The farce of negotiation between the Colombian paramilitaries and the state is underway in force. Another irony, I suppose, that it's happening at around the same time as the trial of Saddam Hussein gets underway. One mass murderer gets a theatrical trial for crimes against humanity. Another group of mass murderers get to present their government with a platform for negotiation. The paramilitary demands are even more farcical.
They want 1) human rights (try not to die laughing) 2) implementation of Uribe's 'democratic security' (but of course there's no connection) 3) their own zones of control (making their control official) 4) eradication of 'illicit cultivation' in their areas (making the Americans happy) and 5) guarantees of reincorporation into civilian life.
For readers who don't know, the paramilitaries are the state-backed, narco-trafficker funded, army-trained and backed, mass killers who do the dirty work of the state in killing campesinos, indigenous people, unionists, and anyone who opposes the social or political goals or project of the regime. The 'negotiations' are being presented as if they were rebels against the government, when in fact this is the state negotiating with itself.
The negotiation itself can only strengthen the insurgency, since joining the guerrillas is one of the only ways people can think of to try to protect themselves or fight back against the paramilitaries.
The US ambassador has declared American support for the negotiations. An indigenous senator in Colombia has asked that the demand that the paramilitaries stop massacring indigenous people be raised at the negotiations.
It's definitely a time of low expectations.