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Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Compare And Contrast: Colombia And Venezuela

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 29, 2011

First, Colombia:

We have known for years about the dangers of being a trade unionist in Colombia, of the murders of organizers and labor officials. The murders have increased in frequency in the years since the US negotiated a trade deal with Colombia. They are well documented.

Now, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has put names to the tragedy. In a letter to President Obama, Trumka says that 22 union activists have been killed in Colombia this year, including 15 since a so-called “Action Plan” designed to crack down on union violence was instituted in the country. All of their names are in a fact sheet at the end of the letter.

Trumka added that six Catholic bishops have been killed in Colombia in 2011.   The Bishops Conference of Colombia believes the killings occurred because of “their courageous commitment… with the prophetic denunciation of injustice and the cause of the poorest in the country.”

Now, Venezuela:

On a hillside overlooking Caracas, Venezuela, Pedro Echavez feeds sweet potato greens to his rabbits. These animals are raised for their meat, but their droppings also fertilize Echavez’s black bean and vegetable plots. This four-acre farm produces enough food to provide 80 percent of the diet for the sixteen people living in his community.


The Venezuelan equivalent of the US Department of Agriculture is overseeing the project. Yet, unlike the USDA, which gives around $20 billion in subsidies to the largest producers in the United States annually, Venezuela is giving 4.3 billion bolívares fuertes ($1 billion) in low-interest credit solely to small and medium-sized grain producers. Another 13 billion bolívares fuertes ($3 billion) is set aside for fruit and vegetable operations, as well as growers of crops like coffee, cacao and sugar cane. A portion of what farmers grow will be used to pay off the loans, and much of this produce will be locally packaged, processed and sold at state-owned supermarkets.

President Hugo Chávez’s leftist Bolivarian Revolution has embraced the idea of food sovereignty, or the right of a people to define their own food and agriculture policy. The food sovereignty movement is a global one, and the organization at the forefront, La Via Campesina, counts 300 million members. Venezuela is one of many countries, including Ecuador, Bolivia, Mali and Nepal, that have, in response to this grassroots movement, developed a legal framework for food sovereignty.

Tell your congresscritters to oppose the trade deal with Colombia. The fact that this nation’s bloodsoaked ruling classes are feted by the US’ elite, while the far more democratic and human Chavez is demonized by corporate-owned American media and corporate-owned American politicians, shows just how amoral is our leadership.

Posted in Colombia, farming, food, global food crisis, unions, Venezuela | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A ray of hope: resistance to impunity

Posted by Charles II on November 11, 2010

I generally think of Colombia as hopeless, a place where people blindly support Uribe and the paramilitaries because they’re scared of the alternative, i.e. Maoist guerrillas and narcos, both of which are violent and do need to be reined in… but at the cost of putting power into the hands of equally violent paramilitaries?

But (via Adrienne) Brother John witnessed something extraordinary: an anti-impunity march.

Impunity is the problem, whether it’s in Colombia or the US. In the US, Bush commits torture… and gets away with it. Banksters crash the financial system, costing millions of Americans their jobs and roiling the entire world economy… and we pay off their bad debts. The Republicans run their entire campaign based on lies as brazen as “Obama is a Muslim” and “death panels”… and they are swept back into power.

This is impunity: Evil no longer feels bound by custom, law, or the fear of God. It does whatever it likes, destroying everything until it is so weakened by destruction that it collapses.

The anti-impunity folks in Colombia face a daunting situation. This post, for example, describes a couple of guys returning from a hearing to which they had voluntarily presented themselves, where they had been falsely accused of being militiamen. They were fired upon by paramilitaries on a motorcycle: prosecutor/judge/jury/executioner. One was shot in the leg, but they managed to escape.

Also, a paramilitary told someone from the Peace Community of San Jose Apartado that he was on a death list compiled by the Black Eagles.

This is impunity. The fact that people are willing to witness against it is a miracle, a ray of hope that should inspire us.

