Plan Patriota

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.



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 : ; ;

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y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario. E-mail

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Why I don’t like ‘quagmire’ analysis

I see a lot of writing calling Iraq a ‘quagmire’ and comparing it to Vietnam. I could be mistaken, but I detect almost a kind of smugness in the comparison, ie., people who think the US is going to get a come-uppance in Iraq the way it got such in Vietnam. I have to admit I dislike this, very strongly, for several reasons.

1) Tariq Ali complained once that the West had a ‘lack of imagination’ because it made every third world leader singled out for attack into ‘Hitler’… paraphrasing, he said: “Nasser was Hitler on the Nile; we had Milosovic who was Hitler on the Danube; we have Saddam who is Hitler on the Euphrates…” I think the Vietnam comparison is similar. Colombia was the next Vietnam; Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam; and so on.

2) If you want to make the comparison, the least you could do is not be smug about it. You should be crying when you make the comparison, not laughing at Bush. Vietnam was a holocaust. There were between 2-5 million Vietnamese killed, probably 40 Vietnamese for every American invader. Carter said ‘the destruction was mutual’, but I can’t help but see it as the US going off and destroying a country and murdering a large chunk of its population. If Iraq is ‘Bush’s Vietnam’, it is so in that respect, but that’s a tragedy.


The situation in Sudan is very serious. Reports are that the Sudanese government is engaging in massacres and massive reprisals against civilian populations. There is an insurgency in the South against a political-Islamist government in the North — but there is also a great deal of opposition to that government in the North, and in other regions.

One of the reasons I suspect the left doesn’t touch this conflict is the simple moral dictum that we should work on issues we can affect — it doesn’t take a moral giant to criticize something the Islamist government in Sudan is doing in the United States, but riskier and less popular to criticize what the US is doing in Iraq or the US/Israel are doing in Palestine. Another reason might be that people don’t want to help imperialism — the US has launched cruise missiles on Sudan before, and didn’t exactly help (instead it destroyed one of the country’s only pharmaceutical plants), and the last thing anyone wants to do is help the US prepare another ‘intervention’ against a ‘terrorist’ state.

Having said that, though, there are Western corporations cashing in on the Sudanese government’s displacement of people from resource-rich areas. There are, therefore, ways for people to try to prevent the west throwing gasoline on the fire. A prerequisite to figuring out these ways is understanding what’s going on, which is tricky, because many of the ‘experts’ take imperialism for granted. Here’s a backgrounder based on a fairly good book by one such ‘expert’.

Today’s Israel roundup

Lots to report today. First things first — from one blog to another. Some students and teachers in Jenin have put together a blog, with photos and evocative text, updated not daily but frequently. It’s called Voices from Jenin.Take a look.

In the spirit of the title of the blog, I have to revise the Palestinian body count of the week. Apparently it’s reached 40 killed over the course of the week, for those interested in counting. Among those not interested in counting — the mainstream media. I saw a headline somewhere saying: “Israel identifies new Hamas leader…” and couldn’t help but feel a sense of foreboding.

Mordecai Vanunu is looking for help from the UK, fearing for his life in Israel, where he’s trapped by restrictions. Uri Avnery suggests that Israel and the US don’t want him to expose the US connection, in an interesting piece that is marred by a metaphor I don’t like.

The Israeli Army apparently used a child as a human shield during a military operation. This happens fairly frequently, as far as I’ve heard, but it apparently is being reported to great scandal, which can only be a good thing.

As usual, most of the above came via the News Insider.

Colombia’s oil strike

The Union Sindical Obrera, the union of workers in Colombia’s state oil company ECOPETROL, is on strike, trying to prevent further privatizations of the oil company. They are risking a lot. USO’s strength has been in the oil regions around Barrancabermeja, and several years ago that city was taken over by paramilitaries by block-by-block, house-to-house slaughter. Some very terrible massacres took place, and much of the social movement in that city was destroyed. The USO remained, as did the Popular Women’s Organization, the OFP, but both have suffered severe repression.

