Colombia: sex scandal overshadows ongoing war

Colombia is topping news headlines in the United States for a change following accusations that members of President Obama's security detail at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena this week brought local sex workers back to their hotel rooms. Security clearance for 11 Secret Service agents has been revoked, and investigators believe that up to 20 Secret Service and military personnel were involved. Cartagena Mayor Campo Elias Teran said local authorities are investigating whether some of the sex workers involved in the scandal were minors. (Colombia Reports, April 17)

The four car-bombs that went off in Colombia over the course of the summit predictably failed to win nearly as much coverage. Two in Cartagena and one in Bogotá did little damage, but the bomb left in an abandoned truck outside the National Police station in Morales, Cauca, damaged some 200 homes, and destroyed four. When police rushed in after the attack, they were ambushed by presumed FARC guerillas, leaving one officer dead. (Colombia Reports, April 16 Vanguardia, Bucaramanga, April 15; AP, AP, April 14)

Army troops and agents of the Technical Investigations Body (CTI) carried out sweeps in Medellín during the summit, arresting 20 suspected of being collaborators with the FARC's 36th Front, who were charged with terrorism, rebellion and drug trafficking. (Europea Press, April 18)

In a rare instance, on April 13 two army soldiers and a sub-lieutenant in Boyacá were sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for the extrajudicial execution of a campesino who was reported to have been a FARC guerilla killed in combat—a practice known as "false positives." (Prensa Latina, April 13)

Completely overlooked by mainstream English-language sources, a grassroots "People's Summit" was held alongside the official affair in Cartagena. Its closing statement criticized US-led militarization of the hemisphere, with special mention of US support for the 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras, denial of Argentina's sovereignty over the Malvinas, exclusion of Cuba from the official summit, and the ongoing Pentagon control of Guantánamo Bay. (ALAi, Adital, April 14)

See our last posts on Colombia.

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