At least they held off for 26 days The Red Cross emblem
Aug 012008
  • U.S. Military and Police Aid

    The State Department certified this week that the Colombian military’s human rights performance is improving. The decision frees up 25 percent of military aid in the foreign aid budget for 2007, and 15 percent of aid for 2008, that had been frozen pending this certification. The department’s memorandum justifying the certification decision [PDF] is 130 pages long, far more extensive than previous justification memos.

  • On the new “Just the Facts” program blog, we note that for the first time in about a decade, Colombia is not getting the majority of U.S. military and police aid to Latin America. In late June, when the 2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act green-lighted the “Mérida Initiative” aid package for Mexico and Central America, Colombia’s share of total U.S. security assistance to the Western Hemisphere slipped to an estimated 39%, down from 62% in 2007 (and 73% in 2000, the year the Plan Colombia aid package was approved). Colombia remains in the number-one position ahead of Mexico (31% in 2008), but not by much.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing yesterday about the military’s growing foreign policymaking role. Video of the proceedings will soon be posted to the C-SPAN website. (We arrived at the hearing room just before it was scheduled to begin, but the space was already full to overflowing. We look forward to hearing what was said.)
  • The Uribe administration sent to the Colombian Congress this week a judicial-reform bill that would, among other things, strip the Supreme Court of its power to investigate congresspeople accused of wrongdoing. It is hard to view this as anything other than payback for the Court’s dogged persistence in investigating politicians’ ties to paramilitary groups.
  • Over 100 displaced people, angered by a bureaucratic foul-up that prevented delivery of assistance, staged a sit-in near the manicured, cafe-lined 93rd Street Park in Bogotá’s exclusive Chapinero district yesterday. Most spent the night there until Bogotá Mayor Samuel Moreno promised to resolve their situation.
  • El Tiempo reports that Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” the powerful fugitive paramilitary leader whose name I heard often on an April 2008 trip to Guaviare department, has offered to turn himself in to the authorities. He cites several attempts on his life from other narco-paramilitary factions operating in and around Guaviare, Meta, and Vichada.
  • Mexico City’s La Jornada newspaper reports that Barack Obama may visit Mexico in September.
  • The New York Times published a letter from me in response to last week’s op-ed from Defense Secretary Gates and Colombian Defense Minister Santos calling for maintaining security assistance levels. The letter’s argument is nothing new to readers of this blog.
  • Everyone from The Economist to the Andean Information Network is praising “Bolivia’s Long and Winding Road,” an analysis of Bolivia’s crisis and how it can be resolved, written for the Inter-American Dialogue by analyst George Gray Molina. I add another recommendation; I learned a lot from this piece and agree that “a return to legality” would be a great starting point.
  • EFE: “The FOX channel decided not to broadcast in Argentina an episode of the animated series ‘The Simpsons’ in which reference is made to ‘the Perón dictatorship’ and it is said that the ex-president ‘disappeared’ people, in order to avoid reopening ‘painful wounds.’

17 Responses to “Friday links”

  1. jcg Says:

    The current judicial-reform proposal has, thankfully, met with resistance from the high courts themselves and other entities…which may not be enough to prevent it if the government really decides to go full steam ahead ***and*** the congressional coalition backs it.

    Which is possible, mathematically speaking, but sometimes fails, in practice, even against the government’s wishes, for one reason or another…so it cannot be taken for granted, for better or for worse.

    Speaking of human rights related news…would this be a coincidence?

    Capitán (r) del Ejército aceptó su responsabilidad por masacre de San José de Apartadó

    Guillermo Armando Gordillo confesó a la Fiscalía su participación en el asesinato de ocho personas, entre ellas tres niños.

    Según la Fiscalía “aceptó su responsabilidad en los delitos de homicidio en persona protegida y concierto para delinquir”.

    En la masacre fueron asesinados Luis Eduardo Guerra Guerra, su compañera Beyanira Areiza, y su hijo Deyaner Andrés Guerra Tuberquía. También murieron Alfonso Bolívar Tuberquia Graciano, su esposa Sandra Milena Muñoz Pozo, y sus hijos Natalia y Santiago, así como el señor Alejandro Pérez.

    “El hoy procesado era el responsable de la Compañía Bolívar del Batallón Vélez de la XVII Brigada del Ejército, y estaba cumpliendo el operativo contrainsurgente “Fénix” en el área mencionada”, dice la Fiscalía.

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jcg, that’s the irony of US-Colombia political relations by convenience.

