InfoBrief - March 24, 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 indicating why you would be interested in this weekly news service.


U.S. Current Affairs & Media


·U.S. Lists Colombia as Supporter of War in Iraq On March 19, the White House issued a list of 30 countries, including Colombia, that publicly stated their support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Later that week the White House released a list of 46 countries that supported the war effort militarily, logistically, and/or politically. On March 17, the government of Colombia issued a statement supporting the U.S. effort to dispose of weapons of mass destruction and prevent all forms of terrorism. President Uribe also asserted that Colombia's participation in the coalition would strengthen their position internationally and help them gain allies in their internal fight against illegal armed groups. In addition to Colombia, the other Latin America countries are Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.


·Coca Eradication in Colombia May Be Increasing Production in Peru U.S.-sponsored aerial herbicide spraying in Colombia reduced the number of acres used to cultivate coca by 15 percent last year, according to the CIA. The U.N reported an even higher reduction of coca production, at 30 percent less than last year's total. However, U.S. eradication efforts in Colombia are pressuring the trade to new parts of Colombia and back to Bolivia and Peru, where cultivation increased by eight percent. Coca prices are also rising as Colombian drug traffickers return to Peru's coca-producing Apurimac River Valley. Reports have indicated that coca eradication in Peru are increasing social unrest and the political risks for the Peruvian government.


·IADB Approves $1.25 Billion Loan for Colombia On March 17 the Inter-American Development Bank approved a $1.25 billion emergency loan for Colombia. The loan was given to maintain fiscal stability by mitigating the effects of a macroeconomic stabilization program prompted by the IMF. The IADB loan is designed to protect the poorest sectors of the population through investment in sectors like education and health.


Upcoming Events and Seminars in the U.S.


·On Monday, March 31 between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, Lutheran World Relief, International Human Rights Law Group, and the Internally Displaced Working Group of the Colombia

Steering Committee will be hosting a roundtable discussion on an "Approach to Local Peace Building in Colombia: Reflections from the Ecumenical Experience of Lutheran World Relief and Justapaz." The discussion will take place at the International Human Rights Law Group at

1200 18th Street, NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC. For more information please call 202-626-7947 or email


·On Saturday, April 5, from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm, the Human Rights Program, Chicago Society, the Center for Latin American Studies, International House, the Norman Wait Harris Fund and the Student Government of the University of Chicago will be hosting a conference on Colombia, "Confronting Conflict, Striving Towards Peace." The conference will be held at the International House at the University of Chicago, 1414 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL. The event is free and open to the public. For more information please contact





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


Colombia This Weekediting date: 03/24/03


Fri 14 - Trade Unions report death threats; ELN declares peasant soldiers <military targets>.

·London-based Colombia Peace Association reports new death threats against Trade Union leaders and Coca Cola workers from SINALTRAINAL (Colombian Food and Beverages workers union) in Bucaramanga (Santander) from paramilitaries.

·In a statement on their website, ELN declares that peasant soldiers will be " military targets ", claiming they have been infiltrated by paramilitaries.

·Army reports that nine FARC and ELN guerrillas have been killed and 12 arrested during operations in Antioquia and Sucre departments.

·FARC releases videotape with images of a group of prominent kidnapped politicians. Amongst them, ex-Development Minister and FARC hostage Fernando Araujo appeals for their freedom after two year's captivity, urging the Colombian Government to agree a humanitarian accord.


Sat 15 -Government to sell off EMCALI; Attorney General's Office orders the arrest of Marulanda.

·Caracol TV reports a verbal confrontation between Uribe Vélez and Trade Unionist Lucho Hernandez (SINTRAEMCALI) during a public debate. The President announces the Government's plans to liquidate EMCALI (Public Services Corporation) and sell it off despite early promises made to the workers to maintain the community-led services.

·Colombian NGO Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos Unidad y Reconstruccion (ANUC-UR) and 170 displaced families from Hacienda Bellacruz celebrate the decision of the Attorney General's office to re-arrest ex-Ambassador Carlos Arturo Marulanda on charges of organising paramilitary groups.

·The bulletin of the Colombian Ministry of Development "Numbers of Violence" reports that between 1996 and 2001 Colombia registered one killing every 20 minutes, one person internally displaced every five minutes and one kidnap every three hours. It also reports that 155,843 people were killed in Colombia in the last six years.

·Justice for Colombia and the Colombia Peace Association announce a London-based Conference on "Conflict in Colombia: Repression, Resistance and Chances for Peace". Professor James Petras, editor of VOZ' newspaper Carlos Lozano and former Central Trade Union Federation (CUT leader ) Gloria Ramirez are among the speakers.


Sun 16 - IDB approves emergency loan; UN: Colombia's coca cultivation down in 2002.

·The Inter-American Development Bank announces the approval of a US $1.25 billion emergency loan to Colombia designed to maintain fiscal stability while protecting social reform projects.

·Director of the UN Office on Drug and Crime Antonio Maria Costa reports that coca cultivation in Colombia dropped by 30% in 2002. He also adds that this decline will subtract over 100 tons of cocaine from world markets.

·Four French-language NGO's, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organization against Torture (OMCT), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Lawyers without Borders (ASF) announce in Paris that Uribe Velez's security reforms will "reinforce the impunity against civilians".

·In its Bulletin Pertinentes Programa de Paz y Desarrollo del Magdalena Medio (PDPMM) reports that the Diocese of Barrancabermeja and the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECI) have signed 10 new community projects on fishing, seeds and educational workshops.

