Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human rights group, is
accusing the Bush Administration of ignoring human rights
abuses by the government of Colombia.
Human Rights Watch said in a Friday that the
administration has squandered its leverage in Colombia by
its decision to renew aid to the Colombian Armed Forces.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
certified that Colombia is meeting congressional standards
for protecting human rights. The decision releases $34
million in aid to Colombia.
Human Rights Watch says it has "abundant
evidence" that Colombia has not complied with human
For example, the group says when Colombian officers are
linked to human rights crimes, they get promotions or pay
raises : Rights
Group Criticizes US Aid to Colombia VoaNews
According a new report published today by Human Rights
Watch, Colombia leads the Western hemisphere in reported
human rights and international humanitarian law violations.
In 2003, the government claimed as a success a decrease in
the worst categories of political violence. These decreases
are genuine; yet a close inspection reveals that they are
due to many factors, among them the consolidation of control
by illegal paramilitaries in some regions. So far, President
Álvaro Uribe has failed to break continuing ties between
units of the security forces and paramilitaries and has
failed to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against
humanity and serious human rights violations are brought to
Guerrillas also commit serious violations, including
massacres, selective killings, and indiscriminate attacks.
In 2003, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's
Army (FARC-EP) continued to kidnap civilians and hold them
hostage for financial or political gain : HRW
report on Colombia HRW
The Organization of American States has agreed to monitor
the disarmament of Colombia's paramilitary forces, lending
significant international support to a peace process that
has proven highly divisive at home.
OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria, a former Colombian
president, agreed in weekend talks with President Alvaro
Uribe to send representatives to Bogota to verify a
paramilitary cease-fire and assist in disarming the militias
following a negotiated agreement between them and the
But Gaviria's decision, made without consulting the 35
nations that make up the OAS, has angered some diplomats and
human rights officials in Bogota, who say it bestows
international legitimacy on a process that remains a work in
Essential questions such as how paramilitary leaders
would be punished, including those accused of committing
civilian massacres, have yet to be resolved.
Uribe plans to disarm 11,000 to 20,000 members of the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the paramilitary
federation known as the AUC, by the end of 2005.
He has argued that demobilizing the group, which makes
much of its money from the drug trade, would remove a major
illegal participant in the war and open the door for talks
with two enduring Marxist insurgencies.
The AUC agreed to a cease-fire in December 2002, though
several hundred civilian murders have been attributed to the
group since then.
Despite its harsh military tactics, the AUC enjoys deep
political support in much of the country for its success
against the guerrillas, which it fights alongside the
Its leaders, Carlos Castano and Salvatore Mancuso, are
wanted in the United States for drug trafficking.
The State Department, which has not taken a formal
position on the peace process but has provided money for its
earliest stages, considers the AUC a terrorist organization.
Last year, Uribe proposed legislation that would have
allowed paramilitary leaders to avoid jail time, even those
charged with grave human- rights abuses : OAS
will help to disarm Colombia's paramilitaries - San
The United Nations put forward a
proposal to help the peace process with paramilitaries in
Colombia but warns that this must be carried out with a
sense of purpose.
Yesterday, James LeMoyne, the special
delegate sent by Koffi Annan to Colombia, made a declaration
to this effect.
"We have studied with Chris Patten
(EU Commissioner for External Affairs) reports of the talks
with paramilitaries which are going on at present. If the
peace process is achieved, it can end forever the scourge of
the paramilitaries, finish violence carried out with
impunity, reinforce the legitimacy of the State in order to
strengthen democracy in Colombia and open a way to
negotiated settlements with ELN and FARC".
If this initiative is badly handled,
however, it could weaken democracy and the State in
Colombia, thereby squandering a historical opportunity to
reach a comprehensive solution to the conflict in the
country. We hope that the government will choose the right
path", he declared.
