- Colombia’s new interior minister, Antioquia political heavyweight Fabio Valencia Cossio, will not resign his position despite revelations that his brother Guillermo, who until recently was Antioquia department’s chief prosecutor, is closely linked to Daniel RendÃ³n (”Don Mario”), one of the country’s largest fugitive narcotraffickers and principal sponsors of “new” paramilitary groups.
Extradited narcotrafficker “Chupeta,” after way too many nips and tucks.
- Colombian President Ãlvaro Uribe had to testify yesterday before the congressional committee investigating the case of Yidis Medina. The one-term congresswoman’s tie-breaking 2004 committee vote, which allowed Colombia’s constitution to be changed to allow Uribe to stand for re-election, was later revealed to be the result of bribes and favors. Uribe told the legislative panel that, in his view, the Prosecutor-General’s office should investigate the reporter who broke the story – Daniel Coronell of Noticias Uno, a fierce critic of the president – because he didn’t go to the authorities with what he had learned.
- As for Yidis Medina: after being found guilty of bribery, the former congresswoman is now in BogotÃ¡’s Buen Pastor prison. Last week, “for security reasons,” Medina was moved to the prison’s maximum security cell block, “where those condemned for terrorism and narcotrafficking are kept.”
- Brazil extradited to the United States Juan Carlos RamÃrez AbadÃa, alias Chupeta or “Lollipop,” a former North Valle Cartel boss and one of Colombia’s most ruthless narcotraffickers. He was captured by Brazilian authorities last year despite having tried to hide his identity by undergoing Michael Jackson-like amounts of plastic surgery.
- Paramilitary leader Hebert Veloza (”H.H.”), who has admitted to killing more than 3,000 people and has been giving much evidence to “Justice and Peace” investigators, will be extradited to the United States to face narcotrafficking charges. Due to concerns that he would be sent northward before having a chance to tell everything he knows, the extradition has been delayed for four months.
- “H.H.” gave an interview to Juan Forero of the Washington Post, which was published online this week to accompany a front-page story. “If I get extradited, the Justice and Peace process ends there, because the foot soldiers do not know anything. … If I go, then the story of the Self-Defense Forces is incomplete.”
- The FARC released a communiquÃ© repeating its demand for a humanitarian-exchange agreement to release its remaining civilian and military hostages. Interestingly, the statement makes no mention of the group’s long-standing pre-condition that prisoner-for-hostage exchange talks occur in a demilitarized zone.
- Thursday’s Los Angeles Times: “There were 329 so-called extrajudicial killings by the Colombian military and police last year, a coalition of Colombian rights groups asserts in a report, a 48% increase from the 223 reported in 2006.”
- In the face of skyrocketing violence and kidnapping, Mexico’s conservative president and left-opposition Mexico City mayor, among other officials, have joined in a pact for a common security and justice strategy.
- Meanwhile in BogotÃ¡, where some violent crime measures have started to inch back upward, the conservative govenment and left-opposition mayor are at loggerheads. This week, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos refused to attend a security meeting hosted by BogotÃ¡ Mayor Samuel Moreno because Santos only attends “high-level” meetings.
- First Chile’s El Mercurio, and later several other Latin American media outlets including Colombia’s El Tiempo, have been reporting that Barack Obama may take a September trip to Mexico, Brazil and maybe Chile.
- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega wants US$32 million in medical assistance from the United States in exchange for destroying hundreds of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles provided by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. But he won’t start bargaining, he says, until “Colombia is no longer a threat to Nicaragua.”
- Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in the Washington Post: The United States “is spending $3 million per mile to build a fence along its border with Mexico designed to keep out illegal immigrants seeking opportunities they cannot find at home. But for every mile of that fence, 2,500 young Latin Americans could receive monthly $100 grants to cover the costs of staying in school so they can get good jobs. Forevery mile of that fence, 15,000 children could receive Internet-capable laptop computers from MIT’s Media Lab, enabling them to join the globalized world rather than falling behind.”
- Pictures of Colombian President Ãlvaro Uribe visiting a much less-formally dressed Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in Georgia last weekend.
- Those with any interest in U.S. arms sales to the rest of the world should view a key document: the State Department’s annual report on the Foreign Military Sales program covering 2007, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Federation of American Scientists.