InfoBrief - 9th December 2002


InfoBrief is a weekly news summary of events in the US and Colombia produced and distributed by the US Office on Colombia. Colombia This Week is reproduced with the kind permission of the ABColombia Group in London. Other sources include US and Latin American newspapers, and reports from non-profit and grassroots groups. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the US Office on Colombia. If you would like to receive InfoBrief please contact indicating why you would be interested in this weekly news service.


US Current Affairs & Media


·US Threats of Extradition May be Factor in AUC Ceasefire The Financial Times reported on December 5th that the AUC may be hoping that their unlimited and unilateral ceasefire, which began on December 1st, will deter the extradition of their members to the United States. The ceasefire was announced after weeks of secret negotiations with Luis Carlos Restrepo, Colombia's peace commissioner. Several paramilitary leaders, including Carlos Castano, are presently facing indictment on charges of drug smuggling, according to the US Attorney General's office.


·US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Visits Colombia Powell met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez and other top Colombian officials on December 4th. Powell confirmed that the U.S. will continue to support Colombia in its fight against left-wing guerrillas and drug trafficking, and reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to the war on terrorism. Powell also stressed the importance of an improvement in the Colombian military's human rights record. He is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Colombia since President Clinton's short trip in August 2000.


·U.S. Drug Czar Emphasizes Link Between Terrorism and Drug War John P. Walters, the U.S. Drug Czar reaffirmed Washington's policy at a ceremony of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission in Mexico, by stating 'We need to stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars to brutal violent groups in Mexico and Colombia and in our own country'.


·Colombian Drug Cartel Leader Extradited to U.S. Victor Patino Fomeque, nicknamed 'the Chemist', was extradited to the U.S. on December 6th on charges of conspiracy to ship cocaine to the United States and of money laundering. Fomeque, the first leader of the Cali cartel to be extradited to the U.S., may be helpful in providing evidence against the cartel's former chief, and Fomeque's former prison mate, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela. U.S. authorities are attempting to prove that Orejuela organized drugs operations from his prison cell, to be able to extradite him to the United States.


·Losing Colombian Presidential Candidate Offered Post in Washington According to Colombian government spokesman Ricardo Galan, Horacio Serpa, former leader of the Liberal Party and defeated Presidential candidate, was offered the Colombian ambassadorship to the Organization of American States (OAS), based in Washington D.C., by President Alvaro Uribe at a meeting held last week at the presidential palace. Serpa was defeated in spring's presidential elections, after an intense campaign, in which he accused Uribe of having connections with the paramilitaries and of promoting the internal conflict. Former Vice President Humberto de la Calle, who currently holds the position, announced his resignation, after the offer was made public. Serpa has yet to clarify his intentions.


Upcoming Events and Seminars in the USA


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Colombia This Weekediting date: 12/13/02


Fri 06 - Trade Unionist detained in Bucaramanga; Reportedly no progress on ELN peace talks.

·Six trade unionists and community leaders are detained accused of rebellion in Bucaramanga, following raids by the CTI (Judicial Police) and agents from DAS. In a statement the Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, raises concerns about the continuing raids against civil organisations.

·According to El Tiempo, spokesman for ELN declares that there has been no progress in dialogue with the Government due to the lack of any credible peace policies from the Uribe Vélez Government.

·In a letter sent to Uribe Vélez, Colombian NGO Justicia y Paz express fears for the safety of member Danilo Rueda, who received new death-threats this week.

·According to Washington Post, Colombian drug lords earned more than US$80m last year selling life insurance policies from company based in Isle of Man.

·Tim Wichert, from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada says that the Canadian Government can only attend to one in five of applications from asylum seekers. He asks for more resources to sponsor this programme.


Sat 07 - Colombian cities controlled by Paramilitaries; Amnesty criticises "Democratic Security"

·The Observatory for the Colombian Presidential Programme on Human Rights reports that paramilitaries are largely in control of urban cities like Medellín, Barrancabermeja, Montería, Apartadó, Turbo and Cúcuta.

