Archive for 2004

A Conversation with Luis ‘Lucho’ Hernandez

Category: Economics and Globalization, Human Rights
By · December 6, 2004 · Comment

Luis ‘Lucho’ Hernandez, president of Colombian trade union SINTRAEMCALI, cuts an imposing figure in the lobby of a sea-front hotel in Brighton, England. He sips his coffee whilst chatting in Spanish to an interpreter, having just spoken at a solidarity meeting on the issue of privatizing services in developing countries. Lucho knows a thing or two about the fight to keep essential services in public hands. He’s lost his job, hardly ever sees his kids and has to sleep in a different place almost every night due to security concerns. He has paid a heavy price for his tireless campaign work. Read more»

Plan Colombia Benefits U.S. Oil Companies

Category: Armed Conflict, Economics and Globalization, War on Drugs
By · November 12, 2004 · Comment

Harken Energy is the latest oil company to benefit from the United States’ escalating involvement in Colombia. On November 4, the Texas-based company announced the signing of a new oil exploration and production contract in Colombia. The company is closely linked to President George W. Bush who served on its board of directors from 1986 until 1990. In addition to providing half a billion dollars a year in Plan Colombia aid during his first term, President Bush has given Colombia almost $100 million in counterterrorism aid and deployed U.S. Army Special Forces troops to protect a major oil pipeline. The escalating U.S. military intervention in Colombia, along with International Monetary Fund (IMF)-imposed economic reforms, has created favorable conditions for foreign companies such as Harken seeking to exploit Colombia’s oil reserves. Read more»

U.S. Support for War of Terror in Arauca

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, War on Terror
By · October 28, 2004 · Comment

During the current election campaign, there is much discussion of the U.S. “war on terror.” While this discussion focuses almost entirely upon the Middle East, Iraq and Al-Qaeda, there is almost no mention of Washington’s current war in Colombia, a war in which the United States is actually supporting military forces that are terrorizing the population. Indeed, the U.S. Congress, over the objection of numerous human rights organizations, recently deepened the U.S. role in Colombia by voting to double the U.S. troop level there from 400 to 800. This troop involvement is in addition to the more than $3.5 billion the United States has already spent on the Colombian military since 2000, making Colombia the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world. Read more»

Colombians Protest Economic Policies

Category: Economics and Globalization
By · October 18, 2004 · Comment

Last week, more than one million Colombians marched through the streets of cities throughout the country to protest President Alvaro Uribe’s economic policies. More than 300,000 crowded into Bogotá’s Plaza Bolívar where they burned a U.S. flag and voiced their displeasure with ongoing discussions between Colombia and the United States aimed at establishing a free trade agreement. With unemployment and poverty also on the rise, Colombia’s largest daily El Tiempo asked if the demonstrations marked the beginning of the end of the “Teflon presidency.” While Uribe still maintains substantial popular support, his approval rating has dropped six points in the latest polls as more and more Colombians have become disenchanted with his neoliberal economic agenda. Read more»

Colombian Army Selectively Targets Paramilitaries

Category: Armed Conflict
By · October 4, 2004 · Comment

In recent weeks, the Colombian military has waged an offensive against a dissident paramilitary group in the eastern department of Casanare. The success of the campaign against the Casanare Peasant Self-Defense Forces (ACC) illustrates how easily the Colombian Army can combat the country’s right-wing paramilitaries when it chooses to do so. The country’s largest paramilitary organization, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), is also fighting the ACC in a turf war over cocaine-producing territory. The army’s ongoing offensive against the ACC is helping the AUC consolidate its control over the region. Read more»

Unabashed Media Support for U.S. Drug War

Category: Armed Conflict, Media, War on Drugs
By · September 27, 2004 · Comment

A September 27 article by Juan Pablo Toro of the Associated Press titled “Colombia Police Aim to Disrupt Drug Trade” is yet another example of U.S. mainstream media functioning as a mouthpiece for U.S. foreign policy. Given most U.S. media outlets’ reliance on wire service reports for international news, the Associated Press is a primary provider of information to the U.S. public. This latest drug war article reads like a print commercial for U.S. counternarcotics operations in Colombia with Toro providing virtually no context or analysis to help the reader put the depicted events in perspective. Read more»

With Friends Like These…

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights
By · September 20, 2004 · Comment

The imminent demise of the Labour Party has been the favorite topic of many Brits recently. But, unusually, it’s foreign policy; specifically the war on Iraq and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, that has convinced so many grandees that the party they spent so much of their lives fighting for is in turmoil. Blair’s penchant for making right-wing friends across the world has been much commented on during his term of office. One particular friendship that is about to move from merely uncomfortable to highly embarrassing is that with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a statesman not noted for his pursuit of social justice. Read more»