The special delegate of the UN
Secretary-General also referred to an eventual agreement to
have a humanitarian exchange between the government and
FARC, thereby allowing the liberation of hostages held by
"The General Secretary renews his
offer to act as a mediator to reach this goal. His offer is
sincere and transparent and he will not limit his efforts.
We hope to be able to help to start a dialogue with FARC and
ELN", he said.
He added that the United Nations
Organisation wishes fervently for the liberation of hostages
and "that the time had come for the Government and FARC
to make the necessary decisions".
The declaration shows, as well, that
the EU and the UN are on the same wavelength as regards the
importance that Colombia must give to the " putting in
place of the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for
In this regard Commissioner Patten has
indicated that during the visit of President Uribe to Europe
next February this subject "would certainly be put on
the agenda by many speakers"
UN Special Delegate LeMoyne also
stressed that the 'Declaration of London', signed last July
with the Government, which demands the implementation of
these recommendations "is an international agreement
without precedence with regard to Colombia. This agreement
is vital to help Colombia" : Naciones
Unidas abre las puertas al proceso de paz con los paramilitares,
pero debe ser serio El
Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Chris Patten, visited
Bogotá where he met amongst others President Uribe. At a
press conference Mr Patten criticised Plan Colombia, the
aerial fumigation of the cocoa crop undertaken and supported
by the United States as an anti- drugs measure. He also
called on the FARC to sign a humanitarian agreement that
would allow an exchange of prisoners.
The European Union still refuses to
ally itself with Washington in the crop eradication schemes
and prefers to give social assistance. Chris Patten
announced a finance package of 54 million dollars known as
"The Peace Laboratory" to help 62 towns out of a
total of 1,100.
Chris Patten said: "I have come to
express the strong support of the EU for the difficult fight
undertaken by the government against the terrorists but also
to underline that the wisest approach is to operate within
the legitimate framework", he added, in a reference to
the concern of the EU with anti-terrorism laws. These laws
have been criticised on several occasions by the United
Nations as they give judicial powers to the army.
Before he attended a meeting of NGO's
concerned with Human Rights, Chris Patten met
, mother of Ingrid Betancourt and Angela de Perez, the wife
of the former Senator, Luis Eladio Perez who is also
" We need support from the EU for
a Humanitarian Agreement. We believe that one must separate
the Peace Process from the Humanitarian Agreement because
those who are kidnapped are in mortal danger," said
After the meeting, Chris Patten stated
that he was very disturbed by the abuse of Human Rights in
Colombia. He invited the FARC to "negotiate and bring
about a Humanitarian Agreement (for the release of
prisoners)" and he condemned the kidnapping of
civilians by rebels. "Kidnapping is the worst
violation of Human Rights, it causes the break-up of a
family for years", he said.
Chris Patten's statement concerning the
attacks on Human Rights in Colombia provoked controversy
last week in Colombia. Vice-President Santos had even spoken
of the "neo-colonialist practices of the states of Old
UN ratify their support for humanitarian deal in Colombia - EU
in Colombia announces join-up with UN on prisoner swaps, ...
- EU Business
calls on Colombia to respect rule of law Reuters
acoge iniciativa de Unión Europea de impulsar ante la ONU acuerdo
humanitario El Tiempo
dan informe negativo a Christoper Patten sobre manejo que ha dado
el Gobierno a derechos humanos El Tiempo
Ingrid Betancourt proposed for Nobel Peace
Ms Ingrid Betancourt, the former presidential
candidate, detained in Colombia for nearly 2 years has been
nominated by a member of the French Parliament to the Selection
Committee responsible for choosing the Nobel Peace Prize Winner.
Ms Danielle Bousquet, the Socialist Party
deputy from Saint -Brieuc who is proposing Ms Betancourt.
According to Ms Bousquet, Ms Betancourt's campaign is based on her
passionate belief in Human Rights.
