Archive for 2002

Bush and Uribe Undermine UN Security Council

Category: Armed Conflict, US Foreign Policy
By · December 16, 2002 · Comment

During the first weekend in December, the Bush administration pulled off what amounts to a diplomatic coup d’etat at the United Nations Security Council. But the White House did not carry out this illegitimate seizure of power alone. Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe proved to be an invaluable ally in helping Washington undermine the legitimate decision-making processes of the Security Council with regards to the handling of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction disclosure. Only days before Colombia’s UN Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso blatantly violated an agreement between Security Council members by handing over the Iraqi report to Bush administration officials, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had been in Bogotá discussing the war on terror—and U.S. aid—with President Uribe. Read more»

Colombia Court Declares Rehabilitation Zones Unconstitutional

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights
By · December 9, 2002 · Comment

On November 26, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the suspension of civil liberties in two so-called Rehabilitation and Consolidation Zones established by President Alvaro Uribe was unconstitutional. The court’s ruling means that the Uribe administration must either reform the authoritarian policies it has imposed on Colombians living in the zones or attempt to amend the country’s constitution. In the meantime, the Colombian military can no longer conduct searches and arrests without warrants, restrict the movement of civilians, or prevent foreign journalists from entering these areas. Justice Alfredo Beltrán explained the court’s ruling by stating, “Uribe can’t go above the constitution; that’s a dictator.” Read more»

The U.S. War of Terror in Colombia

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, War on Terror
By · December 2, 2002 · Comment

In the aftermath of September 11th, a counterterror orientation developed within U.S. foreign policy that has led to a blending of the war on drugs with an alleged “war on terror.” U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft stated, “The State Department has called the FARC the most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western Hemisphere,” and that Colombia’s leftist guerrillas have “engaged in a campaign of terror against Colombians and U.S. citizens.” The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Otto Reich, has argued that the “40 million people of Colombia deserve freedom from terror and an opportunity to participate fully in the new democratic community of American states. It is in our self-interest to see that they get it.” As a result, the Bush administration, which has committed $514 million to Colombia for the year 2002—with 71 percent of the grant in the form of military aid—is now set to commit some $700 million for 2003 for what it argues is an extension of its international “war on terror.” Read more»

Uribe Administration Impeding Foreign Press

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, Media
By · November 25, 2002 · 1 Comment

Since coming to power in August this year, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has shown a willingness to flout the conventions that hindered his predecessors. He has discussed modifying Colombia’s bicameral Congress to a single chamber, thereby drastically reducing the number of elected representatives. He has begun creating a nationwide network of paid civilian informants, and has sought to arm civilian brigades in guerrilla-controlled areas (thus creating new paramilitaries). He has ignored human rights and environmental concerns about the aerial fumigation campaigns that are a key element of the misguided drug war. He has established de facto martial law in two sections of the country. And, as ever unconcerned with his critics or the Colombian Constitution, Alvaro Uribe has now added tighter media controls to his authoritarian playbook. Read more»

Washington’s New Rules of Engagement

Category: Armed Conflict, US Foreign Policy
By · November 18, 2002 · Comment

In January 2003, up to 100 U.S. Army Special Forces troops will arrive in Colombia to provide counterinsurgency training to Colombian troops. The U.S. soldiers are being dispatched as part of a $94 million counterterrorism aid package intended to protect an oil pipeline used by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum. The September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States have allowed the Bush administration to escalate the U.S. military role in Colombia to previously unimaginable levels under the guise of the war against terrorism. The posting of U.S. troops to a mostly rebel-controlled region will dramatically increase the possibility of U.S. soldiers being killed. Such an occurrence would then provide the Bush administration with the justification it needs to directly involve U.S. combat troops in the war against Colombia’s leftist guerrillas. Read more»

Generating Power and Poverty

Category: Economics and Globalization, Human Rights
By · November 11, 2002 · Comment

Many of the communities in Colombia’s remote northeastern department of La Guajira exist on the periphery of the country’s violence. The semi-arid landscape is not conducive to guerrilla warfare and looks more like the southwestern United States than any other part of Colombia. While the region’s geography is responsible for keeping much of the country’s violence at arms length, it is the cause of another form of conflict currently being waged against numerous La Guajira communities: economic globalization. In the early1980s, ExxonMobil—through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Intercor—and Colombia’s state-owned coal mining company Carbocol began extracting coal from the El Cerrejón mine in southern La Guajira. El Cerrejón soon became the world’s largest open-pit mine as it grew to its current size of 30 miles long and five miles wide. This continuing expansion has wreaked havoc on local communities, some of which have already been gobbled up by the mine, and others that are targeted for destruction over the next couple of years. Read more»

Will Drug Crop Eradication Spark Conflict in Peru?

Category: Armed Conflict, War on Drugs
By · November 4, 2002 · Comment

Peru could lose its certification in the fight against drugs next year—and its eligibility for tariff exemptions under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA)—if it fails to meet a U.S. demand that between 3,500 and 7,000 hectares of coca crops be eradicated by the end of this year. While inclusion in ATPDEA also hinges on participation in negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and support for the U.S. fight against terrorism, Peru must specifically comply with a requirement for “successful eradication” of drug crops, especially coca, according to Nils Ericsson, head of the Peruvian government’s National Commission for Development and a Drug-Free Life (DEVIDA). “That is the factor that most concerns the United States,” he said. Read more»