Archive for 2000

Colombia: Another U.S.-Sponsored Killing Field

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, US Foreign Policy
By · December 18, 2000 · Comment

On December 5, Doug Morris, Co-director of the David Anderson Center for Peace and Justice, was interviewed by the Progressive Student Alliance, University of Hartford.  In the interview, Morris discusses U.S. foreign policy, Plan Colombia, the Drug War, neoliberalism, the U.S. media, human rights, and the socio-economic causes of the conflict. He also puts the “Drug War” in historical and global perspective. Read more»

The Crumbling Peace Process

Category: Armed Conflict
By · December 11, 2000 · Comment

On December 7, Colombian President Andrés Pastrana decided on a two month extension for the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) — a Switzerland-sized area in southern Colombia ceded to the FARC in return for its participation in the peace process — even though the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have frozen the peace talks because of the government’s failure to control the right-wing paramilitary groups. Many Colombians, especially those of the middle and upper classes, want the DMZ discontinued, and the short two month extension illustrates the increasing pressure on the government to abandon the peace process. Read more»

The Art of Negotiation

Category: Human Rights
By · December 3, 2000 · Comment

On June 24, 1988 Texas oilman Jake Gambini was kidnapped in Colombia by guerrillas. For the next six months–during which time the guerrillas never revealed what political group they belonged to–Gambini’s employees and his Colombian brother-in-law, Herbert “Tico” Braun, would engage in protracted ransom bargaining. By the time Gambini was kidnapped, guerrilla abductions of well-heeled Colombians and foreigners were so endemic that maneuvering for a captive’s release had become as commonplace and stylized as the give-and-take that occurs when one buys or sells a house or a high-end used car. Read more»

The ELN Creates a Different Peace Process

Category: Armed Conflict, Politics and Democracy
By · November 27, 2000 · Comment

When international attention is directed to the Colombian peace process, most observers focus on government dealings with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). A unique meeting in Switzerland on July 24 and 25, however, revealed the possibilities and difficulties of a very different kind of process: one carried out with the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second major guerrilla group. Indeed, the sight of Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres–two jailed ELN leaders on leave from their prison near Medellín–mingling in a Geneva hotel lobby with President Andrés Pastrana’s top peace negotiators, 80 representatives from Colombian civil society, and other fellow insurgents, was emblematic of the special nature of the peace process in Switzerland. Read more»

The Paramilitary Spearhead of Plan Colombia

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, War on Drugs
By · November 20, 2000 · Comment

Over the past five weeks the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have imposed an armed blockade on the southern province of Putumayo in response to increased paramilitary attacks ahead of Plan Colombia’s military “push into southern Colombia.” Also, the FARC announced last week that it is suspending peace talks until the government takes steps to dismantle the right-wing paramilitaries, a demand the guerrillas have made repeatedly throughout the peace process. The government has done little to combat the paramilitaries,  especially in Putumayo where they move freely through army checkpoints while waging war against the guerrillas. Read more»

Paramilitaries Commit Massacres with Army Support

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights
By · November 13, 2000 · Comment

On November 1, 2000, a paramilitary death squad assaulted the village of El Cedral and its surroundings in Ituango municipality of Antioquia department. The paramilitaries murdered eight people and looted and burned over 25 homes. More than 400 people were forced to leave their homes in the area and have now joined the nearly 2 million other internally displaced people in Colombia–mostly refugees fleeing paramilitary violence. Two days later, on November 3, paramilitaries murdered 27 more people in three other villages in Antioquia. It is quite possible that the same paramilitary unit was responsible for all of these attacks and that the army facilitated their movement, by land and/or air, between the various settlements. Read more»

The Failure of Coca Eradication in Peru and Bolivia

Category: War on Drugs
By · November 6, 2000 · Comment

The Clinton Administration claims that the strategy of eradicating illicit crops worked in Peru and Bolivia, therefore, the same tactics will work in Colombia. The White House uses the reduction in coca cultivation in both Peru and Bolivia as proof of the effectiveness of its eradication policies. However, overall coca production in the region remains the same today as it was five years ago. The eradication of coca crops in Peru and Bolivia forced production to move to Colombia where it more than doubled over the past five years. Meanwhile, Peruvian and Bolivian peasants who were forced to stop growing coca have been offered few economic alternatives, which has resulted in violent protests by peasant farmers in both countries. Read more»