Ms Betancourt's struggle to establish a Peace
Process, her campaigns against corruption and her efforts to
re-establish democratic values and laws in her country are the
principal reasons cited by the French deputy in her letter to the
Selection Committee. She stated that awarding the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2004 to a candidate such as Ms Betancourt would promote
the greater commitment and involvement of International
Organisations and democratic countries in an attempt to end the
intolerable situation of the Colombian people.
42- year-old Ingrid Betancourt, a former
Green candidate in the Colombian Presidential elections was
kidnapped by FARC on 23 February 2002. A native of Colombia she
has dual French nationality as a result of her marriage to a
Since 1964, the civil war in Colombia has
resulted in 200,000 deaths with an average of 3000 civilians
kidnapped every year : La
candidature d'Ingrid Betancourt proposée pour le Nobel de la Paix
- 79-year-old Acuna, one of 14 founding members of the
Mothers of Buenos Ayres' Plaza de Mayo and Grandmothers of
the Plaza de Mayo (the latter created to find missing
grandchildren), could be home celebrating an August decision
by the Argentine government to repeal two amnesty laws that
had long shielded hundreds of military officers from
prosecution for the estimated 30,000 killed or disappeared
during the armed forces' 1976-83 "dirty war"
against its political opposition.
Instead, she recently traveled 3,000 miles north, to
Colombia's Choco province, to bolster an interfaith church
group called the Justice and Peace Commission, which is
fighting to protect and find out what happened to the
disappeared of Cacarica. This remote, predominately
Afro-Colombian community of 1,200 inhabitants was created
several years ago after a massacre and at least 70
disappearances by paramilitary militias drove its residents
from their villages.
Acuna says she also came to offer support to the
relatives of an estimated 6,350 Colombians who have
disappeared during the nation's four- decade-old civil war
pitting leftist guerrillas against the armed forces and
right-wing militias. The Association of Family Members of
the Detained and Disappeared (ASFADDES) says there has been
a dramatic increase in disappearances -- 3,593 since 2001,
compared with 258 from 1994 to 1995.
Reminding the world
"Our job is to remind the world that what happened
in Argentina is happening in Colombia. Disappearing people
is the most savage tool," said Acuna. "Your loss
does not officially exist; the authorities deny your
situation. Only you know what happened."
From the 1980s until the mid-1990s, most human rights
groups agree, disappearances in Colombia were mostly carried
out by the armed forces. But the tactic has become a
favorite of paramilitaries since then. Leftist guerrillas,
on the other hand, typically kidnap victims for ransom and
engage in political assassinations of mayors and other local
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch,
right-wing paramilitaries changed tactics in 2002, opting to
stop massacres against rebel sympathizers and begin killing
"individuals separately to avoid the publicity that
results when incidents are recorded as massacres." Many
disappearances occur when paramilitaries try to wrest
control -- often with the tolerance or support of the army
-- over towns and neighborhoods from the country's guerrilla
armies, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN).
Acuna said she sees several parallels between Choco
province and her native Argentina during military rule.
"The Argentine military also called us subversives
to control public opinion, and paramilitaries are installed
in the political structure of the towns. They are mayors and
judges," she said. "Do you know what it is like to
live side by side with those who killed and tortured your
"We know how difficult it is for people to break the
fear," she said, "but if more of us had dared to
break the silence earlier, there wouldn't have been so many
disappeared in Argentina." : In
Colombia's jungles, echoes of Argentina's 'Disappeared' SFGate.com
- FARC confirm they had been in talks with UN and French
government and now say that the secret mission that FARC had
been involved in (in Ecuador) has failed due to the arrest
of the top negotiator SimonTrinidad in Ecuador.
Simon T had been looking for a place where reps of FARC
would meet Kofi Annan and James Lemoyne (the special UN envoy)
as well as the planned meeting with reps of French government.
All this was to find a "solution" whereby a
Humanitarian Agreement could allow an exchange in which Ingrid
and some other P.O.W's could be freed.
