Colombia This Week -- May 19, 2003

Fri 09 - Four killed and one injured in FARC's offensive in Valle del Cauca region.

· Three security officials are killed in a bomb attack on a water treatment facility in Aguablanca (Cali). Police also report one officer killed and one soldier injured in a separate attack on a police outpost protecting the Calima hydroelectric plant. They report that much of south-western Colombia is without power, El Espectador writes.

· Gunmen shoot at a domestic plane flying between Villavicencio to La Macarena (Meta). SABENA reports that none of the 18 people aboard were injured and the plane landed safely.


Sat 10 - Policemen killed in bomb attack in Saravena; US pays for secret files on foreign citizens.

· The army's 18th Brigade reports that armed groups detonated a remote-control bomb in Saravena (Arauca) as a police patrol approached, killing one police officer and wounding one policeman and three civilians.

· The Guardian reports that governments across Latin America have launched investigations after revelations that the US company ChoicePoint is obtaining extensive personal data about millions of citizens in the region and selling it to the Bush administration. In the case of Colombia, the company is offering the national registry file of all adult Colombians.


Sun 11 - Figures show most US heroin comes from Colombia; Uribe loses wallet in robbery.

· Associated Press reports that newly released figures suggest that Colombia accounts for most of the heroin in the United Sates, far more than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration. Despite previous reports from the US agency DEA, (Drug Enforcement Administration), that only one third of heroin consumed in the USA comes from Colombia, the new figures suggest that Colombia is responsible for 13 out of the total 18 metric tons of heroin that drug officials estimate Americans consume every year.

· Colombia's law-and-order president lost his wallet in Bucaramanga (Santander). Authorities captured two suspects in possession of the wallet containing the president's identification, credit card and a note with the card's secret number. US $ 4,200 had been withdrawn within hours, El Tiempo reports.


Mon 12 - Colombia threatens Nicaragua on oil; EU to prioritise anti-terrorist agenda in Colombia

· Defence Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez warns that Colombia is prepared to use force if Nicaragua begins to explore for oil near the San Andres archipelago in the Caribbean. Nicaragua has granted oil exploration concessions to four US oil companies, El Tiempo reports.

· Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ana Palacio, says in Bogotá that Colombia is a priority for Spain and for the EU in the fight against terrorism. She also noted that her government would insist on the elaboration of a worldwide list of terrorist organisations that would help tighten the siege on these groups. In relation to the donation of Mirage F-10 airplanes to Colombia, Palacio said that the matter falls under the responsibility of the defence ministries, stating that her country remains disposed to offer aid in all areas.

· President of the Euro-American Foundation Tristan Garel-Jones says that the EU understands the "new" Colombian reality, and expresses solidarity in the fight against narcotrafficking and terrorism. However, he acknowledged that in this struggles human rights need to be respected.


Tues 13- Fears rise for US hostages; Londoño: Colombia to finish cocaine's production this year.

· Relatives of the three Americans held by FARC call on the Colombian Army to "learn from its mistakes and to be more careful in carrying out further rescues". FARC had said the captives would be freed along with dozens of politicians, soldiers and police in exchange for guerrillas being held in jails.

· Interior Minister Fernando Londoño tells European representatives that the US-backed crop-spraying program could destroy Colombia's opium poppies within two months, adding that his country will cease to be a big cocaine exporter by the end of the year, Reuters reports.


Weds 14 -NY Times calls to monitor human rights in Colombia; Uribe asks Europe for military aid

· An editorial at the New York Times calls on the Bush administration not to disregard its legal responsibility to monitor Colombia's human rights record. It also calls for withholding military aid if patterns of abuse continue to emerge, as new signs of collusion between military commanders and paramilitary groups have been reported in recent months.

· In a meeting with representatives from political and economic sectors of the European Union (EU) in Bogotá, Uribe Vélez says, "we need military co-operation, whether or not it is bilateral". Uribe also says that his policy of Democratic Security seeks to end decades of appeasement of the armed groups According to Colombia's Ambassador in Spain, Noemí Sanín, the aid could be in technology, equipment and intelligence.


Thurs 15 – Blair to support Uribe's administration

· British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Latin America, Bill Rammel, states that "Colombia is a priority in the struggle that the international community has launched against terrorism". Rammel also said that his country's Prime Minister Tony Blair, "is very interested in Colombia and he has promised President Uribe to do everything possible to assist him in this sense".

· Colombian photojournalist Carlos Linares dies in a boat accident on the Putumayo River, southern Colombia. He was working on a project about peasants who had given up growing coca in favour of legal crops, AP 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.

If you would like to be put on the mailing list, please send an email message to the address, indicating why you would be interested in receiving this summary.


ABColombia Group

PO Box 100

London SE1 7RT

Tel: +44-(0)20-7523-2374

Fax: +44-(0)20-7620-0719