Colombia This Week -- editing date 20/01/03

Fri 10 – Bush names Roger F. Noriega to Latin American post; 10 people killed in Cúcuta.

·The Bush Administration nominates Roger F. Noriega as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs replacing Otto J. Reich, according to The New York Times.

·Ten people killed, including a pregnant woman and her child, by suspected paramilitaries in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander), El Espectador reports.

·Agents of the Attorney General's office and Department of Administrative Security (DAS) raid the headquarters of the United Workers Federation (CUT) in Cali. State officials reportedly destroy windows and files, and detain five people, including two secretaries and three union members, Colombia Solidarity Campaign reports.

·In an interview with El Espectador, Interior and Justice Minister, Fernando Londoño outlines a pragmatic approach to peace process with paramilitaries. He suggests the Government would be willing to accept impunity for crimes against humanity.

·United States has donated US $2 m to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to help hungry and displaced people in Colombia.

·National Council of Economic and Social Policy (CONPES) authorises the Colombian government to approve a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for US $ 14 m to finance the modernisation of the Procurator General's Office.

·Three peasants killed by paramilitaries in Barrancas (La Guajira), El Espectador reports.


Sat 11 – Paramilitaries kill six peasants in La Guajira; Amnesty fears for the safety of IDPs.

·Six peasants massacred in La Guajira by suspected paramilitaries, Vanguardia Liberal reports.

·Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of five members of the displaced community of Puerto Lleras, (Chocó) after they were reportedly abducted by army-backed paramilitaries following an incursion at the Jiguamiandó River.

·Attorney General's Office is investigating 11 Police officers, including the Sub-commander of the Police in Córdoba, Colonel William Restrepo for reportedly stealing 300 kilograms of cocaine confiscated from narcotrafickers, El Espectador reports.

·President of Ecuador Lucio Gutiérrez says his government will support mediation by United Nations in a possible cease fire and a peace process with Colombian armed groups adding that he would prioritise the security on its borders.

·The Pope names two new Colombian Bishops. Monseñor Flavio Calle for the diocese of Ibagué and Monseñor Rafael Arcadio Bernal Supelano for the diocese of Líbano-Honda,

·ELN lift the economic blockade in Southern Antioquia after meeting with a humanitarian commission of Mayors of the region and envoys of the Catholic Church, El Espectador reports.

·A car bomb explodes in Tamé (Arauca), injuring the driver. Defence Minister Martha Lucía Ramirez says the victim was forced to drive the vehicle, Reuters reports.

·Policarpo Camacho and Gloria Holguen, leaders of the Agricultural Workers Union (FENSUAGRO) in Calarco (Quindío) remain in detention after their home was raid by officials, Colombia Peace Association reports.


Sun 12 - Car bomb kills three soldiers; Credhos reports threats to human rights defenders.

·Three soldiers are killed and three more wounded when a car bomb explodes near the village of La Palma (Cundinamarca).

·In a letter sent to Uribe Vélez, Colombian NGO Credhos (Regional Committee for the Defence of Human Rights) reports that 17 of its members have fled the Magdalena Medio region in the last year because of threats and security problems. They ask the Government to fulfil the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

·Leaders of the Norte del Valle drug cartel offer to surrender to Colombian authorities. They want assurances they will serve sentences in Colombia and they will not be extradited to the United States, according to El Tiempo.

·Colombia Peace Association reports that 57 violent killings have been registered in the first ten days of 2003 in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander), allegedly committed by paramilitaries.


Mon 13 – US cut off aid to Colombian Air Force; Trade unionist killed in Tame (Arauca).

·The State Department says that it has suspended all funding to Colombia's premier air force unit for failing to investigate a bombing that left 18 civilians dead, including seven children in Santo Domingo (Arauca), four years ago, The Times reports.

·José Marcelino Díaz, school teacher and active member of the Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT) is assassinated by suspected paramilitaries in Tame (Arauca).

·Iván Guerrero, Governor of Putumayo and Manuel Alzate, Mayor of Puerto Asís confirm that despite the increased aerial spraying last year there are more than 30,000 hectares of coca crops in Putumayo. Last week Interior and Justice Minister Fernando Londoño claimed there was no more coca in the Department.





·The Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) says that despite the intentions of the Colombian Government, an amnesty on cases against the leaders of the paramilitaries accused of crimes against International Humanitarian Law will violate the Colombian Constitution and its International treaty obligations, El Tiempo reports.

