New US Strategy: are you with or against Uribe?

February 3, 2008 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

A Humanitarian Agreement is Urgently Needed to Respect Life and Dignity

Statement on 4 Feb Demonstrations against the FARC from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign.

hostages_500.jpg
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez holds the granddaughter of former hostage Consuelo Gonzalez(left) during a welcome home celebration attended by Gonzales’ daughter, Maria Fernanda Perdomo (center). Chavez mediated the release of two FARC hostages

Social movements warn that 4 February demonstrations will polarise Colombia and “lead to prolonging the internal war in our country, and close off the possibility that the actors involved will humanise the armed conflict”.

The round of demonstrations against the FARC to be held in Colombia and abroad on 4 February are not simply a spontaneous initiative of ordinary citizens,  as they are disingenuously portrayed. 4 February has become the focus of an orchestrated campaign to manipulate international opinion away from backing a negotiated, humanitarian agreement as the most hopeful means towards a peaceful settlement to the country’s armed conflict. Rather than a celebration of citizen power 4 February is a tragedy in the making.

The Colombia Solidarity Campaign urges that attention be paid to the voice of the political opposition, to social movements and victim groups who consider that 4 February is a dangerous and polarising initiative that could wipe away the tentative steps towards a humanitarian agreement between the government and the FARC.

POSITION OF THE OPPOSITION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

The opposition party Polo Democratico Alternativo and the CUT trade union federation will be holding their own demonstration on 4 February calling “For the Humanitarian Accord: No to war, No to kidnappings”. The Polo makes clear that its attitude cannot

“be assumed to be either supportive of the FARC, kidnappings or crimes against humanity or supportive of the government of Alvaro Uribe, which it opposes unequivocally for its authoritarian and regressive nature”. (The Polo’s full statement is attached.)

Diverse social movements in Colombia are refusing to participate. The Colombian University Students Association, ACEU states:

“we, [the] university students……  will not march for the war as we are convinced of [the viability of] a political and negotiated exit to the social and armed conflict.  As university students, we believe in the importance of debate,   discussion and the construction of alternatives to the present regime. We invite all Colombians not to play the game of these war propositions and still wait for calls to march by mass media and the national government to eradicate  poverty, the hunger that kills many children of Colombia,  illiteracy, etc.

The School Teachers Association of Antioquia – ADIDA –  “will not participate as the demonstration is about a false dilemma that the government is now posing to the Colombian people”.  The association explains that although ADIDA rejects the armed struggle,

“neither is it willing to yield in the confrontation with a war-like and clientelistic government  which is suspected of links with the paramilitaries. To the detriment of resources for education, health, sanitation and drinking water, today the regime maintains a budget which has the highest level of funds dedicated to war in the world – 6.3% of the GDP.”

Perhaps most tellingly of all, an array of organisations representing socially oppressed groups including the national indigenous movement ONIC, the popular women’s organisation OFP, the Process of Black Communities PCN and the CNA campesino alliance warn that the 4 February demonstrations

“will lead to prolonging the internal war in our country, and close off the possibility that the actors involved will humanise the armed conflict” (full statement attached).

There is grave concern that the 4 February demonstrations will be made use of to extinguish all hope of a humanitarian accord in the foreseeable future.

URIBE ATTEMPTS TO SCUPPER HUMANITARIAN AGREEMENT

It is important to locate the 4 February demonstrations in the context of the fast moving developments since August 2007 when Colombia’s President Uribe invited Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in to mediate in the armed conflict. Working with the families and Senator Piedad Cordoba, Chávez was able to facilitate talks with the FARC that culminated on 10 January 2008 with the guerrilla group releasing Senator Consuelo González and Clara Rojas, aide to former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, into the custody of the International Red Cross and the Venezuelan authorities.  With goodwill from the principle actors, this initial success could have opened the way to a more comprehensive agreement covering the exchange of imprisoned guerrillas for kidnap victims.