They went out on strike again on April 22 (the same day the family of the Coca-Cola bottler’s unionist was gunned down in their home) and the strike was immediately declared illegal by the government. In some ways the future of the Colombian oil sector depends on this strike.

About a year ago, Hector Mondragon discussed USO’s problems when they were planning a strike, and compared the situation with that of the Venezuelan oil sector. Both groups of oil workers had the problem of management and engineers controlling the high-tech aspects of the business and being able to run the business (or stop it from running) without the worker’s participation. In Colombia, however, the military and the repression will be against the workers, on behalf of the privatizers, unlike in Venezuela, where the national guard intervened to stop the management-led ‘strike’. This makes things far more difficult for the workers of USO.

Israel keeps on killing

As I’ve been reporting in this blog, Israel has been killing a lot of Palestinian civilians in addition to its assassinations of Rantisi and Yassin in Gaza. The reports come in fast and furious, and they sometimes keep running totals, and can thus get confusing. Yesterday (April 23) there was a report of three shootings in Qalqilya bringing the total killed to 20 in the previous 48 hours. I will include the text of that report below.

Another killing in Biddu, of a protestor against the wall, was reported on April 21 (see below).

And another child, shot dead in Jenin by Israeli special forces (see below).

I’d apologize for being repetitive, but it’s not me — it’s just the same brutal policy being played out over and over…

Take a look at a nice photojournal by an International Solidarity Movement activist.

The original reports.


Army Kills 20 Palestinians in Two Days
IMEMC & Agencies, April 23, 2004

Israeli Special army unit killed Thursday overnight 3 Palestinians and wounded one in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, raising the number of Palestinians killed in army operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 48 hours to 20.

According to army source, soldiers, who arrived to the city center, spotted the four men near a car. Soldiers opened fire after the four refused orders to stop and attempted to flee the place.

As a result Abdul-Rahman Nazal, an operative of Fatah’s military wing, Mohamed Nazal and Mahmoud Odeh, Fatah political activists, were killed and Atef Shaban, the leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades in the city, was seriously wounded and moved to the hospital in a critical condition. In a similar incident early on Thursday, soldiers killed three, claimed to be armed, Fatah activists in the West Bank city of Tul Karm.

Also on Thursday, troops pulled out of northern parts of the Gaza Strip after a three days invasion in which 17 Palestinians were killed, including 3 children, and more than 40 were wounded to various degrees.

Two of the children killed Thursday in Beit Lahia, North of Gaza city were identified to be, Muna Abu Tabak, 9, and Asma’ Jalaik, 4. Army source claimed that the operation in Beit Lahia aimed at preventing resistance operatives from firing Qassam rockets at nearby Israeli settlements.

As of the return of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from his Washington visit, army escalated its operation inside Palestinian areas considerably.Palestinians believe that Sharon was encouraged to escalate military actions as a result of the support he received from the American Administration.


Wed April 21, 2004

Another Palestinian shot in Biddu
Eyewitness report
ISM Biddu
21 Apr 04

[Biddu, NW Jerusalem] Five citizens of the West Bank village of Biddu have been killed by the Israeli military over the last month and a half during protests against the Apartheid Wall that the government of Israel is building on their farmland. Despite the use of excessive and lethal force against protesters, the people of Biddu remain committed to resisting the Wall through non-violent protests.

Today 30 residents of Biddu, 10 internationals and 10 Israelis marched to the land for the first time since 23 year old Diya’ Abu Eid was killed as he stood in an olive grove three days ago by an Israeli sniper. Carrying signs saying, “5 Dead: Stop the Killing Now” “Stop Killing Innocents”, and “The World is Watching”, the protesters stopped on a hill overlooking the the construction site, about 400 meters from the bulldozers and Israeli Soldiers and Border Police.