·President's Office announces that civilians from the network of informers have been paid 9 m pesos (US $ 3,115) by the National Police in Cundinamarca, Caldas, Cesar and Huila.



Mon 17 -Government reports advance on Human rights; Credhos supports regional Ombudsman

·According to the report on human rights violations in Colombia presented by the Government and based on Police figures, the number of assassinations, massacres and selective killings decreased in 2002, El Colombiano reports.

·Regional human rights organisation Credhos makes an appeal for the support of the regional Defensor del Pueblo Jorge Gomez Lizarazo, after he received death threats from paramilitary groups.

·Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Nina Pacari says that FARC, ELN and paramilitary groups are controlling Colombian borders. She also announces the re-enforcement of Ecuadorian troops in the area.

·Commander of Police Luis Eduardo Herrera reports that authorities have discovers nine car bombs in different locations in Cundinamarca and the outskirts of Bogotá.

·Two suspected FARC members are killed during fighting in El Retorno (Guaviare).

·2,000 people met in La Ceja (Antioquia) to acknowledge former Bishop of the Sonsón-Rionegro diocese, Flavio Calle, for his commitment to the work for peace in the region. He has been appointed new Bishop of the Ibague Diocese.

·After meeting with Juan Carlos Lecompte, (husband of Ingrid Betancourt), in Bogotá, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton reports on the efforts made by Venezuela to obtain the freedom of former Presidential candidate and FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt El Tiempo reports.

·Vice-President Francisco Santos speaks at the inaugural session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He calls on the human rights community "to focus attention on how Human rights violations are defined, since armed groups, guerrilla movements and trans-national organised crime groups violate human rights on a daily basis".

·Colombian Attorney General Luis Camilo Ossorio reports that more than 50,000 Colombian women are working abroad, victims of the mafia and " the white slave trade". He says that this crime is the third most common in Colombia after the drugs trade and the arms trade.


Tues 18 - UN: Colombian forces are committing more abuses; 5 policemen die in road accident

·UN Office on Human Rights in Colombia reports that since Uribe Vélez decreed the State of Emergency, the security forces have committed more human rights abuses, adding that the government is not doing enough to break links between army and the paramilitaries.

·Police Commander Jaime Leal reports five officers and one driver dead after a road accident in Rioacha (La Guajira).

·Army officials' report 19 guerrilla members handed in their arms to the Colombian Army in Antioquia, benefiting from the government's demobilisation plans, El Colombiano reports.

·Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos says at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva that his government "will not stop" organising civilians in the so-called "network of informers" and "peasant soldiers" despite the criticisms of Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

·British Ambassador in Colombia Tom Duggin grants $35 m pesos (12,000 US$) for homes for 45 families in Putumayo.

·15 municipalities in Caquetá and 15 more in Huila are without electricity after un-known armed group explodes a bomb in a power station.

·UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello says in Geneva that the UN is concerned by Uribe Velez's proposal to concede judicial powers to the Colombian Armed Forces.

·Police in Medellín report that under "Operacion Manantial" 12 suspected paramilitaries were arrested in San Cristobal. They reportedly were involved in kidnapping and robbery, El Colombiano reports.

·Gunmen kill journalist Luis Eduardo Alfonso Parada outside his office in Arauca (Rehabilitation Zone). He is the second journalist from the local "Radio Meridiano" killed, reportedly by paramilitaries.


Weds 19 - UN reports violations on Human rights; Uribe Vélez gives US support in war on Iraq

·The special report of the UN Office for Human Rights in Colombia highlights "serious, massive and systematic" human rights abuses against Colombians in 2002. According to the UN Office officials under the so-called "Security Policy" of Uribe Vélez's administration committed most of these violations.

·Colombian Government announces in a public statement that Colombia fully supports the United States and Britain in the use of force against Iraq.

·The local Human Rights Office (Personería) in San Francisco (Antioquia) reports that armed groups forcibly displaced 500 people from this municipality.

·US Defence department offers US$ 300,000 reward and "a new life in United States" for information leading to the rescue of the three Americans captured by FARC in Caquetá.

·According to Asobancaria (Association of Colombian Banks) US $ 314m were moved out of the country by Colombians in the first two months of 2003.

·The Peace community of San José de Apartadó reports the death of a three-year-old girl after a group of soldiers broke into the settlement in La Cristalina, injuring another peasant.

·Luis Perez, Mayor of Medellín says that 120 people from the urban militias and armed groups from the Comunas are participating in the de-mobilisation programme. He asks the government to extend the programme.


Thurs 20 - Colombian Congress criticises support for war; 15 die in landslides across Colombia

·El Tiempo reports that Congressmen from different parties have criticised Uribe Vélez's decision to support the war on Iraq. Colombian Ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes says that the Colombian Constitution underlines that the support of the United Nations is necessary for the use of military force.

·15 people die and 17 are injured after landslides in Colombia. 9 of the victims came from Manizales (Caldas) where 20 more people are still missing. More than 300 people lost their homes after torrential rains, El Tiempo reports.

·Authorities report that FARC and ELN attacked the Police station in Recaurte (Nariño). One civilian and one police officer were injured.

·Urabá Police Commander Yamid Hernando reports the emergency landing of a small plane in Capurganá (Antioquia) with 45 kg of cocaine. He says that the plane had false emblems of the United Nations.

·In an interview in Rome, Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos says "the international community should remember other conflicts after the war on Iraq", asking for "a similar military deployment" to solve the Colombian conflict", Efe reports.


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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