5 March 2008

Sleep Easy: The War That Wasn't Isn't On

March 8:
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says the crisis with Colombia is over now that principles, justice and international rights prevail over power. Latin America can now sleep in peace.

• Squirming right through a summit of Latin American leaders in the Dominican Republic, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia publicly apologised to the Ecuadorian leader, hugged Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and shook hands with the Nicaraguan leader, Daniel Ortega.

• President Cristina Fernández of Argentina said men accused women of getting hysterical but it would be better if the male leaders behaved as rationally as did women. (El País)

March 7:
• Hundreds of thousands of people, much more than expected, took to the streets of Bogotá and 20 other Colombian cities in protest against continuing paramilitary and state-sponsored violence, kidnapping and disappearances despite the best efforts of the Colombian government and the mainstream media to sabotage the event. The march was also a way of remembering the victims of the state-paramilitary coordinated violence that has displaced 4 million Colombians, and whose land (an estimated 6 million hectares) has been grabbed by the oligarchy and ranchers. (Telesur)

• Unlike the march of February 4 against FARC guerrillas, there was no help from the government, businesses or the press. Many Colombian cities could not hold marches because of paramilitary death threats to organisers and in at least one instance armed attack.

• The Colombian authorities, at the asking of the presidential palace, are putting all sorts of obstacles in allowing Ilda Collazos,the first wife of the slain FARC leader, Raúl Reyes, from getting hold of his body and giving him a decent funeral. She was married to him in the Seventies when he was a Nestlé employee. (La Jornada)

• The Colombian Defence Minister says five "intelligent" bombs were launched from high-velocity aircraft in the attack on FARC camp and does not rule out the participation of the USA. There are strong rumours the attack was launched from the U.S. Manta base in Ecuador. (La Jornada)

• President Correa says Alvaro Uribe knew that Ingrid Betancourt, the high-profile Franco-Colombian hostage, and 11 others were to be released soon.(La Jornada)

• Nicaragua has broken off ties with Colombia and it has its own maritime dispute with Colombia. (La Jornada)

March 6:
• Hugo Chavez has said he might nationalise some of Colombia’s businesses operating in Venezuela and look to selling off Venezuelan businesses in that country. (El Mundo)

• The Colombian guerrilla group handed over to the Red Cross yesterday four tourists it had kidnapped in January this year from a tourist spot on the Pacific coast. (El País)

• Rafael Correa, has said it is impossible to maintain contacts with someone like Uribe who has lost his credibility because of his lies and says the more the Colombian government speaks, the more it contradicts itself. (Aporrea)

March 5:
• The recently slain Colombian guerrilla leader, Raúl Reyes and another of his colleague, Olga Marín, also killed in the weekend raid in Ecuadorian territory, had had secret talks 10 years ago in Costa Rica with a U.S. state department official during the presidency of Bill Clinton, according to a memorandum declassified and published by the U.S. National Security Archive. The documents cited Reyes as praising the then Colombian President Andrés Pastrana and his gratitude for “the opportunity to be able to speak directly” with the U.S. government. (National Security Archives)

• Lucía Morett Álvarez, a 26-year-old Mexican student conducting research on Colombia’s civil war and among the three to survive the raid, said there were two rounds of bombing involving aircraft and helicopters. (La Jornada)

• The guerrilla death toll has gone up to 23 with the discovery of more bodies by military teams. (Vamos a Cambiar El Mundo)

• The Opposition Left-wing Colombian grouping, the Alternative Democratic Pole, has criticised the growing U.S. involvement in the crisis and asked that friendly relations with the neighbouring countries be made a priority and said it will work to strengthen the links of friendship with the people of the region. (Vamos a Cambiar El Mundo)

• The Colombian government was spying in Mexico from 2007 on supposed FARC safe houses and sympathisers. The Mexican government has not commented on this. ( El Universal)

• The Colombian military used cluster bombs in Operation Phoenix. (Aporrea)

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