The Granda Affair – Roundup from El Tiempo

Jorge Uribe, Colombia’s Foreign Minister, was responsible for offering a bounty on FARC spokesperson Rodrigo Granda’s head – that is apparently what led to Granda’s kidnapping in Caracas in December 2004, which in turn led to a diplomatic crisis between Colombia and Venezuela. Jorge Uribe offered to resign – but that decision is up to another Uribe, this time, Alvaro, the Colombian President. The reward for Granda offered by the Colombian government seems to have been $350,000, an anonymous source told El Tiempo.

Continue reading “The Granda Affair – Roundup from El Tiempo”

Charging Constant

Remember back in 2001 when Bush was saying that there would be no negotiations with the Taliban, who had offered to hand over bin Laden given evidence of his implication in 9/11? Some commentators pointed out that the Taliban were being more reasonable than the US government was with its own harbouring of terrorists. The names of numerous Cubans guilty of terrorism against their own people and residing in Miami came up. Another frequent name was that of Emanuel Constant, a major killer from the Haitian paramilitary heyday 1991-1994, anti-Aristide coup part I.

Continue reading “Charging Constant”

A Foreign Policy Innovation from Canada

An interesting piece on an interesting intellectual idea courtesy of Canadian foreign policy thinkers. This little gem is called ‘proportionate response’ and it is to be applied to Israel.

‘Proportionate response’ is when Israel gets to kill 5,10,40 Palestinians for every Israeli killed in Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing (The ratio since 2000 is about 5:1, the ratio for recent months is much more disparate, which is no doubt pleasing to advocates of ‘proportionate response’). According to the moral and intellectual giants advocating ‘proportionate response’, the doctrine is that “the attacked party must establish the proportionality of its own response.”

This is imprecise. They don’t mean ‘the attacked party’, because if they did, Palestinians would be able to determine the proportionality of their response when attacked, which is certainly not the idea. Too bad Canada doesn’t have a figure like Orwell these folks can look to. He’d be proud: they say ‘proportionate response’ when they mean ‘disproportionate response’.

Who are they, you ask?

Why, they are a large number of the members of Canada’s Liberal Cabinet, of course! Here is their statement.

I learned about this statement because one of these folks is set to become Canada’s new Minister of Immigration, deciding on the life-and-death matters of who gets to stay and who gets deported. This fellow, Joe Volpe, will be replacing Judy Sgro, who went down in scandal (one of those scandals I don’t want to report on because everyone who said anything about it seems to have said something not worth reporting or repeating).

Canada is going to make the US proud one day very soon. Helping in that effort will be Foreign Minister Allan Rock. If you’re in Toronto tomorrow, check him out and ask him about Haiti, Israel/Palestine, SNC-Lavalin’s war profiteering, Afghanistan, Canada’s role in Iraq, or any other thing that comes to mind:

Topic: “Reforming the United Nations: Canada’s Objectives for Change”
Date: Tuesday, January 18th, 2005 at 7:00 pm Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Street) U of Toronto.

Below is a good letter on Volpe and ‘proportionate response’ from some law students.

Dear Prime Minister Martin,

We are law students completing our final year at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. We currently reside in the riding of Mr. Joe Volpe, who was recently sworn in as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. We are writing to you today to express deep reservations regarding his appointment.

As you undoubtedly know, Canada welcomes well over 200,000 immigrants and refugees a year, from dozens of different countries. In addition, Canada grants hundreds of thousands visitor and work visas. These newcomers – whether in Canada permanently or temporarily – enrich Canadian society with their differing cultures, religions and traditions. Moreover, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration plays a significant role in the continuation of Canada’s long-standing tradition of granting asylum to those who flee persecution in their countries of origin. For this purpose, the Ministry has established a complex administrative apparatus to determine whether claimants are in fact bona fide refugees. This administrative framework operates through tribunals and adjudicative officers that apply international law and policy in their decision-making. Hence, any Minister of Citizenship and Immigration requires a balanced and nuanced understanding of, and respect for, international legal instruments and institutions.

