Archive for 2005

From Coca-Cola to Cocaine: ‘Tis the Season for Hypocrisy in Colombia

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, War on Drugs
By · December 19, 2005 · Comment

Several events that occurred in the final weeks of 2005 represent a microcosm of the hypocrisies evident in the security and economic policies being implemented by the Bush and Uribe administrations. The recent demobilization of the Central Bolivar Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) shed more light on the Colombian military ’s collusion with the right-wing paramilitary group. Just as disturbing is President Alvaro Uribe’s recent acknowledgement that the Colombian military has been implicated in a plot to overthrow the democratically-elected leader of neighboring Venezuela. Meanwhile, the inequities in Washington’s “free trade” policies were again made evident by the realization that the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of indigenous Colombians would not be afforded the same rights as those enjoyed by U.S.-based multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola. Read more»

The Successes and Failures of President Uribe

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, Politics and Democracy
By · November 28, 2005 · Comment

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe has officially announced that he will run for a second term. During his first three years in office, the U.S. government and the mainstream media have repeatedly touted the successes achieved by the Colombian leader’s Democratic Security and Defense Strategy. But there are several important questions related to these claims that immediately come to mind. For example, does achieving a reduction in kidnapping and criminal violence justify state repression against those sectors of civil society critical of the government’s policies? Or, what percentage of Colombians have benefited from the country’s recent economic growth? And do the government’s social and economic policies reflect the desires of the Colombian people? With the announcement of his candidacy for the May 2006 election, it is time to look at the most prominent successes and failures of President Uribe in three key areas: security and human rights, the civil conflict, and the economy. Read more»

Despite FTAA Defeat at Americas Summit, Free Trade to Be Imposed on Colombians

Category: Economics and Globalization, US Foreign Policy
By · November 7, 2005 · Comment

When it became clear that the closing declaration of the recent Summit of the Americas would not endorse the U.S.-pushed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), President George W. Bush boarded Air Force One and departed Argentina before the summit had concluded. In the aftermath of the U.S. failure in Argentina, the Bush administration continues to work for bilateral or sub-regional free trade agreements throughout the Americas. On November 14, negotiators from the United States, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will meet in an attempt to finalize a U.S.-Andean region free trade agreement. Read more»

Presidential Re-Election in Colombia Good News for Paramilitaries

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights, Politics and Democracy
By · October 24, 2005 · Comment

With Colombia’s highest court just approving the constitutionality of a law that allows for the president’s re-election, supporters of Alvaro Uribe Vélez are stepping up their campaign to give the hard-line conservative another four years in the presidential palace, saying now is not the time to change course in the country. They point to recent public opinion polls showing approval ratings of up to 78 percent for the president, and drops in the official kidnapping and murder rates nationwide since Uribe took office in 2002. In a six to three decision, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ended months of political uncertainty on October 19, ruling that the Congress was within its mandate to approve the law to allow for the re-election of the president, although it did not permit the legislature to amend the Constitution at will. Read more»

Living in the IMF’s World

Category: Economics and Globalization
By · October 17, 2005 · Comment

It is difficult to decide whether officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are blind, stubborn, ignorant or all of the above. On the same day that tens of thousands of Colombians marched through the streets of Bogotá to protest a proposed free trade agreement with the United States, Anoop Singh, the IMF’s director for Latin America, said that the elections in nine Latin American nations next year are “an important opportunity for continuing with reforms that have already raised growth in the region.” In other words, Singh believes that Latin Americans have an “opportunity” to endorse the IMF-imposed neoliberal model by electing leaders who will continue implementing structural reforms. Why, given the recent swing to the Left of Latin American voters, continuing widespread protests against neoliberal policies and the growing regional popularity of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s anti-neoliberalism, would Singh for a minute imagine that Latin American voters would turn to the Right? Read more»

Is a Redistributive Political Project Viable in Colombia?

Category: Economics and Globalization, Politics and Democracy
By · October 3, 2005 · Comment

While many countries in South America have taken a turn to the left, Colombia’s presidency remains in the hands of right-winger Alvaro Uribe. Furthermore, many representatives in Colombia’s Congress are ideologically aligned with the country’s president. Consequently, the national government has done little to address the gross economic inequalities prevalent in Colombia. If anything, the neoliberal policies implemented by the Uribe administration have exacerbated the situation for the 64 percent of Colombians living in poverty. Meanwhile, next door in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez continues to implement his hugely popular “revolution for the poor.” The stark contrast between the two governments’ approach to poverty begs the question: Is a redistributive political project viable in Colombia? Read more»

A Paramilitary Group Demobilizes

Category: Armed Conflict, Human Rights
By · September 19, 2005 · Comment

Inside the confines of a disused water plant not far from Cartagena, Colombia’s top tourist destination, 596 paramilitaries from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) wait. Soon these fighters from the Mountains of Maria Bloc, like thousands of AUC soldiers before them, will disarm and become civilians once again. This group was feared and loathed. Operating in northwest Colombia, it fought against leftist guerrilla groups it calls “the subversives.” The paramilitary group also unleashed its vengeance and terror upon innocent civilians and those it accused of collaborating with the AUC’s sworn enemies. Read more»