I’ve got an article from April 25’s ‘El Tiempo’, Colombia’s national newspaper, in front of me. Apparently Uribe, Colombia’s President, has a bright new plan: he’s going to — escalate the war!
The plan is to send 14-15000 soldiers into the south of the country. There have been dozens of meetings with the State Department and the Southern Command of the US to this end.
The article ends with a few questions. How will all this be financed? If forces are transferred into guerrilla territories, how will the rest of the country be controlled? What if the guerrillas just hide?
One could add a few more. How could this be anything other than a disaster for the population? Will paramilitaries follow the army, as they always do? Will this result in more massacres, as it inevitably does? Is this a pretext for an increase of US troops in the region? Is there anything suspicious in the timing of a major operation and a buildup for one around the same time as Colombia has made threatening noises towards Venezuela?
For a preview of what Plan Patriota will look like on the ground, take a look at this report on what they’ve been doing in Arauca, that comes via the Colombia Support Network.
The Arauca Regional Foundation Committee of Human Rights ‘Joel Sierra’ denounces, repudiates and repels before the national and international public opinion, by way of the Arauca Network and national and international, non-governmental defenders of Human Rights. Also before the organizations of justice and control of the Colombian State the following acts which fills the Araucan community with mourning, pain and anxiety:
1.) On Thursday April 14, 2004 Senor Jose Alfonso Preciado Cruz was assassinated in the city of Arauca. Senor Preciado Cruz was employed as a driver of a public service taxi affiliated with Radiotax. Unknown persons committed this act.
2.) On the same day, April 14, 2004, Senor Carlos Silva Chovo was also killed in the village of LaPaz of the municipality of Arauquita. At this time nothing is known of the motives or the persons who committed this crime.
3.) Sunday, April 18, 2004 in the downtown section of Tame, at approximately 2:00 p.m. Moises Mojica Cerenza and Yolanda Duarte, 30 years old, were executed. The authors of the crime are unknown.
4.) On Sunday April 18, 2004 Senora Anadelina Lizcano Fonteilio was killed by gunfire on the road to Tame from Arauca.
5.) On April 19, 2004 in downtown Arauquita, Nelson Mogollon was killed by unknown assailants.
6.) Senor Pablo Antonio Lemus Sepeda, 45, and his son Javier Andres Lemus, 23, who had been illegally detained because they were presumed to be members of AUC,( a paramilitary group known as the Autodefensas of Colombia) were left free, and the other person detained with them Maria Elena Giraldo Herrera, was disappeared.
7.) In the municipality of Saravena on the top of the bridge located in the Hamlet Bajo Pescado on the way to Saravena-Pamplona, Alicio Aveldano Castro was assassinated on April 20.
8.) The community of Saravena is terrorized and in this state they have received various phone calls which tell of masked persons carrying heavy arms who are patrolling various barrios of the municipality. They were informed on Sunday that these persons were seen on the edges of the barrio Pablo Antonio.
9.) All of these acts which have left more than 15 dead in one month, illegal retentions, civil patrols, arbitrary detentions, etc. are occurring in the moment since the military and civil authorities are questioning the recent report of Amnesty International over Arauca and they only confirm that this report on Human Rights Violations in Arauca is well founded.
10.) We demand that the organizations of justice and control of the Colombian State investigate and sanction those responsible for these acts, which are being presented on repeated occasions and which increase the index of violations of Human Rights and impunity in our department of Arauca.
11.) We call upon the Defender of Human Rights Organizations, both national and international, the Colombian Office of the High Commission of Human Rights of the United Nations that a continuation and evaluation of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Rights be realized for that which is happening in our region.
FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIFE, THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND PERMANENCE IN THE TERRITORY
REGIONAL FOUNDATION COMMITTEE OF HUMAN RIGHTS ‘JOEL SIERRA’
Our social action is legal and legitimate.
Please send this action to the following people:
S.E. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Presidente de la República, Cra. 8 n°.7-26,
Palacio de Nariño, Santa fe de Bogotá. Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71 e-mail:
· Doctor Jorge Alberto Uribe Ministro de la Defensa,Avenida El Dorado con
Cra. 52 CAN, Santa fe de Bogotá. Fax: (+57 1)222.18.74; E-mail :
email@example.com ;firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
· Dr. Carlos Franco, Director del Programa Presidencial de DerechosHumanos
y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario. E-mail :firstname.lastname@example.org
-Your representative and senators
COLOMBIA DESK STATE DEPARTMENT
Tel (202)647 3360
200 Constitution Ave N.w.
Washington d.C. 20210
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621