- All those international diplomats who worked to facilitate a humanitarian exchange or a peace agreement in Colombia? “Generally speaking, they had always been a nuisance,” President Uribe’s ever-quotable top advisor, JosÃ© Obdulio Gaviria, told the Associated Press. (The Colombian government has once again “de-authorized” the role of outside mediators.)
- In what looks like a novel use of Microsoft Word’s “mail merge” feature, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield has authored a cookie-cutter pro-FTA op-ed apparently tailored to every state in the union. Compare the versions for Alabama, Indiana and Minnesota.
- By a 414-10 vote, the House of Representatives passed a resolution praising “intelligence and other cooperation by the United States” to Colombia.
- The U.S. Navy’s 4th Fleet, a new component of Southern Command responsible for operations in the Western Hemisphere, was officially reestablished on July 12th. Curiously, the press release notes that “Fourth Fleetâ€™s reestablishment will not involve an increase in forces assigned in Mayport, or result in any permanently assigned ships or aircraft.”
- Nicaragua’s La Prensa newspaper seems to think that a delegation from the FARC Secretariat, possibly including Alfonso Cano himself, will actually be in Managua tomorrow to help Daniel Ortega celebrate the 29th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. (Don’t count on it.)
- El Tiempo ran an interesting description of how coca-growers in Cumaribo, Vichada save their plants after the U.S.-funded fumigation planes spray them.
After the aircraft discharge their glyphosate over the coca plantations, the growers act within a few minutes to save their plants from the chemical.
In Cumaribo, the coca-leaf producers use the word “soquear” [probably from "soak"] to describe the tricks they use to save the plants that are fumigated.
The campesinos’ trickery has shown them that once the planes spray the plantation, there are less than 18 hours in which to avoid having the chemical reach the root and kill the plant.
That is why they choose to cut the leaves and stem at about 10 centimeters [4 inches] above ground level. Later, they apply molasses and large quantities of fertilizer to the stump to stimulate and strengthen regrowth.
- Bloomberg’s Joshua Goodman reports in depth on the Brazil-Colombia defense accord likely to be signed when Lula travels to Colombia this weekend. Lula, Ãlvaro Uribe and Peru’s Alan GarcÃa will meet in Leticia, Colombia’s Amazon River port bordering Brazil and Peru, on Sunday, which is Colombia’s Independence Day.
- All week the Los Angeles Times website has run an interesting exchange between the New America Foundation’s AndrÃ©s MartÃnez and Angelo Rivero Santos of the Venezuelan embassy.
- Most of the testimonies at yesterday’s House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Venezuela were quite thoughtful.
- The State Department will send a high-level delegation to Bolivia next week to deal with what the U.S. ambassador calls “serious problems” in the bilateral relationship.
- Costa Rica’s security minister complained that his country’s portion of the “MÃ©rida Initiative” aid package (US$4.2 million) is “not enough.”
- Another Government Accountability Office report questions the awarding of contracts for U.S. government broadcasts to Cuba.
- 15 years ago, Emmanuel Constant was perhaps the most feared person in Haiti, master of the brutal FRAPH death squad. Today, he is on trial in Brooklyn for mortgage fraud. That he was free on U.S. soil to begin with is one of the greatest, but least noticed, scandals in recent U.S.-Latin American relations.
- Colombia’s Special Forces extended to four years their winning streak in the U.S. Southern Command-hosted “Fuerzas Comando” tournament of Latin American Special Forces skills. Uruguay was second and Panama third at the event at Camp Bullis, Texas.