Posted in abuse of power, Colombia, walking the walk, War On Some Drugs | 4 Comments »

The Great Game, South American Version

Posted by Charles II on March 1, 2010

The BBC is reporting the following:

Judge Eloy Velasco charged six members of Basque separatist group Eta and seven members of Colombian rebel group Farc with various offences.

He said he believed Farc had asked for Eta’s help in a plot to kill Colombian officials in Spain, including Mr Uribe.

He said the two groups benefited from “Venezuelan government co-operation”.

In a 26-page indictment Mr Velasco said an investigation launched in 2008 has turned up evidence “that demonstrates Venezuelan governmental co-operation in the illicit collaboration between Farc and Eta”.

Both groups are listed as terrorist organisations by the US and EU.

Now, it could be true. But there are elements to the story that make me skeptical.

First, cooperation between ETA and FARC seems unlikely. ETA is a long-standing nationalist organization that has, for many years, steered away from terrorism toward political action. ETA was blamed for the Madrid bombings that were actually performed by North African Al Qaida members, producing a well-deserved embarrassment for the conservative government that had attempted to manipulate public opinion. The last terrorist incident that Wikipedia records is, if I am correct, six years ago. FARC is, well, weird, espousing a Marxist-Leninism that doesn’t resonate well even inside Colombia, where they long ago lost the battle for public opinion.

Second, the story involves the magical laptops, for which the provenance of the data is in question. Furthermore, some of the contents, even if real, were simply not plausible. Whether that was due to forgery by the Colombians or by the weirdness of FARC is unknown.

The BBC is also unaccountably vague in describing the alleged Venezuelan link, Arturo Cubillas Fontan. The judge supposedly says he “has held a job in the government of President Hugo Chavez – and may still have one….He is also a key member of Eta, running its operations in Venezuela and the region.” Surely the job title matters. Was he a janitor or a Cabinet secretary? Cadena Ser says that Cubillas Fontan, apparently a Basque, was employed by the Agricultural Ministry and that his wife, also of Basque extraction, is a Director General in the agency. He has been in Venezuela since the 1980s, so it’s not like Chavez imported him. A full list of suspects is given by here.

It’s also implausible to me that ETA has “operations” outside of Spain, but I suppose it’s possible, especially if by “operations,” the judge means Cubillas Fontan.

Finally, it’s unclear to me why FARC would attempt to assassinate a former president of Colombia or attack the Colombian embassy in Spain. It’s not like either action would improve their situation. Of course, since I don’t understand FARC’s strategy, if one even exists, it could be.

The same goes for involvement by Chavez. I could understand if he had supported a plot to assassinate Uribe. It’s not as if the two are friends. But a former president of Colombia? At the cost of attracting an international s–tstorm? Maybe, but…

…But, as with all the allegations swirling around the monstrous mess we have helped to create in Colombia by our support of the cocaine trade, a lot of questions remain to be answered. The US has been trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government for a decade and has, in the course of that effort, committed acts that make skeptical anyone who has followed the situation.

Posted in Colombia, Latin America, terrorism, Venezuela | 6 Comments »

Good News From Colombia, Of All Places

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 4, 2010

Proof that good things can flourish even in one of the world’s most notorious narcostates:

Indigenous and rural women from southern Tolima, a province located in the heart of Colombia, are lending a hand to the bleak land around them, with the aim of simultaneously recovering the ecosystem and regaining their own dignity, in a community effort that is changing their environment and their lives.

Manos de Mujer (Women’s Hands) is the name of the non-governmental organisation working since 2001 in Natagaima, a town some 100 kilometres south of the provincial capital, Ibagué. Nine hundred women of the Pijao native community plant ecosystem-friendly seeds to grow natural crops without the use of agrochemicals.

“Nine years ago, the land all around my plot was a yellowish colour. There were only one or two lonely trees,” Claudina Loaiza, who has been part of the projects since its onset, told IPS.