·Director of the Office of Andean Issues of the State Department, Phil Chicola, denies any contacts with Colombian leaders of the Norte del Valle drug cartel, asking them to hand themselves over the US Justice system.

·Defence Minister Martha Lucía Ramirez calls the US decision to ban any aid to a Colombian Air force unit "inappropriate" and suggests that the move will hurt the war on drugs, Reuters reports.

·Interior Minister Fernando Londoño says the Colombian government is studying an offer to surrender from the country's most powerful drug lords, adding that they will not negotiate a peace deal of the sort offered to the paramilitaries, El Tiempo reports.


Tues 14 – Public Forces raid Medellin's "comunas"; Army officials reject US aid decision.

·Colombian Forces raid the barrios of Medellín for three days, arresting more than 50 people.

·General Hector Velasco, Commander of the Colombian Air Force says that the US decision on certification and the suspension of funding is a "wrong decision, unfair and unjustified for two allied countries", El Tiempo reports.

·Justice Minister Fernando Londoño says the government will present a reform to the Constitution to make the extradition process easier by eliminating the involvement of the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice in the process, El Tiempo reports.

·Interior Minister Fernando Londoño says that the Government will not authorise money for a campaign for abstention in the Referendum. The Frente Social y Politico, trade unions, social and civil movements are getting organised to campaign for abstention, El Colombiano reports.

·The Colombian Army says that FARC uses unwitting hostages to drive car bombs towards targets, after four car bombs exploded last week in Arauca.

·According to the Colombian Army 1,202 guerrilla members were killed and 1,909 more captured last year. Despite the figures, analysts suggest that Uribe Vélez is under growing pressure because none of those captured are main Commanders, El Tiempo reports.


Weds 15 – Arauca's designated Governor resigns; USO reports death threats against leaders.

·Colonel (r) José Palencia, designated by Uribe Vélez as Governor for Arauca's Department under the Rehabilitation Zone, resigns from his post for "security and personal reasons" according to El Tiempo.

·The Oil Workers Union (USO) reports death threats against USO National President Rodolfo Gutierrez and Union leader Edgar Mojica. The USO is in the midst of a labour conflict with state oil corporation ECOPETROL.

·Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that despite President Uribe Vélez's supposed zero-tolerance policy toward any collaboration between government forces and illegal paramilitary groups, numerous credible reports of joint military-paramilitary operations and tolerance for paramilitary activities persisted last year.

·Attorney General's Office orders house arrest of Oil Workers Union (USO) leader Hernando Hernandez.

·Colombian Ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes says, "impunity cannot be the price for peace in Colombia", asking the government to negotiate with transparency with the paramilitaries and ensure the punishment of crimes against humanity committed by this armed group, El Colombiano reports.

·The Colombian Electoral Council (CNE) is studying if the State should or should not finance the campaign for abstention in the referendum.

·An armed person kills Raul Grass, security advisor for the Interior Ministry in Arauca, Police report.

·Colombian government will report FARC to the United Nations for using civilians to drive car bombs to their targets, El Tiempo reports.


Thurs 16 –US Special Forces arrive in Colombia; Car bomb explodes in Medellín killing four.

·Today's arrival of US Special Forces Group in Arauca marks a turning point in US involvement in Colombian's civil war, according to Washington Post. They will train two Colombian army brigades that protect an oil pipeline that carries oil for Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum across northern Colombia.

·A car bomb explodes outside the Attorney General's Office in Medellín, killing four people and wounding 32, El Colombiano reports.

·An unknown armed group attacks a public transport bus near San Carlos (Southern Antioquia), killing four people including a boy, Vanguardia Liberal reports.

·Uribe Vélez asks United States to deploy troops on the Caribbean and Pacific coast "after finishing its work on Iraq" because of the threat of the drugs trade and the scale of the environmental impact in the Amazon Region.

·The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves a two-year US $2.1 b loan to Colombia. In exchange for the credit, the Colombian government must pass reforms to tax, pension, and labour market laws, and has promised to streamline public administration and improve its productivity, Washington Post reports.

·Jorge Noguera, Director of the Administrative Department Security (DAS) says the institution will have a purge after discovering a "leak of information to the FARC" in the Arauca section.



Colombia This Week is a news summary produced and distributed by ABColombia Group. Sources include daily Colombian, US, European and Latin American newspapers, and reports from non-governmental organisations and the UN System. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the ABColombia Group.


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