- In an interview with today’s Los Angeles Times, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos declares his intention to “fly to Washington to lobby for continuance of Plan Colombia” shortly after Barack Obama’s inauguration.
- The National Security Archive has released a series of declassified U.S. documents that make clear U.S. officials knew about the Colombian armed forces’ serious human rights problems during the 1990s. The documents discuss both “false positives” – the practice of murdering civilans and presenting their bodies as guerrillas killed in combat – and collaboration with paramilitary groups.
- NPR interviews Colombian novelist Laura Restrepo (author of Delirium) about Colombians’ views as the Obama administration begins. “It’s a Pax Paramilitar. I mean, the peace that’s going on now depends on paramilitary forces.”
- Three weeks after the FARC announced its intention to release six long-held hostages, a time and place has still not been set. The guerrillas are demanding the presence of “some democratic personality from a brother country or the international community” at the release. A piece published yesterday by Inter-Press Service provides a detailed situation report.
- Ten years ago today, El Tiempo recalls, paramilitary groups carried out their first major massacre in the department of Putumayo, in El Tigre. As many as 3,000 people would be killed or disappeared in Putumayo over the following five years. Nine years ago Sunday, President Bill Clinton introduced the “Plan Colombia” aid package, most of which was first spent in Putumayo.
- The Economist appears to believe that Colombian President Ãlvaro Uribe is close to making official his intention to hold a referendum allowing him to run for a third term. “[L]ast month he gave the clearest sign yet that he wants the referendum bill to be approved. During a 17-hour debate in the lower house on the last day of the parliamentary year, he first sent ministers to press waverers and then issued a decree allowing the session to continue past midnight. That was enough to ensure the billâ€™s passage to the Senate.”
- In Mexico on Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador announced the delivery of $99 million in new military aid through the “MÃ©rida Initiative.” It will pay for “aircraft and non-intrusive inspection equipment.”
- The Colombian Coffee Federation wants to sue U.S. comic-strip artist Mike Peters for a “Mother Goose and Grimm” strip implying that Juan Valdez is actually in the coffee beans. We were unaware that you could sue someone for not being all that funny.
- Along with former Prime Ministers Tony Blair of the UK and Michael Howard of Australia, President Uribe will be in Washington Monday to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush. An unnamed colleague notes that in today’s Washington, this is only a shade better than getting an award from Rod Blagojevich.