“When I left the father of my children, because of his drinking and cheating, I began planting my own fruit and vegetable garden in my yard; this was something I really wanted,” Loaiza said, her eyes shining as she introduced her daughter and niece, who work the land with her.

“I’m the kind of woman who’d rather be alone than have a bad man by her side,” she said, before going on to describe how she fenced off her one-hectare garden with 144 metres of wire netting.

“I felt, and I still feel, so proud, because we were planting beans, watermelon, plantain, cassava, corn, green vegetables and all sorts of things, without using any weed killers or chemicals, just what we prepared for fertilising and replenishing the soil,” she explained.

Posted in Colombia, environment, family values, farming, food, gardening, Good Things | 1 Comment »

Our valiant allies in the drug wars

Posted by Charles II on February 22, 2009

Jeremy McDermott, The Beeb:

Colombia’s secret police is under investigation over claims rogue agents may have intercepted phone calls and passed on information to criminals.

Magistrates, politicians, officials and journalists may have had phones tapped.

It is the latest scandal to hit the Department of Administrative Security – or DAS, as the secret police are known – under President Alvaro Uribe.

One ex-DAS director is accused of giving right-wing death squads the names of suspected rebel sympathisers.

Posted in Colombia, corruption, War On Some Drugs | 1 Comment »

Extra! Extra! US media are biased!

Posted by Charles II on February 2, 2009

Steve Rendall, Tess Hall, and Daniel Ward in Extra:

Any evenhanded comparison of the Colombian and Venezuelan governments’ human rights records would have to note that, though Venezuela’s record is far from perfect, that country is by every measure a safer place than Colombia to live, vote, organize unions and political groups, speak out against the government or practice journalism.

But a new survey by FAIR shows that, over the past 10 years, editors at four leading U.S. newspapers have focused more on purported human rights abuses in Venezuela than in Colombia, and their commentary would suggest that Venezuela’s government has a worse human rights record than Colombia’s. These papers, FAIR found, seem more interested in reinforcing official U.S. policy toward the region than in genuinely supporting the rights of Colombians and Venezuelans.

They link an interesting study by Kevin Young analyzing the media coverage according to the propaganda model developed by Herman and Chomsky. Basically, it’s a hypocrisy-meter. One point that I somehow succeeded in missing: Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe also campaigned to extend his term. The American media’s response? Well, he’s tremendously popular, so it must be ok.

Posted in Colombia, Media machine, propaganda, Venezuela | 2 Comments »

Something About This Smells Funny

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 24, 2008

Funny strange‘, not ‘funny ha ha’:

Coffee powerhouse Colombia hopes early next year to join other producers to buy an influential share in Starbucks, with Brazil and Central American growers also interested, a top coffee official told Reuters.

Colombia, the world’s No. 3 producer, has held talks with banks for a year about a share in the U.S. giant, which would allow growers more say in the supply chain, said Gabriel Silva, director of the National Federation of Coffee Growers.

“There is an opportunity the crisis offers us; Starbucks’ share value is at one of its lowest points in history,” Silva said in an interview late on Monday. “We want to have a position of influence … a voice sufficiently strong to be able to contribute to the development of the company.”

On the one hand, the idea of producers having more control and profit from their produce is a good idea in principle. On the other hand, Colombia’s government is made up of hard-right fascist thugs, so I suspect that the peasants who grow the beans will see very little benefit.

Posted in big money, Colombia | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Hostages Speak

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 8, 2008

A story that’s currently getting big play in the US media is this condemnation of FARC by Marc Gonsalves, one of the two military contractors who had been held by FARC up until last week.

Interestingly, fellow former hostage Ingrid Betancourt’s publicly thanking Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez for his long-standing efforts on the hostages’ behalf is not getting any US media play that I know of. In fact, the only place I’ve seen it is here:

As Ingrid Betancourt emerged after six-and-a-half years – sunken and shrivelled but radiant with courage – one of the first people she thanked was Hugo Chavez. What? If you follow the news coverage, you have been told that the Venezuelan President supports the Farc thugs who have been holding her hostage. He paid them $300m to keep killing and to buy uranium for a dirty bomb, in a rare break from dismantling democracy at home and dealing drugs. So how can this moment of dissonance be explained?