    This one is yet another rubric of their hypocritical and truth twisting shameless politics, this time in a rhetorical fashion:

    Colombia’s hard-won freedom from violence can be sustained only through economic prosperity. Together, as partners, we must see Colombia’s transformation to completion. In winning the war, we must also consolidate the peace.

    Robert M. Gates is the United States secretary of defense and Juan Manuel Santos is Colombia’s minister of defense.


  3. lfm Says:

    Ahem, ahem, I called attention to the “justice reform” a few days ago. But the wind I´m getting now here in Bogota is that it´s part retaliation, part power-grab and all bullshit. Apparently not even the government thinks it has a serious chance at passing. It´s another helium balloon to keep everybody worked up about something while they work on the re-election thing. Anyway, if it passes, it would be pretty scary. You have to give it to the guys in the government: they know how to get their money´s worth even when they set up a sideshow.

  4. Camilla Says:

    Wonder why Obama isn’t planning any trip to Colombia. Is he scared to go?

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Maybe Obama is well aware of the thieve’s den Colombia has converted into. Maybe he is also aware of the rancid lineage of narcotraffickers ruling Colombia, and just as Mr. Gore, don’t want to be caught in embarrassing photographs with dubious characters, before the campaign is over.

  6. jcg Says:

    Mr. Gore publicly explained his own position in a communique only after Uribe himself broke the news, of course. It wasn’t so much about going to Colombia, as about his participation in a forum elsewhere (in the U.S. perhaps?), I seem to recall, where Uribe was going to be. No matter, you might say.

    But Obama’s case is a little different. What I know is that apparently Obama received an spoken invitation from the current Mayor of Bogotá, who is not exactly a saint but doesn’t belong to the same lineage Jaime is referencing above (or at least not quite, extrapolations aside). In fact, I believe the candidate met Samuel Moreno not that long ago, and said he could go to Colombia as President. Googling it up:

  7. Randy Paul Says:

    Is he scared to go?

    What a truly stupid statement, considering that he just came back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  8. Camilla Says:

    I’m not talking about physical fear, moron. Why do you always have a big problem with anything I write, always jumping to errant conclusions? It’s like you are always looking for the worst with no intellect for inquiry. It’s almost as if you can’t turn any thought process on without having a comment up from me to wind you up. I’ve never seen anyone more hostile and stalkerly on bulletin boards than you. You must burn up inside.

    I’m talking about moral fear. It would be hard to go to Colombia and claim the place is Guatemala circa 1976 when Colombia is now being hailed as the next Chile and its victories cascade in all directions- military, economic, moral, global, artistic – there is no nation like this:

  9. Randy Paul Says:

    Why do you always have a big problem with anything I write, always jumping to errant conclusions?

    Probably because of your groundless slurs against people like Luis Eladio Perez and Nancy Pelosi, your inability to distinguish between fact and hearsay (or double hearsay, for that matter), your generally flatulent and tendentious commentary, your sloppy and limited communications skills that invariably force you to backpedal and clarify such as the one you just made, amongst other logical defects you have when you attempt to make an argument.

    It’s like you are always looking for the worst with no intellect for inquiry.

    There’s a word for this: it’s called projection.

    It’s almost as if you can’t turn any thought process on without having a comment up from me to wind you up.

    Don’t flatter yourself. Your knee-jerk reactions reveal far more about you than me.

  10. Camilla Says:

    Don’t be a liar – you know very well you aren’t interested in anything written on this blog by Adam – it shows in your lack of any intelligent or nonintelligent commentary on them. You are strictly interested in trolling me – your posts speak for themselves – if I’m not saying it, you aren’t interested. It’s quite creepy, like a stalker or serial killer. Tell me, do you have any original thoughts of your own, or do you rely on me to get your blood circulating in the morning? What a troll you are, RP.

    Anything in Adam’s links above that interest you, RP? Or is it only my response that interests you? I think I can guess before you make your next troll post devoted strictly to personal insults, not the content of Adam’s links.

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    Don’t be a liar – you know very well you aren’t interested in anything written on this blog by Adam – it shows in your lack of any intelligent or nonintelligent commentary on them.

    Oh please. Is everyone who disagrees with you a liar? I’ve been posting on this blog long before you came along to befoul the commentary. If you think that I am obliged to allow you to get away with the hyperbolic, one-sided, presumptuous comments that you make, I urge you to disabuse yourself of that notion. If you can’t stand the heat . . .

    As for the write of this blog and his opinion of me, I’ll let him speak for himself:

    I don’t think I even knew what a blog was in December 2002. But I’ve been a regular reader for more than 2 of those years. Congratulations on publishing one of the 2 or 3 absolutely most essential blogs on Latin America, Randy.

