoing displacement. Full agreement up to there.

    But this bit and the following try to mislead by making it seem that those 4 million people were all (not just many, but all) displaced during Uribe’s administration, when in fact it’s an estimated total added up over 20 years, and it’s not exactly being consistenly updated in the other direction (ie; removing people who die, who leave the country or are just no longer IDPs. Even a CODHES document grudginly admits this exact issue, but few people seem to care or notice such details). In other words, it’s easier to add people to the list than it is to remove them. Even decades later. That hardly erases the government’s utter failure, but it’s not something that should be ignored either.

    “How can Mr. Obama support a President in Colombia who bought the votes for his own re-election by bribing members of Colombia’s Congress with public funds to vote in his favor?”

    Errr, that wasn’t exactly what happened. More than “public funds”, it seems to have been a matter of promising government or regional posts.

    “And what about the close ties of Alvaro Uribe and his political supporters, including his cousin Mario Uribe, to illegal paramilitaries and to corrupt military officers such as retired general Rito Alejo del Rio, who collaborated with paramilitaries in campaigns to “cleanse” (as Del Rio himself put it to a Colombia Support Network delegation several years ago) the region of union leaders, Patriotic Union elected officials, and others who worked for better conditions for peasants, indigenous communities and Afro-Colombians in the countryside?”

    Now this is actually another issue that, specific language aside, I certainly see as very relevant.

    “Former Vice President Al Gore was right to refuse to share a stage in Florida with President Uribe.”

    Though ironically enough, the Gore incident would have probably lapsed into obscurity if Uribe himself didn’t make a fuss about it first.

    “He needs to respect the effort of coordination among Latin American administrations who are focusing on the poor and underprivileged, because those countries– not the militaristic Uribe regime– are laying the ground work for real stability.”

    Where exactly has Obama sad that he won’t “respect” those efforts?

    Also, the Ecuador incident aside, it’s pretty subjective to speak of a “militaristic Uribe regime” in terms of regional politics or “stability”, and even that was mostly linked to the internal conflict in the first place. Not to some as of yet imaginary conspiracy against “unity and stability”.

  7. Will Says:

    JCG,

    “but suddenly only Colombia gains bad boy status)”

    Perhaps because over 20 people were killed in this “incident”?… and Uribe’s original statement on the issue was misleading to the say the least.

    “Now that’s a good one….not. Honestly, achieving “South American unity” has been much more complex and difficult than that, even among the “progressive leaders”, without having to magnify Uribe’s actions like that.”

    Laun states that the U.S. is “seeking” to do this. I don’t think this is an unfair characterization of U.S. actions/rhetoric. Colombia is repeatedly represented by the Bush administration as some type of democratic beacon in a sea of unpleasant “radical populists”, a country that we can not turn our back on (so lets sign them up for free trade!)…In regards to unity it definitely isn’t easy, but UNASUR, the Bank of the South, expansion of MERCOSUR, etc…there has been progress, not dramatic, but progress nonetheless…

    “Also, the Ecuador incident aside, it’s pretty subjective to speak of a “militaristic Uribe regime” in terms of regional politics or “stability”, and even that was mostly linked to the internal conflict in the first place. Not to some as of yet imaginary conspiracy against “unity and stability”.”

    I didn’t interpret this part as dealing with Latin American unity, only that Uribe is a militaristic president in terms of specific policies relative to other leaders in the region that are promoting various social democratic, populist measures within their countries.

    I am in agreement with pretty much the rest of your response, of course the idea behind the letter is to mobilize, anger and obtain financial support in a few paragraphs so nuances and context can lost.

    Best,

    Will

  8. Will Says:

    in a few paragraphs so nuances and context can get lost.

  9. jcg Says:

    Will:

    “Perhaps because over 20 people were killed in this “incident”?… and Uribe’s original statement on the issue was misleading to the say the least.”

    Valid points, both of them -though, for the sake of accuracy, most of those over 20 individuals were apparently guerrillas, with about five or six exceptions that are nevertheless enough (or too many, if you want to speak about this morally, and I’d agree as far as that field is concerned).

    But the mere act of violating a nation’s borders is what I was referring to, and in terms of international law that is still a violation, even when nobody -or just far less people- dies. Something that nobody has done, and I really think someone should in order to provide context, is compile a list of many such incidents, using sources from the foreign press if necessary. I’m too busy or, if not, lazy.

