An “error,” or “a clear act of war?” Six FARC hostages to be freed
Dec 192008

  • Colombia’s House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday authorizing a referendum on whether President Álvaro Uribe can run for a third term. But the bill appears to allow him to run for a non-consecutive term in 2014, not in 2010. The Colombian Academy of Language was brought in to decipher the verb tense used in the bill (”a verbal inflection of a pluperfect participle”), to try to determine whether Uribe would have to wait for a third straight term. While Uribe has not yet announced his intentions, there are more indications that he has his eye on 2010, and the Colombian Senate could change the bill in his favor.
  • If Uribe cannot run again until 2014, Reuters provides a short list of political figures who could be leading candidates in 2010. The list includes both opposition leaders hoping for an upset victory, and pro-government politicians who would face a significant likelihood of playing Medvedev to Uribe’s Putin.
  • Leaders of 31 Latin American countries met in Brazil this week to discuss a range of economic and security issues. The United States was not invited.
  • Leaders present at the summit made interesting proposals. Bolivia’s Evo Morales called on the entire region to expel its U.S. ambassadors until the United States lifts its embargo on Cuba. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa called on President Obama to end Plan Colombia and the Cuba embargo. Hugo Chávez brought up the possibility of inviting the DEA back to Venezuela, after ejecting them in 2006. And Cuba’s Raúl Castro offered to release some political prisoners if the U.S. government freed five alleged Cuban spies in U.S. jails.
  • Brazil-based analyst Sam Logan published a very thorough overview of the Obama administration’s likely plans for hemispheric relations on the site of Switzerland’s International Relations and Security Network.
  • Ted Galen Carpenter of the libertarian Cato Institute pokes holes in the Bush administration’s claim that significant progress has been made on reducing cocaine availability in the United States.

And what was the sky-high street price of cocaine that justified such optimism? $170 per gram. Adjusted for inflation, that price was actually higher than the latest price spike to just under $183. Yet clearly that earlier alleged supply-side victory in the drug war was short lived. According to the DEA’s own statistics in the December 2008 report, cocaine prices had declined to a mere $96 per gram by January 2007.

  • In a very long interview with El Espectador, President Uribe’s chief peace negotiator, Luis Carlos Restrepo, says that the FARC are now highly permeable to government infiltration.

At this moment the FARC are a very porous structure. Not the closed, inviolable one that we knew until very recently. The number of people who have demobilized have allowed us to have communication channels to others who remain in the FARC, they allow us to know what is happening on the inside, so that our psychological actions are more effective.

  • The U.S. group Witness for Peace has produced a stirring 13-minute video on extrajudicial executions in Colombia.
  • “In my opinion, many of the recent acts with regard to human rights violations began before Uribe was president, when there was violence with impunity. He is trying to strengthen institutions like justice. Crimes must be investigated, among the military and in other places. That is being done, and nothing was done before. It is impossible to fix everything in eight years, but there have been advances.” – Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York), interviewed in the Colombian magazine Cambio.
  • Panamanian police skirmished with a Colombian armed group on Panama’s soil a week ago. Ecuadorian troops keep finding FARC encampments in jungles near the border.
  • A delegation from China’s Defense Ministry paid a visit to Bogotá this week. Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos visited Russia in October. It appears Colombia is no longer putting all of its military eggs in the U.S. basket.
  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega spent the week in Russia, where his plans may include a visit to the pro-Russian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in Georgia.
  • Venezuela’s government expressed hope that the massive cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe “will not be used to destabilize politically” the authoritarian government of Robert Mugabe.
  • In Argentina, a court ordered the release on bail of 14 former military officers accused of very serious human-rights abuses during the military dictatorship that ended in 1983. They are still facing trial, but have been jailed for two years or more without trial. Among those freed, at least temporarily, is former naval intelligence officer Alfredo Astiz, the “Angel of Death” profiled in Tina Rosenberg’s 1991 book Children of Cain, convicted in absentia in France for the killing of two French nuns. President Cristina Fernández called their release an “embarrassment.”

11 Responses to “Friday links”

  1. Jaime Bustos Says:

    The Big Hoax. Now Playing in Theaters everywhere.