Yes: you have been lied to – about one of the most exciting and original experiments in economic redistribution and direct democracy anywhere on earth. And the reason is crude: crude oil. The ability of democracy and freedom to spread to poor countries may depend on whether we can unscramble these propaganda fictions.


On 1 March, the Colombian government invaded Ecuador and blew up a Farc training camp. A few hours later, it announced it had found a pristine laptop in the rubble, and had already rummaged through the 39.5 million pages of Microsoft Word documents it contained to find cast-iron “proof” that Chavez was backing the Farc. Ingrid’s sister, Astrid Betancourt, says it is plainly fake. The camp had been totally burned to pieces and the computers had clearly, she says, been “in the hands of the Colombian government for a very long time”. Far from fuelling the guerrillas, Chavez has repeatedly pleaded with the Farc to disarm. He managed to negotiate the release of two high-profile hostages – hence Betancourt’s swift thanks. He said: “The time of guns has passed. Guerilla warfare is history.”

So what now? Now they claim he is a drug dealer, he funds Hezbollah, he is insane. Sometimes they even stumble on some of the real non-fiction reasons to criticise Chavez and use them as propaganda tools. (See our Open House blog later today for a discussion of this). As the world’s oil supplies dry up, the desire to control Venezuela’s pools will only increase. The US government is already funding separatist movements in Zulia province, along the border with Colombia, where Venezuela’s largest oilfields lie. They hope they can break away this whiter-skinned, anti-Chavez province and then drink deep of the petrol there.

By the way, Greg Palast debunked the “$300 million” nonsense back in March, yet I haven’t seen any US mainstream corporate media acknowledgement of this.

Posted in anti-truth, Chavez, Colombia, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, Oil, terrorism, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

The Venezuela-FARC connection

Posted by Charles II on May 15, 2008

One of the stories we have followed is the attempt of the US government to destabilize the left-wing government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. One of the more recent developments had to do with the assassination of Colombian FARC rebels by military incursion across the border of Ecuador , which led to the call-up of the Venezuelan army, a lot of manly chest-pounding, and an eventual diplomatic resolution.

In the course of this, the Colombians claimed to have captured three laptop computers and associated hardware with information that proved, they said, that Hugo Chavez was funding and collaborating with the FARCies. This is a big deal, since FARC is designated by the US as a terrorist group, even though they are the heirs to a generations-old civil war. The Busheviks have reserved the right to invade any country aiding terrorists, which would give them the right to invade Venezuela if it weren’t completely illegal under international law.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Colombia, colonial wars, Latin America, terrorism, Venezuela | 9 Comments »

The Story They Won’t Tell You

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 10, 2008

Really, for all the US press’ focus on FARC — and the corresponding pretense that Colombian president and right-wing Bush buddy Alvaro Uribe is some sort of saint even as he goes out of his way to try to destablize to the government of neighboring Ecuador, which is what he says the FARC is trying to do to him — it’s rather interesting that in fact Uribe and his crowd make FARC look like choir boys:

I mean, sure, back in the day Senator Uribe was considered to be one of the world’s top drug dealers, working for the Medellin cartel and being—how did U.S. intelligence put it?— “a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar.” But that was 1991, this is now, and surely we couldn’t hold a grudge going back to the early 90s (sorry just a little laptop humor!)


For the record, Colombian paramilitaries are also listed as a terrorist group in the US and Europe. With that in mind, Uribe’s political allies alone make the FARC look like boy scouts. Por ejemplo:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Chavez, Colombia, conservativism, corruption, cronies, GOP/Media Complex, Latin America, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, projection, propaganda, rightwing moral cripples, totalitarianism, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

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