    “Laun states that the U.S. is “seeking” to do this. I don’t think this is an unfair characterization of U.S. actions/rhetoric. Colombia is repeatedly represented by the Bush administration as some type of democratic beacon in a sea of unpleasant “radical populists”, a country that we can not turn our back on (so lets sign them up for free trade!)…In regards to unity it definitely isn’t easy, but UNASUR, the Bank of the South, expansion of MERCOSUR, etc…there has been progress, not dramatic, but progress nonetheless…”

    I still think it’s a bit unfair. You really think that kind of rhetoric is making anyone lose stability or preventing unity (even an “everyone except Colombia” unity)? Or more than any other examples that have nothing to do with Bush or Uribe -like, say, when Chavez doesn’t only use his tongue against his main target, the U.S., but rather makes declarations that involve other countries-? So in terms of rhetoric that may be the case, but otherwise…

    Btw, that is certainly progress, but it looks nicer when you don’t look at all the other problems surrounding it (kinda the same thing one could say about Uribe’s own administration), including those that have nothing to do with, again, Uribe or Bush . They are both fleeting individuals, even in the worst case scenario. Part of me wishes they both be gone, as soon as humanly possible, just so they can stop being used as excuses for conspiracy fodder.

    “I didn’t interpret this part as dealing with Latin American unity, only that Uribe is a militaristic president in terms of specific policies relative to other leaders in the region that are promoting various social democratic, populist measures within their countries.”

    While I think Colombia needs a lot more social democracy (though populism is another matter), it’s hard not to be “militaristic” when you’re in the middle of a war and a negotiation isn’t on the table right now -though I think it should, as explained elsewhere.

    Even after Uribe disappears from the scene, as will happen sooner or later, a certain amount of militarism in specific policies may be an inevitable necessity of war to pressure and weaken the guerillas. At least while it lasts and if no serious talks or peace feelers are in progress, as I understand that militarism shouldn’t be everything by any means, and even that doesn’t excuse Uribe’s other policies and problems.

    “I am in agreement with pretty much the rest of your response, of course the idea behind the letter is to mobilize, anger and obtain financial support in a few paragraphs so nuances and context can lost. ”

    Quite so, I’d say.

    I think some of their more moral intentions, at least from what I can tell, are good, but I really can’t agree with everything they say.

  10. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Two youngsters were gunned down in the premises of the Andino Mall in Bogota. One of them was son of Coronel Vaca, who bereft paras in Cordoba of stolen land. The gruesome fact happened a couple of days ago; however, not a single word from MSM Colombia.

  11. Jaime Bustos Says:

    According to UNHCR, acknowledges around 3 million displaced people in Colombia. According to the same source it’s the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world followed by Iraq, a country in war.

  12. jcg Says:

    Jaime Bustos:

    1. It does not seem to be in non-mainstream sources either, or at least not in too many, after doing a quick but reasonable search upon your mentioning this. Mind pointing to an specific site, source or providing more information? Even Google doesn’t really help, at least not without knowing the first name of the Colonel or something more. Just pointing to an incident that has not been widely reported, in general, is not exactly saying much.

    2. And Colombia hasn’t been at war -internally but that is still war- for more than 20 years? Never argued otherwise. UNCHR’s estimate still looks like some sort of “middle ground” between the government’s and CODHES’s, but I do not believe it tries to -or even could- take into account what I pointed out earlier.

  13. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jcg, I confirmed with two different sources the crime committed this weekend at the Andino mall in Bogotá this weekend, and even have more details I’d rather keep to myself.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    I repeat, it’s quite strange Colombian media not reporting about the incident. Obviously economic or political interests, come to mind.

  14. Chris Says:

    http://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/2008-06-16/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-4296664.html

  15. jcg Says:

    Jaime: Since you’re blasting mainstream sources for it, from the beginning, I expected that meant, as an alternative, that it would be in some sort of publicly available ***non-mainstream*** source, not part of some private information.

    That is why my quick search was of public, non-mainstream sources, like some human rights groups and even teleSur

    I’m not saying it didn’t happen, for the record. Just that I cannot find it and would have liked to know more from a public source.

  16. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jcg, I was not trying to blast anyone, but mind you, I have no doubt of Colombian msm complicity for the mafia dictatorship they are helping installed.

    Going back to the assassinations, I was informed by word of mouth, I am not a journalist, just happen to have good connections.

  17. Block Says:

    Maremoto-

    I read what seemed to be a very thorough analysis of that speech of Obama’s in Miami on the following website:

    http://www.narconews.com/Issue53/article3110.html

    I’m not sure how this website is regarded among the internet community, and it certainly has a leftist bias, but this particular analysis seemed fairly objective, providing both positive and negative lenses through which to view it. They also make an interesting comment about Uribe’s words against Obama (regarding Obama’s criticisms of the Trade Agreement based on the horrible human rights ecords in Colombia), indicating that Uribe would not be very happy about an Obama presidency. As an anti-Bush American, I see only hope in such outbursts. That article is on the same website here:

    http://narconews.com/Issue52/article3055.html

    Both articles available in Spanish.

  18. Paul Says:

    Block,

    There’s absolutely nothing objective about the Narconews. You might as well be reading Voz.

  19. Paul Says:

    Jaime Bustos,

    “I wonder what educated people like Mrs O’grady can see in a little despicable ugly midget like Mr Uribe. ”

    Probably the same qualities that 80% of the Colombian people see in him. By definition, you are the fringe, not O’Grady.

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