- Headlines just since the weekend in the U.S. press:
- Colombia had a mini-political storm last week, just over a year after the cross-border raid into Ecuador that killed FARC leader RaÃºl Reyes but triggered a crisis of relations with Ecuador and Venezuela. Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, a longtime political heavyweight who makes no secret of his presidential aspirations, asserted Colombia’s right to “legitimate defense,” eliciting enraged responses from both Quito and Caracas and putting President Ãlvaro Uribe in an uncomfortable position.Â “Unfortunately, and with pain in my soul,” said Hugo ChÃ¡vez on Sunday, “I would immediately send for the Sukhoi [Russian-made fighter] planes and war tanks to be started up, but I won’t let Venezuela’s sovereignty and dignity be disrespected for anything in the world.”
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released its annual report on Colombia’s human rights situation. This report, like the State Department annual report issued a week earlier, includes an extensive discussion of the Colombian security forces’ practice of extrajudicial executions.
- “The mainstays of the counterinsurgency approach that is working in Colombia could be adapted to Afghanistan,” concluded the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, on a visit to Colombia last week.
- Paramilitary leader Hebert Veloza, alias “H.H.,” had been cooperating with Colombian authorities, giving a lot of information about his past crimes. That is over now, as he was extradited to the United States last week to face narcotrafficking charges.
- In an unusually lengthy piece about El Salvador today, the Washington Post says that Sunday’s presidential election there is the FMLN’s to lose.
- The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Caribbean town of Bluefields, Nicaragua, is booming economically thanks to regular arrivals of cocaine cast off by drug-smuggling boats trying to evade authorities. “Even lobster fishermen now go out with the pretense of fishing, but really they are looking for ‘white lobster.’”
- I published a piece Friday on the U.K.-based site OpenDemocracy.net about the DAS wiretap scandals and Colombia’s turbulent political moment.