Neither the UN or French authorities have denied or
confirmed this. Farc has Ingrid + 47 army officers + 3
Americans + 800 civilians. There are 400 prisoners who are
members of FARC in jail.
The possibility of a meeting in Brazil between FARC and the
UN had been officially mentioned by the Colombian government
at the end of 2003 in an effort to bring about an exchange
between the hostages and those rebels in jail : Les
FARC révèlent des contacts avec l'ONU et la France pour libérer
les otages (AFP)
- "Ingrid Betancourt is well and awaits a Hunanitarian
Agreement between FARC and the Colombian Government",
says Raul Reyes, number 2 leader of FARC. Following the
special documentary transmitted by TV5 in Latin -America and
Ireland last week, FARC has assured the family of Ingrid
Betancourt, the Colombian politician kidnapped by FARC since
Feb 23 2002.
According to FARC, Ingrid knows that her freedom depends
on the humanitarian agreement that FARC are anxious to sign
with the Colombian President. However Reyes stated that it
is impossible for FARC to negotiate an exchange of prisoners
with the Colombian government because of the
"intransigence of President Uribe."
Ingrid's family has confirmed this state of affairs. In a
statement issued by Fabrice Delloye, ex-husband of Ingrid
and father of her 2 children, he said that President Uribe
is unwilling to get involved in any negotiation. This leads
the family to think that Uribe is ignoring the fate of 900
of his fellow countrymen who remain in the hands of the
various rebel groups. Some of these have been in the hands
of FARC for over 5 years. "In the name of humanity and
in a desperate attempt to save the lives of those people who
are in danger of death the family calls on the International
community to help find a way to begin a dialogue that will
free our hostages" (see news
U.S. counter-drug policy in the Andes gives too much
priority to military aid, focuses too much on Colombia and
pays too little attention to urgent economic and social
issues, a new report said on Thursday.
Launched in 2000 by the Clinton administration and the
centerpiece of the Bush administration's anti-drug fight
abroad, Plan Colombia makes about $700 million a year in
mostly military assistance available to the Andean region,
with the lion's share earmarked for Colombia.
Officials in Colombia and the United States say sharp
drops in the planted acreage of coca crops in Colombia,
thanks to crop spraying, and reduced violence across the
region are signs that Washington's policy has been working.
But the report's authors say the plan will fail in the
long haul, with drug production merely shifting to other
countries, notably Bolivia.
"Security issues, drugs, corruption, poor land
distribution, income inequalities and other problems need to
be tackled multilaterally" said John Heimann, former
Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury and one of the report's
authors : Reuters
Colombia's rebels had pinned their hopes to Simon Trinidad
to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the government, a move
that could free dozens of hostages, including three
Americans, being held by the guerrilla fighters.
But the high-ranking Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia commander now has become a prisoner himself -
topping the list of those the rebels want the government to
hand over in exchange for the soldiers, politicians and
three U.S. military contractors they are holding captive.
The rebel commander was captured in neighboring Ecuador on
Trinidad's seizure has dampened many hopes surrounding
the potential exchange.
Observers say that while the FARC will be more anxious
than ever to push through such a swap - particularly given
rumors that Trinidad has cancer - the hardline
administration of President Alvaro Uribe is not likely to
release its catch, the most senior rebel netted in nearly
four decades of civil war : Rebel
Capture Nixes Prisoner Exchange
The Guardian UK
A senior commander of the Colombian left-wing guerrilla
group, the FARC, has been deported following his capture in
Ricardo Palmera, better known as Simon Trinidad, is the
most senior member of the FARC to be caught so far.
Mr Palmera was captured by Colombian and Ecuadorean
authorities on Friday while he was being treated at a clinic
in the south of the Ecuadorean capital Quito, Colombian
He was receiving treatment for leishmaniasis, a disease
common in Colombia's jungles : FARC
leader deported to Colombia - BBC