InfoBrief- August 4, 2003
InfoBrief is a weekly news summary of events in the U.S. and Colombia produced and distributed by the U.S. Office on Colombia. Colombia This Week is reproduced with the kind permission of the ABColombia Group in London. Other sources include U.S. and Latin American newspapers, and reports from non-profit and grassroots groups. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Office on Colombia. If you would like to receive InfoBrief please contact email@example.com indicating why you would be interested in this weekly news service.
U.S. Current Affairs & Media
· U.S. Drug Czar Outlines Developments in Colombian Counter-Narcotics Efforts A week after his visit to Colombia, John Walters, Director of the U.S. Office on National Drug Control Policy, reported that Colombia has made progress in the fight against drugs and terrorism in a briefing at the Foreign Press Center on July 29. Walters cited significant decreases in coca cultivation a reduction of 97% in Putumayo between 2001 and 2003 and terrorist attacks, which reportedly fell 53% between January and June of 2003, as compared to 2002. But when asked about recent State Department documents noting only an eight percent decrease in coca cultivation in the Andean region and State Department projections of increases in overall Andean coca production in coming years, Walters referred to such figures as a lot of cow manure. The Drug Czar remains confident that we expect to see in the next six to nine months significant disruptions in the purity and availability of cocaine throughout the world. The full briefing is available online at: http://fpc.state.gov/22857.htm.
· Colombia Takes Strides Towards Improving Military Justice On July 29, U.S. and Colombian officials inaugurated the first Colombian Judge Advocate General (JAG) school in Bogotá. The U.S.-designed program aims to improve justice and accountability among the Colombian Armed Forces, who have a poor human rights record and maintain ties to right-wing paramilitary forces. Funding for the school is provided by Plan Colombia, which has cost the U.S over $2.5 billion in the last three years. Two and a half million dollars of those funds were allotted for the creation of the JAG corps, which the U.S. will continue to support for the next two years. More information is available online at: http://www.sptimes.com/2003/07/30/ Worldandnation/Justice_rides_in_on_b.shtml.
· Colombian Senators Request Suspension of U.S. Extradition Orders Next week Colombian Senators, led by Senator Carlos Moreno de Caro, are expected to introduce a motion to request that the United States lift the extradition orders for right-wing paramilitary leaders Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso, according to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. Moreno de Caro and his supporters believe that in order to effectively demobilize some 13,000 AUC paramilitaries by December of 2005, as an agreement made on July 15 aims to do, the United States must suspend or eliminate the extradition orders to allow the Colombian and not the U.S. justice system to deal with the paramilitary chiefs. Other Members of the Colombian Congress, such as Representative Gustavo Petro, are convinced that lifting the orders will not serve to achieve peace in Colombia, and therefore staunchly oppose the measure. More information is available online at: http://eltiempo.terra.com.co /coar/noticias/ARTICULO-WEB-_NOTA_INTERIOR-1198819.html.
· Senator Grassley and Colleagues Seek U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement In a letter sent August 1 to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Finance Committee, requested the consideration of a U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement. Grassley cited Colombias large economy, increasing U.S.-Colombia trade up 23 percent in the first quarter of 2003 and continuing Colombian efforts to bring peace and the rule of law to the country as the impetus for the bilateral agreement. Senators Bob Grahm (D-FL), Trent Lott (R-MS), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Breaux (D-LA) co-signed the letter with Sen. Grassley. The full text of the letter is available online at: http://www.colombiaemb.org/news.htm.
Upcoming Events and Seminars in the U.S.
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*Note Due to an ABColombia staff trip to Colombia, there is no CTW for this week, nor will there be one next week. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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