·Susan Lee from Amnesty International considers that civilians are at greater risk in Colombia under the Democratic Security policies of Uribe Vélez's government.

·Defensor del Pueblo, Eduardo Cifuentes says that public knowledge about the rights of Colombian IDPs is poor, and that his office will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in order to increase understanding and ensure their fulfilment.

·Colombian NGO Orivac (Organizacion Regional Indigena del Valle) appeals for the presence of human rights organisations and the State after unknown armed group kills 4 members of the indigenous community in Florida (Valle) last week.

·Army reports the death of 7 ELN members during an attack in Salto El Lipa, (Arauca) when they were reportedly trying to destroy the oil pipeline of Caño Limón with gas cylinders.

·Vanguardia Liberal reports that AUC faction Bloque Central Bolívar hands over 13 minors to the civil authorities in Santander.

·Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Gustavo Cano announces plans to expropriate one million hectares of land from drug traffickers and armed groups and give them to peasants and IDPs

·Police report the killing of Olinto Mieles Soler by AUC members in La Chimera, (Santander).


Sun 08- US expects resolutions on Human Rights cases; Three bombs explode in Medellín.

·According to El Tiempo, Alex Lee, political adviser in the US Embassy in Colombia says US government is expecting resolutions in cases against Army officers accused of involvement in human rights violations before any further commitment can be made on military aid for Colombian Armed Forces.

·Three bombs explode in front of the offices of a lottery company in Medellín. No people were injured.

·Gustavo Gallón from the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) says the Government should prioritise the security of those civilians affected by forced displacement after official figures grows to 2.7 million IDPs

·Colombian NGO Credhos (Regional Committee for the Defence of Human Rights) reports the continuing humanitarian crisis in Magdalena Medio, insisting the only way to peace is through justice and calling the UN to intervene more actively to improve the critical condition of civilians.

·Attorney General's Office charges two Army officials from the intelligence corps of IX Brigade in Neiva for the killing of a suspected FARC member that reportedly deserted with US$200,000.

·While visiting Colombia for the first time, President of Chile Ricardo Lagos insists on the need to use democratic methods and dialogue to solve the internal conflict that affects Colombia and threatens the stability of the Andean region.


Mon 09 - Car bomb in Bogotá, 58 wounded; IMF supports Uribe's policies.

·A car packed with 110 pounds of explosives explodes in a supermarket parking lot in Bogotá, injuring 58 people and shattering windows blocks away.

·International Monetary Fund chief Horst Koehler gives a firm backing to Uribe Vélez's security agenda, which calls for $1 billion in defence spending hikes, according to the Washington Post

·Colombian Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights fears for the safety of Alvaro Tapias and Julio Avella, members of the Colombian NGO Andas detained without charge in a prison in Bucaramanga after their homes were raid by the Colombian Army, the Police and a fiscal.

·According to El Colombiano, 28 paramilitaries are killed in clashes between FARC and AUC members in Tierradentro (Córdoba).

·The Chicago News says that although Uribe Vélez' aggressive tactics have made some progress, the US involvement in Colombia should prioritise peace negotiations as the solution to the conflict.


Tues 10 - UN warns not to approve judicial powers for Army; AI reports on Human rights

·UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Michael Frühling reminds the Colombian Congress that measures such as the provision of judicial police powers to the security forces are not compatible with the International Agreements signed by the Colombian State.

·Amnesty International says in a new report that the measures introduced by the Colombian government undermine the human rights guarantees contained in the 1991 Constitution. Measures include the weakening of the Ombudsman's Office and local State human rights structures (Personerías), the limitation of writs of protection (tutelas), as well as the restriction of human rights imposed within the framework of the state of internal commotion.

