Andean Theater


by Weekly News Update on the Americas

At a meeting of Western Hemisphere defense ministers in Quito, Ecuador, on Nov. 16, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for increased Latin American action against terrorism, hinting that the region's militaries should be more involved in domestic law enforcement. The US has had "to conduct an arduous yet essential re-examination of the relationship between its military and law enforcement responsibilities," he said. Many Latin American countries suffered from human rights abuses while they were under the rule of US-backed military regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result some, like Argentina, have tried to bar the military from policing operations. US officials have suggested that the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda is moving into the hemisphere; the US has offered no evidence, and some experts are skeptical. (Reuter, Nov. 17)


by Weekly News Update on the Americas

Chilean police arrested some 300 people, mostly students, who were protesting in Santiago on Nov. 17 against the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, scheduled for Nov. 19-21 in Chile, and the participation of US president George W. Bush. "No Bush, no APEC," the protesters chanted. Militarized Carabinero police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. Those arrested included journalists and Rodrigo Soto, a member of the Chilean branch of Amnesty International; he was released without charges. Protesters said many arrests were arbitrary. "They took away my friend because he said cowards wear green," student Tamara White told a reporter; the Carabineros wear green uniforms. The demonstration was called by the Anti-APEC Coordinating Committee, headed by the Chilean Communist Party and the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR). (AFP, DPA, Reuters, Nov. 18)


Did Bush Pledge Support for Colombia’s Top Terrorist and Drug Dealer in his Cartagena Photo-Op with Alvaro Uribe?

by Bill Weinberg

President Bush’s brief stop in Colombia on his return from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Chile on Nov. 22 brought this forgotten front in Washington’s war on terrorism briefly into the headlines. Bush promised Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe--his closest South American ally--to boost aid for his military campaign against so-called "narco-terrorists."

"Our two nations share in the struggle against drugs," Bush said during a joint press conference with Uribe at the Caribbean port of Cartagena. "The drug traffickers who practice violence and intimidation in this country send their addictive and deadly products to the United States."


by Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Oct. 18, some 2,500 campesino coca producers (cocaleros) from San Gaban
in Carabaya province, Puno department, began blocking several points of a
highway leading to the neighboring department of Madre de Dios. The
cocaleros also blocked the main entrance to the San Rafael mine and
threatened to seize the San Gaban hydroelectric plant in nearby Shuane.
They were demanding that the government immediately suspend a coca
eradication operation being carried out by agents of the Anti-Drug
Department (Dirandro) in San Gaban.

According to Carabaya mayor Michel Francois Portier Balland, some 350


by Bill Weinberg

Colombia makes few headlines in the United States these days. But
Washington's involvement in the western hemisphere's longest, bloodiest war
is rapidly escalating, as the world's attention is elsewhere. And the
latest signal of increased US embroilment comes just as a vocal civil
movement is emerging in Colombia to demand an end to the military option.

Congressional approval last weekend of a doubling of the Pentagon's troop
presence in Colombia was closely followed by a national wave of protest
throughout the war-torn South American nation, as some 1.4 million



Despite Court Ruling and Peasant Protest

by Andrew Epstein, WW3 REPORT Special Correspondent in Colombia

According to the United Nations report, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2003,
coca production in Colombia has been reduced by an impres sive 37%.
However, the US fumigation program, supposedly responsible for this
dramatic decrease, has also ironically been destroying US-funded
alternative development projects. Meanwhile, the Colombian drug economy has
diversified, with the expansion fro m coca leaf to opium poppy gaining pace.


A Growing Anti-Militarist Movement Demands Right to "Active Neutrality" in
Armed Conflict

by Bill Weinberg


Maria Brigida Gonzalez, with her long gray-streaked braids and nurturing
smile, comes across as the kindly grandmother that she is, even if she is
deft with a machete, and wears knee-high rubber boots to negotiate muddy
jungle trails. Her village, San Jose de Apartado, resembles many such
campesino communities carved out of the jungle throughout Latin America,
with pigs, chickens and turkeys rummaging freely in the lanes. And, like
all too many, it has recently been the scene of much hideous violence. But
Maria Brigida and her village are on the frontlines of a grassroots
citizen initiative to find a peaceful settlement -- or at least advance the
right to neutrality -- in the escalating and chaotic civil war that is
tearing apart Colombia.

BETWEEN DYNCORP AND THE A.U.C: Glyphosate and Paramilitary Terror in Colombia's Cimitarra Valley

by Bill Weinberg

Leaving Barrancabermeja in a canoa -- a small launch with an outboard motor -- the perilous patchwork of armed groups that vie for control of Colombia's Medio Magdalena region becomes immediately obvious. Navy gunboats painted in camo line the shore along the huge oil refinery that looms over the Rio Magdalena. Just a few minutes later, a little past the edge of the city, paramilitary checkpoints on either bank survey the river traffic. They don't stop our boat because we are flying the flag of Peace Brigades International from the bow, and the paras like to give foreign human rights observers a wide berth. There are practically no suburbs -- just past the para checkpoint we find ourselves in an endless expanse of wetlands and jungle broken only by the most primitive of campesino settlements. Herons laze on the green banks as we make our way north to the Rio Cimitarra -- a tributary of the Magdalena where coca growers, paras and guerillas have all staked their turf.

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