    Thank you, Adam.

  12. Randy Paul Says:

    Now that you have explained what you actually meant, Camilla, given the recent tenor of the campaign, I would imagine that if Obama went to Colombia, McCain and his Karl Rove wannabes would be accusing him of being an elitist who’s more concerned about Colombians than Americans.

    BTW, Camilla, you referred to me as a stalker again. This is your last warning. Stalking is a crime. Libel is a tort. If you accuse me of being a stalker simply because I respond negatively to your posts, you are libeling me by accusing me of a crime. The remedy for libel usually involves civil damages. Govern yourself accordingly.

    As for other posts I have made in the comments here that have absolutely nothing to do with you, consider this one and my posts 1,3 and 7 here.

  13. Randy Paul Says:

    As for calling me a troll, perhaps you should acquaint yourself with what the term means:

    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    While you are not off-topic, your comments are clearly designed to provoke an angry response. You are the troll; I am your enabler, but I think I will stop doing so. Others routinely point out just how thoroughly disingenuous and nasty you are.

  14. MZR Says:

    With respect, Camilla, the nature of your posts stimulate constant rebuttal. They are often without any evidence, rely too heavily on pro-US/pro-Uribe media, or use very dubious evidence (whilst your posts are simultaneously presented as though they are “fact”). You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and, thus, entitled to post what you like (within reason. Accusing someone of a crime is, of course, extremely problematic). However, you simply cannot blame Randy Paul (and I am also guilty of this) for constantly commenting on your posts, especially when your posts are so fervently pro-Colombian government, pro-Uribe, etc, etc, etc. Posts like these will invariably stimulate a response. Likewise, when I have posted something that you disagree with, you have subsequently commented.

    I would also agree with Randy Paul (with regards to libel action). To accuse him of being a stalker (or, indeed, a serial killer) is too strong and, on a public forum such as this, may indeed implicate you in a libel case should Randy Paul wish to take the matter further. For example, Randy Paul could request (via his lawyers) for your email and IP address from this website (both of which will have been already logged, I assume) to be submitted in any further court case.

    And Randy Paul – I implore you to continue with all your posts, whether they be in relation to a Camilla’s posts or otherwise.

  15. lfm Says:

    I was tempted to sit this one out. I have no interest on heaping scorn on Camilla; he already does a great job at disgracing himself. For that matter, Randy already knows that I appreciate his comments.

    But I guess it doesn´t hurt if I point out that Obama has nothing to fear in Colombia. I haven´t seen any polls, but from my corner of the woods I can tell that he would get a pretty warm reception, just like he´s been getting anywhere else. No, I don´t just rub elbows with leftists (although, for sure, I do enjoy that a lot). I have a pretty conservative family and they seem happy with Obama. Colombians don´t seem to think that Obama will spell disaster for the country. Of course, a hard-line uribista might prefer Mc Cain. But, surprise, surprise, Colombians are not hardliners. The impression I´m getting here is that, as much as Colombians may like Uribe, they don´t want the war to go on with no end in sight, especially if it becomes a slugfest, they wouldn´t mind some kind of peace overture if they believed it would be effective, they´re concerned about the economy, get queasy about the scandals surrounding Uribe, even if they think the guy is innocent, and some even have second thoughts about a third term. If you want to get ad hominem, I would say that whereas Camilla enjoys attacking those of us in the left as being in unrepresentative of Colombia, as if it was our duty to fall in line with any particular majority, turns out that Camilla´s hardline might be pretty minoritarian in Colombia.

    I guess the real reason Obama is not visiting Colombia, to the extent that that is an important issue, which I doubt, has more to do with Florida. I guess the Dems are figuring out something I´ve been thinking for a while: the Miami Cubans are a paper tiger. All they did in 2000, mobilized as hell, was to pull a draw. Maybe the Dems believe that, to carry Florida all they need is to mobilize their own base there a bit more without having to twist Obama into all kinds of uncomfortable foreign-policy contortions just to please guys that will never, ever vote for him. As it happens, like many other Colombians, I have family in Miami, pretty conservative folk, as you´d expect. Guess what? They like Obama!

  16. Camilla Says:

    Randy Paul: It depends entirely upon your behavior.

    And four deranged posts in a row don’t make you look too good.

  17. Plan Colombia and Beyond » New human rights certification Says:

    [...] The State Department has just announced a new certification that Colombia’s armed forces are improving their human rights performance. The September 8 action is the first such certification since July 28, 2008. [...]

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