The Israeli military responded by posting snipers, and readying mounted police and jeeps, but they remained 400 meters from the protesters for two hours. Eventually, ten Palestinian youths left the protesters and moved to with 100 meters of the Israeli military. They began throwing rocks that didn’t reach the soldiers. Though the rockthrowing posed no threat to the soldiers, two Palestinian protest organizers went down to talk with the youths and move them back to the larger group. As the organizers were talking with the youths, suddenly, four Israeli soldiers sprinted down the hill towards the young men. As the remaining protesters watched events unfold from the hill 300 meters away, the youths ran from the soldiers. One of the four soldiers then fired a single shot at the youths, striking 23 year old Rabia’ Al Khudour in the back. The bullet travelled through his back and exited his stomach.

The Doctor who treated Rabia’ at the scene confirmed from the entry and exit wounds that he was shot with a live bullet. Before using live ammunition, the Israeli Soldiers and Border Police used none of the standard crowd control techniques – teargas, rubber bullets or even warning shots.

Rabia’ was transported to Mokassed Hospital in Jerusalem where he underwent surgery and fortunately is now in stable condition. His ambulance was followed to the hospital by an Israeli military jeep. His family fears that in addition to being shot, Rabia’ will now be arrested.

The Israeli soldiers and Border Police were never endangered by rock throwing. They gave no warning before opening fire with live ammunition on Rabia and the other youths. The people of Biddu continue to wonder why the Israeli military remains so intent on killing unarmed protesters, and the foreigners and Israelis present were shocked that the soldiers moved immediately to potentially lethal force on an otherwise quiet day.

For more information, please contact:
Shora: +972.67.254.910
ISM Media Office: +972.66.505.237


Sat April 24, 2004
For Immediate Release


[Jenin] In the Southwest neighborhood of Jenin, near the Municipality, Israeli special forces assassinated Kamal Toubasi and Said Hardan as they were driving their car. A third casualty, 13 year-old Mohamed Azzouka was killed during the invasion as he was near the scene. ISM contact Ali Sammoudi eye witnessed the Israeli special forces open fire on the Palestinian boy. Ali was also wounded in the face with a live bullet that entered his left nostril and exited through his right cheek.

The special forces were reinforced by 2 Apache helicopters overhead 6 tanks and approximately 20 jeeps. The operation started at noon and the Israeli military pulled out after two hours.

The four Palestinians were transferred to Jenin Governmental Hospital where three of them died. The injury sustained by Ali Sammoudi does not endanger his life.

Reuters and Ramattan Studios have video footages and AFP have photos from the military invasion.

This assassination operation takes place in a context of escalating violence from the Israeli military. Only 2 days ago, in a similar operation in Qalqilia, Israeli troops killed 3 Palestinians. A man was shot near Ramallah, three were killed in Tulkarem and another Palestinian was shot near Hebron in recent days. Also 2 Palestinians where killed during non-violent anti-wall demos in the Jerusalem/Ramallah area.

For more information, please contact:

Ali Sammoudi: +972.59.305.241
Jenin Governmental Hospital: +972.4.250.1057
Huwaida: +972.67.473.308
ISM Media Office: +972.66.505.237

It’s official: law and order is restored in Haiti

And we can thank the US, France, Canada and especially the Haitian Armed Forces for making it happen.

Alan Pogue, a documentary photographer, has returned from a delegation to Haiti and his impressions are circulating on some Haiti listservs. Here are some snippets:

“I met with one hundred armed rebels in Cap Haitien who were running
a kidnapping and extortion racket. I met the French forces that denied that the rebels existed. I gave the French the street address of the rebels but they were not interested in doing anything about the problem. Not that I was surprised but it was fun catching them in a lie and showing their complicity with the armed murderers. The U.S. forces in Port-au-Prince have taken over the prison and are holding Haitians there but they won’t give out the names because they officially aren’t supposed to be arresting Haitians without the Haitian police being involved in the arrest. One Haitian police officer, who objected to the arrest of five men who hadn’t done anything, was killed by the Marines. Lavalas officials and supporters are in hiding. Haitian military officers who were in the Cedras government are back in the interim government. The “human rights ” groups CARLI and NCHR are acting as McCarthy-style black listing agencies. They are not interesting in anything other than smearing Lavalas. The idea that they might call for the arrest of Chamblain, Guy Philippe or Jean-Pierre Baptiste brought only laughter. Most Haitians would vote Aristide back in tomorrow if they could.”