·A special Commission from the Attorney Generals Office visits the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó to investigate crimes against villagers. More than 100 civilians from this peace community have been killed since the Peace Community's foundation in 1997.

·Carlos Franco, Presidential Adviser on Human Rights says that the Governmental Democratic Security strategy is intended to protect the rights of the civilians against armed groups, despite allegations of abuses in some of the urban operations carried out in Arauca by the Colombian Army; he also says that any violations on human rights will be investigated.

·Colombian NGO Asdeh (Asociacion Democrática para la defensa de los Derechos Humanos) condemns the attack and methods used by suspected FARC members in Bogotá.

·Bomb explodes in front of a Caracol Radio station in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander).


Weds 11 - EU concerned for human rights in Colombia; France awards prize to MINGA.

·The European Union Council of Ministers made a statement expressing deep concerns on Human Rights in Colombia and renewing support for Uribe Vélez's efforts on peace negotiations.

·Colombian NGO MINGA (Asociacion para la Promoción Social Alternativa) has been awarded the International Price for Human Rights of the French Republic for its work on promoting Human Rights in Colombian conflict areas.

·The Head Office of the Colombian Army announces the formation of a new Army Division (VI) that will patrol the frontiers between Brazil, Perú and Colombia along the Amazon river.

·The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) sign contracts for US $1 m on aid for School Programmes in Cartagena, Mompox and Popayán, benefiting more than 200 new students.

·Procuraduría General lays charges against Jaime Enrique Perico Alvarez, Director of DAS (Administrative Department for Security) in Casanare, for reportedly employing personnel convicted for crimes of torture.

·International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) counts 504 infractions against Humanitarian International Law (DIH) this year, underlining that the Humanitarian situation is worsening in Colombia, affecting more civilians than in previous years.

·Defense Minister Marta Lucía Ramirez says the Police have narrowly thwarted an attack on the nation's capital by defusing five powerful remote-control car bombs, El Tiempo reports.

·Colombian NGO Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres reports the killing of 292 women in Valle de Aburrá (Antioquia) between Jan - October this year, denouncing legal and illegal armed groups for the use of sexual violence.

·Uribe Vélez cancels a public appearance at a hotel in Medellín after Police report that FARC members were planning to assassinate him.


Thurs 12- Security forces raid NGO office; Paramilitaries ask UN to accompany peace talks

·Judicial Police (DIJIN) and Army troops raid the offices of Centro de Atencion Psicosocial para niños, niñas y jóvenes víctimas del conflicto, a project financed by NGO Terre des Hommes-Italy and the European Union in Bogotá. Reports say the authorities did not confiscate any material, but NGOs accuse the authorities of attempting to intimidate civil society organisations.

·In a public letter to James LeMoyne, Special Adviser on Colombia to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Carlos Castaño asks United Nations to accompany the peace process of the paramilitaries and the Colombian state.

·According to El Colombiano six paramilitaries are detained by Army forces in Comuna 13 (Medellín) under the Operation Orion

·Defensor del Pueblo, Eduardo Cifuentes reports that paramilitaries and guerrillas have killed 4 indigenous leaders from Wiwa and Kankuamo communities in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Magdalena).

·In a public statement Colombian NGO's protest against arbitrary proceedings and accuse the authorities of attempting to intimidate civil society organisations after Juan Carlos Celis is detained in Bogotá.

·Police report two new car bombs in Bogotá raising the total number this week to six, Defence Minister Marta Lucía Ramirez says.

·Mario Montoya, Commander at the Fourth Brigade in Medellín dismisses the information of an assassination attempt against Uribe Vélez on Monday as a false alarm, El Colombiano reports.

·The Colombian Red Cross (CRC) asks national and international donors to raise more money to maintain 13,500 active volunteers and 2,400 employees working around the country.


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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Colombia This Week is reproduced with the kind permission of the ABColombia Group in London


If you live in the USA and would like to receive InfoBrief please contact, indicating why you would be interested in this weekly news service.