Sept. 11




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Hot Spot! Columbia

  • May Day in Colombia: Another SINTRAINAGRO Leader Murdered
    Action Alert (May. 8, 2003) IUF

    The murder of Jesús Gómez brings to over 130 the number of union leaders murdered in Colombia over the past year. To date, no one has been prosecuted or even detained by the authorities in connection with these serial murders.

    American Reporter (Dec. 6, 2002) via Oread Daily

    Colombian journalist Ignacio Gomez told a roomful of America's most influential journalists Tuesday how Washington-supported Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is connected to drug traffickers and how U.S. military trainers helped organize a massacre in his country. Among the 1,000 guests at the Committee to Protect Journalists' annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria grand ballroom were NBC's Tom Brokaw, CBS's Dan Rather, Time-Warner's Walter Isaacson, Reuters CEO Thomas Glocer and executives and reporters from the nation's major TV networks, newspapers and newsmagazines. Gomez, 40, has twice gone into exile after death threats. The media "stars" applauded him for his courage. But did they put his revelations into print or on air? If you didn't see the stories he recounted in the American press, don't be surprised. As they do every year at the CPJ event, "leading" U.S. journalists lauded the courage of people chancing death for telling the truth, but continue to pull punches in their own news organizations for fear of endangering their multi- million-dollar salaries.

    Here's more of what Gomez unveiled for colleagues. After he investigated a 1997 massacre in Mapiripan, in which 67 people were decapitated, Gomez reported in 2000 that the Colombian military officer accused of masterminding the crime had been accompanied "at all times" by a dozen U.S. military trainers. He also linked the massacre to paramilitary leader Carlos Castano. Gomez has written frequently about the role of Colombian military and paramilitary in massacres though Washington downplays their connection. Several months after the report was published in the Bogota daily El Espectator, Gomez was almost kidnapped while entering a taxi. He was forced into exile.

    Last year he reported that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had discovered an airplane belonging to then-presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe and his brother at a drug lab belonging to the Medellin cartel Gomez and the station news director got death threats, and Uribe declared ominously that "a free press is one thing, and a press at the service of ... shady deals is something else."

    As he accepted the CPJ award, Gomez told the audience that "Colombian journalists first exposed the corruption of the war on drugs, but because of an information monopoly tied to the current government, truth is dying in Colombia. We are no longer allowed to be heard." He said that one of the two national papers and 23 TV news shows had been shut down."

  • Colombia: Violence explodes in province where army, under U.S. pressure, focuses on protecting an Occidental pipeline
    T. Christian Miller (Sept. 15, 2002) LA Times

    Under pressure from Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum and the U.S. government, the Colombian military has redeployed its forces to protect a key oil pipeline, leading to an explosion of violence in the undefended countryside.

    Until now, U.S. aid has been limited to fighting drug trafficking. But as early as next month, the first U.S. instructors will arrive to launch a controversial training program to help Colombian soldiers better protect the pipeline. The U.S. is also planning to send helicopters and improve intelligence sharing with the Colombian army.

  • Bush Administration Policy in Latin America: Analysis & Talking Points
    Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC) Americas Project

    Although political violence is rampant in Colombia, this violence is the product of a civil war—not an eruption of international terrorism aimed at the U.S. or other foreign targets. U.S. military involvement will surely not resolve conflicts in places like Colombia, but rather will fuel more violence while doing nothing to address the underlying causes of domestic political strife.

  • US Oil Interests in Columbia
    National Mobilization on Columbia

    The United States imports more oil from Colombia and its neighbors, Venezuela and Ecuador, than from all of the Persian Gulf. As President Bush's energy agenda prioritizes energy independence from the turbulent Middle East and the left-leaning President Chavez of Venezuela, attentions turn to oil-rich Colombia. Many parts of the country remain unexplored, making secure access to Colombian oil reserves a high priority.

  • Colombia: Washington's Next Dirty War
    Jason Mark (June 1, 2000) Global Exchange Background Report

    In a gruesome return to interference in Latin American civil conflicts, the US is now set to throw fuel on the fire already consuming Colombia. In early January, 10 weeks after the "No Más" rallies, the Clinton Administration betrayed the Colombian people's appeal for peace and proposed a two-year, $1.3 billion aid package for Colombia, over 80 percent of it for military and police assistance. In late March the House of Representatives approved the increased military spending in a 263 to 146 vote. Two months later the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a smaller version of the aid package. By early June, when this newsletter went to press, the full Senate had not voted on the package. Though it is expected to pass, last minute grassroots lobbying could tip the balance. (See Action Box.) And if it does pass, the bill still must go to conference committee, where, again, citizen pressure could help to craft a less deadly military package.

  • Colombia to get aid in fighting insurgents: U.S. will increase intelligence-sharing
    Karen De Youn (Feb. 22, 2002) Washington Post

    Colombia has urgently asked the United States to provide intelligence information, including intercepts from guerrilla satellite telephones and other communications as well as aerial surveillance and satellite photographs of FARC installations, so it can plot rebel movements and anticipate attacks.

    U.S. intelligence-sharing with Colombia is restricted to counternarcotics activities under a directive, signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, that prohibits intelligence involvement with Colombia's larger guerrilla war. Congressional restrictions similarly limit the use of U.S.-provided military equipment in Colombia.

    But government lawyers are examining whether the sharp escalation of the Colombian conflict this week, and President Andres Pastrana's labeling Wednesday of the FARC as "terrorists" for the first time, provide maneuvering room.

Sept. 11
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