Colombia This Week editing date 06/09/03


Fri 30 – Bishop from Tolima detained in army raid; UN to get more involved in Colombia.

· The Attorney General's Office has accused Catholic Bishop Jose Luis Serna Alzate and Mayor of Vistahermosa (Tolima) Jesus Giraldo alongside 17 others of collaboration with armed groups. The Governor of Tolima protests that armed groups sometimes force local officials to meet commanders in humanitarian missions and kidnap ransoms.

· UN Secretary General Koffi Annan shows interest in the request made by the Head of the States in the Rio group meeting for a proposal for a peaceful way out of the armed Colombian conflict.


Sat 31 – Doubts on extradition processes to the US; FARC criticises Uribe for manipulating news

· According to El Colombiano, 25% of the people extradited to United States during the Uribe presidency have returned to Colombia with no charges. Lawyers say the government is violating basic human rights by extraditing people with no proof of their guilt.

· In a statement on their website, FARC criticises President Uribe Velez for manipulating the international community with regard to the peace initiatives and the possibility of a humanitarian agreement with this armed group.

· According to police figures, 9,881 violent killings took place in Colombia between January and May 2003.

· Following the attack on an Ecopetrol pumping station in Teteyé (Putumayo) and subsequent confrontation between the Colombian army and FARC, 238 people flee to Pueblo Nuevo in Ecuadorian territory

Sun 01 –Indigenous organisation reports displacement to Ecuador; number of refugees rising.

· According to the figures of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), 500 families from 12 indigenous towns of Putumayo have abandoned their lands as a result of the fumigation campaign and the presence of armed groups in their communities, crossing the border to Ecuador as refugees.

· The Annual Report of the Jesuit Refugee Service states that Colombia has the second highest number of IDPs in the world, with 400,000 new IDPs in 2002, and 100,000 more people who left the country to escape violence. NGOs in Colombia are calling on the government for a plan to tackle displacement, Reuters reports.


Mon 02 - Bomb explodes in Granada, four killed; peasant soldiers targeted by armed groups.

· A bomb explodes on the streets of Granada (Antioquia) as police and soldiers pass by, killing four people. Eleven civilians and two soldiers are wounded. Police blame FARC for the attack.

· Three months after the launch of the "peasants soldiers" into the isolated rural areas of Colombia, indigenous Senator Efrén Tarapuez denounces irregularities and abuses concerning the forced recruitment of 250 indigenous people in the Cauca region. Colombian NGO Planeta Paz says that those involved in the initiative and their families are being threatened by armed groups.


Tue 03- Paramilitary spar on peace talks; Londoño threatens Congress regarding political reform.

· Colombia's main paramilitary group attacks a paramilitary faction that refuses to participate in the cease-fire and ongoing peace talks with the government. The leader of the dissident group, known as Rodrigo, reports two fighters were killed in combats in Montebello (Antioquia).

· Colombian government threatens members of Congress that if they approve the political reform, the government will call for an alternative popular referendum to challenge this.

· Days after the Rio Group Meeting held in Cuzco (Perú), Venezuela's ambassador in Bogotá, Carlos Rodrigo Santiago says that the final declaration of Cuzco assumes support for an international military intervention in Colombia. President Hugo Chavez says that his country would oppose any reopening of the issue in the upcoming meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly.

Weds 04 - US Congress reluctant to pay anti-drug campaign; Colombia defends it despite costs.

· Colombian officials fear the Bush administration may come under pressure from US Congress to cut back on Plan Colombia. Visiting the US, Vice-President Francisco Santos says at the US Senate that aerial spraying has eliminated 30% of coca cultivation in 2002 and should cut it by 50% this year.

· A report by the General Accounting Office, US Congress' investigative arm, has queried the cost-effectiveness of Plan Colombia. The report cited "unanticipated problems" in training army pilots and mechanics to operate and maintain US-supplied helicopters. The cost of aerial spraying has doubled over the last five years, and ongoing programmes alone may cost up to US$ 230 m a year, Financial Times reports.

· French citizen Sylvie Cabero and Colombian Angela María Medina are freed by the Colombian Army in a routine traffic stop near Bogotá after been kidnapped by an unknown armed group. Three men were arrested.


Thurs 05- Anti-narcotics patrol to resume; Bishop announces progress in paramilitary talks.

· US officials are to re-start the anti narcotics air patrols programme in Colombia. Legislators and watchdog groups fear that a private company, Arinc, will serve as a key participant once the programme gets underway. Jason Hagen from the Washington Office on Latin America argues that accountability will become muddled if a contractor is involved in decisions about whether to shoot down a plane, .the Miami Herald reports.

· The Bishop from the diocese of Montería, Julio César Vidal, announces that paramilitaries are de-mobilising 100 under-age soldiers. According to the Bishop, this could lead to the next stage of the peace talks with the government.


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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