It is our opinion that Mr. Volpe lacks both of these qualities. In this regard, we would like to bring your attention to a proposal paper entitled “Canada and the Middle East” (June 6, 2003) to which Mr. Volpe and other members of your cabinet are signatories. This document can be found online through Ms. Carolyn Bennett’s official website and we urge you to review it: In our opinion, this paper exudes the signatories’ deep contempt for, and misunderstanding of, accepted principles of international law. While the Canadian government has regularly condemned the loss of civilian life in the Middle East conflict, whether Palestinian or Israeli, this proposal paper suggests that Canada should redefine its position of ‘proportionate response’ to permit Israel greater discretion in its military operations. In particular, the paper states that “the attacked party must establish the proportionality of its own response,” suggesting that the legality of a particular armed action is to be determined not through international legal standards but through the eyes of the perpetrator. The Fourth Geneva Convention is clear that attacks directed against civilian objects are never justified under the doctrine of proportionality. The definition of “proportionate response” put forward in this paper would have justified Israel’s August 2002 bombing of a crowded apartment complex in Gaza City, the result of which was the death of 14 persons of whom 9 were children; it would also have justified the razing of Jenin in April 2002 for the purpose of rooting out militants. Such a perverse interpretation of the doctrine of proportionality should never become the rule in Canada’s international policy.

A better view is that the killing of a civilian, whatever the nationality, is and must always be condemnable. It is clear that this is beyond the comprehension of those who support this paper.

Furthermore, the paper suggests that Canada should abstain from criticizing the actions of Israel – such as its widely condemned settlement policy – merely because Palestinian aggression is not sufficiently condemned. It also asserts that UN General Assembly resolutions against Israel are “one-sided” for they do not provide “the other side of the story.” Mr. Volpe and the other signatories should be reminded that no atrocity can justify an atrocity in response. The tu quoque principle that underlies this part of the paper has been rejected repeatedly by numerous international bodies including the ICJ, the ICTY and the ICTR. It is our opinion that such an uninformed understanding of international law has no place in a Ministry which is called upon time and time again to interpret and apply international legal instruments.

Finally, the authors of the paper fundamentally misunderstand the nature and role of our international institutions. The UN and its related bodies are democratic institutions in which resolutions are arrived at through majority vote. Unwillingness to accept the UN as a functioning democratic body based on a conspiracy theory that it has been hijacked by “pro-Arab” forces, demonstrates a grave disdain for the United Nations and its role in the international arena. We would like to remind you that the Ministry’s primary international working partner is UNHCR, itself a UN institution, and it is our opinion that the contempt demonstrated in this paper cannot possibly be conducive to a productive working relationship.

We are not suggesting that Members of Parliament be prohibited from expressing their personal political views. We are merely challenging the propriety of this appointment. Even if the proposal paper discussed above is portrayed in the most favourable light, it is still hard to dismiss the fact that Mr. Volpe’s support of it may give rise to an apprehension of bias which could potentially undermine the integrity of the entire Ministry. We do not believe that the Liberal caucus is so starved of capable persons that Mr. Volpe must be appointed to this very important portfolio.

As citizens of the country which has entrusted you with such an important office, we entreat you to reconsider this appointment.

Respectfully yours,

Lucas Lung and Gleb Bazov

CC: Mr. Joe Volpe and other Liberal MP signatories to “Canada and the Middle East” (Ms. C. Bennett, Ms. R. Folco, Ms. M. Jennings, Ms. A. Neville and Mr. J. Peterson); Mr. Jack Layton (NDP); Mr. Stephen Harper (CPC); Mr. Gilles Duceppes (BQ); UNHCR (Canada); UNRWA (Headquarters, Gaza City); Canadian Council for Refugees; Editor, Globe and Mail; Editor, Toronto Star.

What they’re saying about the Granda kidnapping

In an editorial in El Espectador, important Colombian writer Alfredo Molano pointed out that Colombia’s use of bounty hunters and kidnappings has unleashed forces beyond its control. I thought that myself about the extradition of Simon Trinidad. Even the most vicious wars are based on certain understandings – usually these understandings don’t provide protection to the most vulnerable civilians, but instead to the more powerful combatants – that contain a conflict. Each new line that is crossed invites reprisal. Of course the Bush administration is all about crossing lines and demonstrating impunity. They know they won’t pay the price. They know they can spread the price around so that everyone but themselves pay.

Other analysts, like Antonio Guillermo García Danglades, who I don’t know and whose name I don’t recognize, point out that this was more than a deliberate provocation and a violation of Venezuelan sovereignty: it was yet another attempt at destabilizing Venezuela and creating conditions for a conflict with Colombia or simply undermining Venezuela’s ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

Participants of the ‘2nd Bolivarian Congress of Peoples’, the meeting in December in Caracas at which Granda was kidnapped, wrote a communique repudiating the kidnapping but also clarifying that Granda was not an accredited participant at the Congress and neither was FARC. They also stated their support for whatever Chavez chooses to do to defend “national dignity, truth, and justice, mocked by this grave violation of the national sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which effects the relations between the neighbouring countries and corresponds to the imperialist strategy of the US in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The list of signers (the statement is below) suggests that this is the position of most of the ‘official’ left in Latin America.

