InfoBrief - October 13, 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. NGOs Express Support for the Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace On the occasion of the fourth national plenary of the Colombian Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace, which took place October 9-11, a group of U.S.-based NGOs issued a statement in support of the Assembly and its efforts to promote peace and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. The U.S. Office on Colombia and other NGOs noted the timeliness of the plenary, in light of continued challenges to the recognition and observance of international humanitarian law and the persecution of human rights defenders. In addition to voicing their support of the Assembly, the organizations called on the Colombian government to protect all civilians and to pursue a negotiated settlement to the conflict and urged guerrillas and paramilitaries to commit to a cease-fire and demobilization. Lastly, the statement encouraged the U.S. government to place greater emphasis on economic and social assistance to Colombia, rather than military aid. The NGO statement is available online at:


Drug Czar John Walters Announces U.S. Refusal to Negotiate with Kidnappers On October 9, the director of the U.S. Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), John Walters, stated that the United States will “not negotiate” with the leftist FARC guerrillas who have kidnapped three U.S. defense contractors. Walters’s pronouncement came as a response to the October 8 airing of an interview with the three kidnapped men, who have been held by the FARC since February, on the CBS Program “60 Minutes II.” The interview was obtained by a freelance Colombian journalist in July and shows the captives pleading for authorities to negotiate their release and not risk a rescue, saying they would likely die in the attempt. More information is available online at: (Spanish) and at: (English).


United Nations Education Envoy Condemns Use of Child Informants in Armed Conflict After paying a 10-day visit to Bogotá and Quibdo (located in the Western region of Chocó), United Nations (UN) Education Envoy Katarina Tomasevski denounced the use of children as informants by combatants in the country’s armed conflict. Tomasevski, speaking at a press conference on October 9, objected to the fact that children are encouraged to provide information about their teachers and other students’ families to right-wing paramilitary groups and the police, stating that, “Children have the right to be protected from being used as combatants.” Colombian Education Minister Cecilia Velez confirmed the UN envoy’s report, but noted that children are used by all conflicting parties, including the leftist guerrillas. More information is available online at:


U.S. General Reports Improvements in Performance of Colombian Armed Forces Brigadier General Benjamin Dixon, director of operations for U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), told The Miami Herald on October 8 that Colombia’s U.S.-trained Armed Forces have improved in combating drug trafficking and guerrilla activity in the last year. Mixon predicted that the Armed Forces’ pressure will force the leftist FARC guerrillas to consider peace negotiations within the next 12 to 18 months, citing recent bombings in urban areas as evidence of a “movement to terrorism,” supposedly indicative of the FARC’s inability to maintain their traditional military-type operations. More information is available online at:


Upcoming Events and Seminars in the U.S.


The Colombia Media Project will host its Fall Conference, entitled “Colombia: Communication, Conflict and Democracy” in New York City on October 17-19. For more information, contact the Colombia Media Project at (212) 802-7209 or


*Note – There is no CTW for this week. We apologize for any inconvenience.



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