from Weekly News Update on the Americas

In spite of the “Justice and Peace” law passed in June, which provides an amnesty for Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary networks in exchange for “demobilization,” the networks appear to be as active as ever. Peasant and unionist leaders throughout the country continue to be targeted, even as the government of President Alvaro Uribe touts the “demobilization” program as evidence of progress towards peace to keep the US aid flowing in. Killings are reported this month from Dabeiba and Ciudad Bolivar, both in the Cordillera Occidental in Antioquia department, and El Castillo, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Meta department.—WW4 REPORT


On July 3, at a checkpoint on the road leaving the town of Dabeiba in the Colombian department of Antioquia, rightwing paramilitaries took campesino Albeiro Higuita Agudelo off a local bus heading for Camparrusia. Later that afternoon, Higuita’s body, showing visible signs of torture, was found in Boton, 10 minutes from Dabeiba on the road to Medellin. Higuita was a member of the Campesino Association of Dabeiba; he lived in Balsillas, a rural community two and half hours from the town of Dabeiba.

The paramilitaries operate a permanent checkpoint at the exit point from Dabeiba, where they stop campesinos and control the amount of goods they can carry. Campesinos are not allowed to take tools, horseshoes or more than 30,000 pesos (less than $13) worth of food out of Dabeiba. Police and army forces are well-informed of the existence of the paramilitary checkpoint but leave it alone, since they are operating in coordination with the paramilitary groups, according to the Campesino Association of Dabeiba. Often the paramilitaries tell the campesinos that the confiscated goods can be reclaimed at the police station, and “in fact we do find them there,” the Association reports.

The Association is asking national and international solidarity organizations to demand that the government put a stop to the paramilitary checkpoint and the collaboration between public security forces and the paramilitaries. (Comunidad Campesina de Dabeiba, July 9 via Agencia Prensa Rural)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 17


On the morning of July 10, armed paramilitaries abducted campesino Edgar Palacios in the urban center of El Castillo municipality, in the southern Colombian department of Meta, and took him to a house in the town of Medellin del Ariari, also in Meta. Later that evening the paramilitaries took Palacios in a vehicle to the bridge over the Cumaral river, five minutes from the town center of Medellin del Ariari. His body was found the next day, in the garden of a home next to the bridge. Colombian soldiers and police agents from a counter-guerrilla force had an active presence in the town and surrounding area from July 10 to 17–including carrying out a house-by-house census and setting up strict checkpoints on access roads–yet they failed to take any action against the paramilitaries. On July 11, after Palacios’ body was found, police agents called together town residents and urged them to expose the paramilitaries present in the area. Yet on July 13, several known paramilitaries were seen playing soccer with the police agents stationed in Medellin del Ariari. Later the same day, the body of a man dressed in camouflage who was unfamiliar to local residents was found 15 minutes outside the urban center of the town. (Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, July 20)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31


On July 28, hired killers shot to death union leader Gilberto Chinome Barrera in La Estrella neighborhood of Ciudad Bolivar. Chinome was a former president of the refinery section of the United Union of Workers (USO), which represents workers at the state-run oil company Ecopetrol. In recent years he had focused on writing, including articles exposing administrative corruption at Ecopetrol. He had also sued Ecopetrol and the Colombian state. (USO Communique, July 29, via Colombia Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31


On July 27 Luis Alberto Moreno, Colombia’s ambassador to the US, was elected president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), replacing Enrique Iglesias of Uruguay, who retired in May after 17 years in the position. Moreno won 60% of the votes of the bank’s shareholders and 20 votes from the 28 member nations. Brazilian candidate Jose Sayad, currently an IADB vice president, came in second with seven country votes. Moreno’s election was seen as a victory for the US, which failed to get its candidate elected president of the Organization of American States (OAS) in April. IADB disburses over $5 billion in loans every year. Moreno starts his five-year term on Oct. 1. (Financial Times, UK, July 27)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31

Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #111


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Aug. 1, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution