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The Slight Imperfections of the Uribe Era

Del Castillo: The Slight Imperfections of the Uribe Era

March 23, 2005
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The U.S. State Department has just gone through its yearly farce of reporting on the state of human rights around the world. Especially in our América, whether nations receive high marks and qualify for later "certification" has as much or more to do with politics as any real tangible changes in the human rights situation.

Just days before the report was released, a truly horrific massacre took place in the Colombian town of San José de Apartadó. As Narco News Editorial Columnist Laura del Castillo writes, the massacre seems overwhelmingly to have been committed by the army, and the response from the government has been a shocking demonstration of the Uribe administration's contempt for dissent and human rights.

Del Castillo writes:

"But we must not be so pessimistic. There must be some benefit to be gained in all this. Of course… the benefit obtained by the government, which has taken advantage of the accusations against the FARC and decided that the armed forces will enter, by any means necessary, not just San José de Apartadó, but all the peace communities across the country. All of this because, according to President Uribe: 'it is unacceptable that the army's entrance into areas of the country be impeded, because it is like putting the state at the same level as the guerrillas and the paramilitaries' (Mr. President, no offence, but in Colombia the state is indeed at the same level as the guerrillas and the paramilitaries; it is even a bit lower). According to the defense minister, 'there can be no peace communities without the presence of the armed forces.' (The presence of the armed forces guarantees peace, Mr. Minister? Strange, because reports from human rights organizations denouncing army abuses in different parts of the country are becoming more and more abundant.)

"The strangest thing of all is how this has awakened the government's defensive instincts. The president says that in 'a country mistreated by guerillas and paramilitaries,' it is absolutely necessary that the army, the police, and the justice system be present. A question: where were the police and the army (during these two years that President Uribe has been in power) when the international organizations asked for government protection after proving that San José and other peace communities were being (and still are) bled dry by the paramilitaries. Where was the state? Was the government busy, at that moment, coming up with peace agreements to favor those same paramilitaries, perhaps?"

The case of Apartadó, and how the government has responded, puts the lie to the rosy picture of justice and human rights under the Uribe administration. With his "war is peace" logic, not to mention his enthusiastic cooperation with U.S. drug war policies and rhetoric on terrorism, Uribe is now the darling of Condoleezza Rice's State Department. The graves of San José Apartadó may still be fresh, but Rice's certification looks like a done deal.

Read the entire column, at:

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder
Managing Editor, Narco News

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