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Taken from a comment in Semana online, today:

    fredy gomez martinez

    DENUNCIAMOS a Jaime Uribe (primo del presidente uribe) el mayor narco-para-ganadero de urabá, usurpador de tierras y desplazador de campesinos, que responda por la cocaina que le decomisaron esta semana en su finca Casacoima de mutatá, que atrapen a sus testaferros para que confiesen y que hablen de sus relaciones y tareas de la para-alcaldesa de Mutatá, Maria Luz Estrada Barrientos. A este Narco-ganadero lo pueden encontrar en la hacienda la Risaralda de carepa, que es custodiada por nuestro prestigioso ejercito nacional, o en la finca EL Binomio de Bajirá, que es custodiada por nuestra honrosa policia nacional, o en la empresa Semillas y Semillas de medellin que es una oficina camuflada de actividades ilegales. A ver autoridades, que pasa pues con esta impunidad tan descarada?

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Parapolitics exposed

  4. Camilla Says:

    Good roundup, balanced and interesting.

    I wish the Uribistas would quit trying to parse words to claim Uribe can run again. I’d love Uribe to be president forever in Colombia because of all his magnificent achievements, he’s truly a man who made a difference. But there’s nothing more dangerous than leaving someone in power too long. Corruption kicks in, the opposition grows flaccid, all kinds of hazards are there, just look at the hellhole that is Cuba. Nobody stays a good president for 12 years, they do make greatness in 8 years however and it’s been nearly 8 years.

    I don’t think Uribe can top anything he’s already done, bringing confidence and prosperity to Colombia for the first time in its history. He needs to go out in a blaze of glory, his legacy in history assured, his name on streets and currency and stamps and schools and parks and books and awards and statues well assured.

    Let it go, Uribistas, your man won and won big. He doesn’t need to win again.

  5. Camilla Says:

    By the way, doesn’t Chavez look dour and menacing in his combat fatigues in the photo while all the other Latin leaders wear tropical brights and unique ethnic originals? I wonder who he thinks he’s going to go to war with? It’s like he’s on combat footing or in his case, looking for it. He’s up to no good.

  6. Marcos Says:

    Today’s “winners”:

    -”a comment” in Semana online

    -”Witness” for “Peace”

    -Evo Morales

    -Ecuador “finding” FARC encampments

    -Daniel Ortega



  7. Chris Says:

    FOXNews reporting that FARC will release hostages… 6 total including police and governor.

  8. Maximón Says:

    Camilla, doesn’t Bachelet look just smashing in Chavez red though?

    Uribe was soiled goods well before he got into the President’s office. And Americans should be the last people to comment on Cuba, they cannot go there to see for themselves so they fantasize about Cuban corruption. But even more, for someone who reads this blog so often, you shouldbe more hesitant in proclaiming the successes of Uribe. The violence is going back up, sharply in some places, and it is the result of Uribe’s ‘friends’ in the paramilitaries. Maybe las FARC are more contained than during the 90s and earlier this decade but his little bargain with the paras has gotten Colombia no where.

  9. Santiago Garcia Says:

    FOXNews reporting that FARC will release hostages… 6 total including police and governor.


    Not to worry, they got 10 hostages to take their place:

  10. Kyle Says:

    Santiago, as far as I know, as of the time of that el tiempo article, no one was 100% who kidnapped the 10 in Meta, though the authorities said it was the FARC, as they do with everything (they did even claim the FARC was the biggest contributor to global warming in Colombia on one occasion!), but the FARC would make sense. Of course, we could be seeing problems of internal cohesion with regards to timing if it ends up being the FARC who kidnapped the 10 in Meta.

  11. Sergio Méndez Says:

    Is fun to see Camilla trying to blame reelection on uribistas, and not Uribe. Uribe, aside from being a very bad president, is an hypocrite. He pretends to be somebody who says things in an straighforward manner, yet he is being playing dirty to get this reelection aproved and pretending he is not. In colombian jargon we have a way to call people like Uribe (aside from being a paramilitary etc…): SOLAPADO

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