This is a serious escalation against Venezuela, and a brilliant political move on behalf of the US and Uribe: very cleverly designed to split Chavez’s political base, internationally and, much more importantly, domestically. It is the more effective precisely because, unfortunately, kidnapping is so important a FARC tactic that to argue against Granda’s kidnapping is to invite the reply from Uribe people: “Well, then are you against all the FARC’s kidnappings?” If you are, then you can no longer be an unquestioning supporter of the FARC’s – hence the split. Worse, by committing these kinds of abuses, deliberately designed to provoke, the US/Uribe are inviting the FARC to commit reprisals that will reduce its popularity and force still others to distance themselves from them.


Ante los hechos registrados a partir del caso del secuestro de Rodrigo Granda en territorio venezolano.

Considerando la situación generada por la deplorable participación del gobierno de Colombia, al reconocer el pago de soborno para realizar el secuestro de Granda en territorio de Venezuela. Ante la irresponsable afirmación del gobierno del Presidente Uribe al sostener que “la política de recompensas es un instrumento legítimo de los Estados”, poniéndose al margen de todas las normas jurídicas del derecho internacional. Entendiendo que esta acción es un hecho que lesiona gravemente la soberanía de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, y por lo tanto corresponde una disculpa pública y rectificación por parte del Gobierno de Colombia ante pueblo venezolano

y la opinión pública internacional.

Los asistentes internacionales al II Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos declaran:

1. Repudiamos el secuestro de Rodrigo Granda, realizado en Caracas el día 13 de diciembre.

2. Ante el comunicado emitido por el gobierno de Colombia en el que se afirma que “El señor Granda participó en un Congreso Bolivariano realizado en Caracas los días 8 y 9 de diciembre de 2004, en representación de la FARC”.

a) Ratificamos que no fueron invitados ni acreditados en el Segundo Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos, Rodrigo Granda, ni la organización que representa, las FARC.

b) Informamos que el Segundo Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos se llevó a cabo del día 6 al 9 de diciembre, contando con una gran cantidad de actividades de libre acceso al público en general.

3. En consonancia con las resoluciones emanadas de nuestro Segundo Congreso, hacemos votos por la solución política negociada al conflicto social y armado que desangra la hermana República de Colombia.

4. Respaldamos en todos sus términos la posición y medidas tomadas por el Presidente Hugo Chávez y el Gobierno de Venezuela en defensa de la dignidad nacional, la verdad y la justicia, mancilladas por este secuestro en territorio venezolano, hecho que constituye una grave violación a la soberanía de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, que afecta las relaciones entre dos países hermanos y responde a la estrategia imperialista de los Estados Unidos en América

Latina y el Caribe.

Por los asistentes al Segundo Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos:

• Jorge Ceballos, Coordinador Nacional del Movimiento Barrios de Pie, Argentina.
• Marcia Campos, Presidenta de la Federación Democrática Internacional de Mujeres,

FDIM, Brasil.
• Alexis Ponce, Coordinador de la Asamblea Permanente de los Derechos Humanos del

Ecuador, APDH, Ecuador.
• Jacinto Suárez, miembro de la dirección nacional del Frente Sandinista de

Liberación Nacional, FSLN, Nicaragua.
• Osvaldo Peredo, miembro de la dirección del Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS,

• Marlene da Rocha, Secretaria Nacional de Acompañamiento del Proyecto Hambre Cero

por la Ejecutiva del Partido de los Trabajadores PT, Brasil.
• Jorge Schafik Handal, jefe fracción legislativa del FMLN, El Salvador.
• Rodrigo Ruiz, Secretario General de La Surda, Chile.
• Edgar Sánchez Aguirre, miembro de la dirección de la Federación Campesina de

Oruro, Bolivia.
• Isaac Rudnik, miembro dirección nacional de la Corriente Patria Libre, CPL,

• Leónidas Iza, ex presidente de la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del

Ecuador, CONAIE, Ecuador.
• Héctor Pio Fleitas Flecha, miembro de la mesa ejecutiva, Sindicato de

Trabajadores de Petroleros Paraguayos, Paraguay.
• José Adán Rivera, Secretario General de la Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo,

ATC, Nicaragua.
• Rubén García, miembro de la dirección nacional del Movimiento de Liberación