“The main thing is that the Cedras and Duvalier people are back and that if they block the Lavalas party from participation in the political process then 90% of the Haitian people, those not part of “civil society” (as they self proclaim themselves), will be shut out of the electoral process. The interim government has two years to hold an election which means two years of harassment for the Lavalas party members. There will be a large meeting of Haitian progressive organizations in Port-au-Price from April 28th through May 1st and it will be important to see if they are allowed to meet and present there program to the interim government. “

“The NLG will continue to send delegations so that they can monitor the ability of true civil society to function, not just the rich and their organizations. The interim government cannot have any legitimacy if it appoints Cedras/junta people.”

Israel — a factual error and more

I made a factual error in a previous blog entry. I said that Israel had killed eight people in the Gaza raids. I apologize. In fact, Israel has killed 17 people, including a 4 year old and an 11 year old, in these raids.

On the topic, a minor note via News Insider relating to the ‘all are equal but some are more equal than others’, the US is taking steps to make it easier for Israelis (and no one else) born in ‘terrorist countries’ to get US visas. In other words, painting whole countries as ‘terrorist’ and discriminating against people born in them is okay — as long as these people are not Israelis.

Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli who leaked information on Israel’s nuclear arsenal and then was kidnapped and imprisoned for 18 years, is now in hiding in a church, after the Israeli press leaked his address.

Last, and important after the assassinations of Yassin and Rantisi, Bush’s endorsement of the settlements, and the ongoing starvation and slaughter in Gaza, is that Sharon is again making noises about killing Arafat. The idea can only be to try to provoke a spectacular atrocity by Palestinians that can then be used for another reprise of ‘Defensive Shield’, another major atrocity like Jenin, or something facilitating the ethnic cleansing that is the ultimate goal of all this.

Coca Cola wrestles activist to the ground!

After the machine-gunning of a unionist’s family in Colombia (the union, SINALTRAINAL being one that is trying to negotiate with Coca Cola, and one that has seen quite a few of its unionists murdered by paramilitaries in the employ of Coca Cola’s bottlers over the past few years), some activists took things to the shareholder’s meeting yesterday. The full story below…

Coca-Cola faces down shareholder revolt and ejects protester

The Guardian David Teather in New York Thursday April 22, 2004

Coca-Cola yesterday faced down a shareholder rebellion at its annual meeting as well as protests from human rights activists which led to one being forcibly removed…

Reports from the annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, said shareholders looked stunned as security guards wrestled the human rights activist, Ray Rogers, to the ground. He had been shouting and swearing at Coke chairman and chief executive Douglas Daft. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said the force used looked excessive.

Mr Rogers had been accusing Coke of violating human rights in Colombia. Legal filings in US courts have claimed that the company and its Colombian bottlers have hired rightwing death squads to intimidate unions at the plants. They claim nine union organisers have been killed in the past decade. Mr Daft said yesterday that the charges “are false and outrageous”.

Other protesters alleged that the company’s bottling plants in India are depleting water supplies in local communities and causing pollution with discharged materials…

full article here

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke – adds

Dear Campaign Supporters:

1. Yesterday, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke successfully demonstrated at Coke’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Wilmington, Delaware. The protest generated extensive media coverage – a few samples are linked below. A highlight of the Washington Post article describes that Coke CEO Douglas Daft suppressed an independent investigation of the charges regarding Coke’s abuses in Colombia (if you do not get a “hot” link, copy and past the web addresses below):

Washington Post:

Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Atlanta Business Chronicle:

2. In addition, the following link will bring you to a radio piece produced by Workers Independent News Service. This requires an MP3 player and is best heard on a high-speed internet connection:

3. We have added several photos of the demonstration to our Protest Pics section.


Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
(212) 979-8320