Nacional Tupamaros, MLN, Frente Amplio, Uruguay.
• Nidia Díaz, miembro de la Secretaría de Relaciones Internacionales del Frente

Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, FMLN, El Salvador.
• Edgar Ponce, Secretario General de la Red de Trabajadores de la Energía

Eléctrica, Enlace, Ecuador.
• Doris Gutiérrez, miembro de la Dirección Nacional de la Coordinadora de

Organizaciones Campesinas de Honduras, COCOH, Honduras.
• Carolina Toranza, delegada de la Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios del

Uruguay, FEUU, Uruguay.
• Raul Marín, Coordinador del Movimiento Sin Techo, MST, Paraguay.
• Héctor Santarén, miembro de la Mesa Ejecutiva del Partido Comunista Congreso

Extraordinario, PCCE, Argentina.
• Gilberto Talahua, Secretario General del Movimiento Plurinacional Pachakutik

Nuevo País, Ecuador.
• Darío López Desvars, Coordinador de la Casa de la Juventud, Paraguay.
• Arnaldo Assis Mourthe, Secretario de Relaciones Internacionales del Partido

Democrático Laborista, PDT, Brasil.
• Federico Tomás Gomensoro, Secretario de Relaciones Internacionales del Partido

Socialista del Uruguay, PSU, Frente Amplio, Uruguay.
• Padre Rogelio Cruz, Presidente del Grupo Sacerdotal Helder Cámara, República

• Humberto Cholango, Presidente de la Confederación Kichua Ecuarrunari, Ecuador.
• Mercedes Fleitas, miembro de la dirección nacional del Mesa Coordinadora

Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Paraguay.
• José Espinal Marcelo, miembro de la dirección nacional del Partido Nueva

Alternativa y de la Unidad del Pueblo, República Dominicana.
• Reverendo Ricardo Cornejo, Presidente de la Comunidad Fe y Vida, El Salvador.
• Ramatis Jacino, vicepresidente de la municipalidad de San Pablo del Partido de

los Trabajadores, Brasil.
• Ignacio López, Secretario General de la Central Unitaria de Trabajadores

Auténtica, CUT-A, Paraguay.
• Carlos Aznárez, Coordinador de las Cátedras Bolivarianas de la Universidad de

Madres de Plaza de Mayo y director de Resumen Latinoamericano.
• Marcelo Koening, miembro de la Dirección Nacional del Movimiento Patriótico 20

de Diciembre, Argentina.
• Manuel Zárate, miembro de la dirección nacional del Partido del Pueblo, Panamá.
• Juan Barahona, miembro de la dirección del Bloque Popular, Honduras.
• Nelson Chaves, Secretario de Relaciones Internacionales del Movimiento

Revolucionario 8 de Octubre, MR8, Brasil.
• Angel Adolfo Borello, miembro de la Dirección Nacional de la Federación de

Tierra y Vivienda, FTV, Coordinador del Comedor Los Pibes, Argentina.
• Gloria Ribas, miembro de la Asociación de Comunidades Afectadas por el Anillo

Perisférico, El Salvador.
• Silvia Ferreira, miembro de la dirección nacional de la Agrupación Juvenil

Venceremos, Argentina.
• Cuauhtemoc Amecua Dromundo, Secretario General del Partido Popular Socialista,

PPS, México.
• Rodrigo Acosta, Comisión Directiva del Sindicato de Trabajadores de Teléfonos,

• Rafael González, miembro de la dirección nacional del Comité de Unidad

Campesina, CUC, Guatemala.
• Jorge Coronado, miembro de la dirección de Encuentro Popular, EP, Costa Rica.
• Maria do Socorro Gomes, miembro de la dirección de Centro Brasileño por la Paz y

la Solidaridad de los Pueblos, CEBRAPAZ, y del Partido Comunista do Brasil, PC do

B, Brasil.
• Marcelo Fondizi, miembro de la dirección de la Asociación de Trabajadores del

Estado, ATE, Argentina.
• Ricardo Robleto, Secretario General de la Central de Trabajadores de Nicaragua,

CTN, Nicaragua.
• Mónica Saiz. Proyecto Emancipación, Argentina.
• Eva Carazo, representante de la Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad, Costa

• María del Rosario Cañada, delegada de Jóvenes por el Socialismo, México.
• Rubén Varone, delegado del Partido Comunista, Argentina.
• Carlos Wong, Presidente de la Fundación Casa Azul, Panamá.
• Sergio Herrera, miembro de la dirección nacional de la Unión Nacional de

Estudiantes de Nicaragua, Nicaragua.
• Neburuby Chamarra, representante de los Cabildos Mayores del Movimiento

Indígena, Colombia.
• Yuliana Valencia, delegada de Disidencia Estudiantil, Perú.
• Elizabeth Rivera Cruz, miembro del Bloque Popular Social, El Salvador.
• Daniel Rico Serpa, miembro de la dirección del Unión Sindical de Obreros de la

Industria Petrolera, USO, Colombia.
• Fernando Ramón Bossi, Secretario General del Proyecto Emancipación, PE,

• Mauricio Rubiano Bello, miembro de la dirección nacional de la Asociación

Iniciativa Juvenil, Colombia.
• Leonardo Severo Wexell, representante del Canal Comunitario de San pablo,

• Eberto Díaz Montes, miembro de la dirección nacional de la Federación Nacional

Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria, FENSUAGRO, Colombia.
• Pablo Ceto, miembro del Ejecutivo Nacional de la Unidad Nacional revolucionaria

Guatemalteca, URNG, Guatemala.
• Agustín Contreras, Presidente de la Casa Bolívar de Anfictionía, Colombia.
• Silvia Ayala Figueroa, miembro de la dirección del Partido Unificación

Democrática, PUD, Honduras.
• Alex Munguía Salazar, delegado del Movimiento Mexicano Juarista Bolivariano,

• Demetrio Hernández, Secretario General del Movimiento de Izquierda

Revolucionario, MIR, Chile.
• Antonio García, Presidente CUT, subseccional Atlántico, Colombia.
• Israel Barreiro, Secretario General CUT, Subseccional Atlántico, Colombia.
• Guillermo Rivera, Directivo Nacional de la UNEB Unión Nacional de Empleados

Bancarios, Colombia.
• Luis Jiménez, Directivo Nacional de Empleados Bancarios UNEB. , Colombia.
• Astrid Coronado, Coordinadora Polo Democrático, Colombia.
• Edith González Caballero, miembro de dirección del Comité de Solidaridad con

Cuba, Panamá.
• Ivonett Tapia Gómez, coordinadora de las Cátedras Bolivarianas de Colombia,

• Camilo Soares, Coordinador General del Centro de Estudios y Educación Popular

Germinal, Paraguay.
• Marinda Reyes Vázquez, delegada de Proyecto Revolución Cultural, República

• Norberto Aristides Cintrón Fiallo, Coordinadora para la Confraternidad Caribeña

y Latinoamericana de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.
• Reinaldo Federico Ortiz, delegado de Estudiantes Universitarios Kunas, Panamá.
• Milagros Rivera, dirigente del Comité de Solidaridad con Cuba, Puerto Rico.
Siguen firmas.

Some Colombia stuff

Readers of this blog are probably following the Colombia-Venezuela situation with interest. A development late last week: apparently Colombian authorities arrested an apparent FARC member, Rodrigo Granda, in Venezuela on January 13. If that’s true, it was an abduction – Chavez called it a violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Colombia claims it arrested Granda on the border, in Colombian territory. But now Venezuela has been distancing itself publicly from FARC.

Maybe Colombia and Venezuela need some American help to resolve their problems, huh?

Continue reading “Some Colombia stuff”

Canada & the UN do right by the children of Haiti

Lyn Duff, writing for the Pacific News Service, wrote a kind of personal essay. She helped establish a children’s radio station in Haiti in 1995. Aristide, you see, hamstrung as he was by debt and subversion, had managed to create some protections for Haiti’s hundreds of thousands of street children. Even without money, he helped change social attitudes towards them.

Continue reading “Canada & the UN do right by the children of Haiti”

Blah blah blah, opportunity for peace, blah blah blah

Got this from IMEMC:

The Israeli army official said newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has done nothing to deal with Palestinian resistance groups.

“Abu Mazen must take matters into his hands immediately,” a senior army General Staff said to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Thursday.

“Before the elections, the Palestinians told us that he is trying to achieve calm through dialogue. That did not work. In the meantime, the elections are over, “terrorism” continues as usual, and the PA has done nothing.

Continue reading “Blah blah blah, opportunity for peace, blah blah blah”

Things really haven’t changed…

A friend put me on to this debate. I figured since I linked to Jon Stewart’s pre-election Crossfire appearance I could link to Frank Zappa’s from the 1980s.

If you watch it, you’ll note a couple of things.

First, the attack-dog nature of the guy they set against Zappa. Machismo and bluster are always used when they can be, then and now.

Continue reading “Things really haven’t changed…”