But there is no goodwill. Under pressure from the US, Colombia’s president Uribe has dismissed the mediating efforts of Hugo Chávez, preferring instead his close ally the Catholic Church hierarchy, backed up by an international group consisting the governments of France, Spain and Switzerland. The three European countries have corporations with substantial investment interests in Colombia, and are expected to adopt a more pro-Uribe line than a group composed of Latin American governments.

Yet the reality is that Chávez’s involvement was a critical factor in releasing the two hostages; without Chávez it is hard to see the gulf of distrust between Uribe and the FARC being bridged.

Uribe is hell bent on a military confrontation rather than negotiated solution. His order on 26 January 2008 to the Colombia army to encircle the camps where the FARC hostages are held has radically diminished the possibility of further humanitarian exchanges.

Yolanda Pulecio, mother of Ingris Betancourt, condemned Uribe for putting her daughter’s life in even further danger.  Relatives of the politicians and military hostages held by the FARC have made it clear they will not participate in the 4 February demonstrations for fear of inflaming the situation for their family members.

THE STRATEGY OF STATE TERROR INTENSIFIES

Colombia is not a functioning democracy, the right to opposition is severely limited, and opponents are routinely intimidated and killed by a combination of official and unofficial means.

The principal unofficial threat comes from extreme right-wing paramilitaries. The government claims that the paramilitary umbrella AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) has been disbanded, but a new generation of groups know as the ‘Black Eagles’ operate with impunity across the country, exerting a continuing and real threat of assassination against members of the social movements and the political opposition. Taking but one example, the children of Coca-Cola workers and SINALTRAINAL trade unionists– Luis Eduardo, Jose Domingo and Nelson Perez and Union president Javier Correa – have been threatened with assassination unless their fathers give up their demands against the corporation.

The paramilitaries are well connected with the politicians closest to Uribe. No less than 40 uribista Congress deputies are implicated with nexus with the AUC.  Uribe’s cousin and close collaborator, ex Senator Mario Uribe, is one of them. According to the investigating judge, Uribe telephoned him insisting that the case be dropped. Uribe denies making this call, but continues to intimidate the Supreme Court whenever it considers accusations against him. In another outstanding case, paramilitary leader ‘Tasmania’ alleges that he consorted in a murder plot with Uribe. And prosecutors have found that Jorge Noguera, Uribe’s appointment to head the DAS national intelligence service held ten meetings with paramilitary leaders and passed to them complied lists of trade unionist and academics to be assassinated.

Since Uribe came to power in 2002, human rights groups report that the Armed Forces have been responsible for 908 extra-judicial executions of civilians up to 2007, a figure expected to exceed 1,000 victims soon. Iván Cepeda, the son of an assassinated opposition Senator, notes that many of the victims are ‘false positives’ – individuals that the Army claims were ‘terrorists’ killed in combat, but who were later shown to be civilians dressed up in guerrilla clothes to justify their assassination.

Another substantial part of the killings are civilians assassinated or disappeared whilst in custody.   This renders especially worrying the report of monitoring group Human Rights First that

“in the last month, a wave of arbitrary detentions of activists has swept Colombia, putting the lives of community leaders and members of non-governmental organizations … in danger”.

Journalists are continually threatened, and Uribe’s political henchmen especially vilify alternative media outlets. Desde Abajo magazine is the latest victim of a campaign of stigmatisation, which because it does not support the government has been falsely labelled as supporting the FARC. In Colombia this is a green light to assassination for all those associated with the publication.

These are but a few examples, illustrating a pervasive strategy of violence and intimidation. Uribe is the executive heading up a strategy of state terror.

CONCLUSION

The Colombia Solidarity Campaign condemns the 4 February demonstrations as a manipulation of the pain and suffering of the victims caused by both sides of the armed conflict.

We urge anyone who is genuinely concerned with ending terrorism in Colombia to closely examine the record of the government, the armed forces under its command and its paramilitary auxiliaries.

Above all at this time we appeal for international public opinion to listen to, be guided by and support Colombia’s social movements who are united in seeking a humanitarian agreement.

London, 3rd February 2008

Declaration on the March of February 4 by the Polo Democratico Alternativo

For the Humanitarian Accord: No to war, no to kidnappings

Bogota, January 28 2008

The Polo Democratico Alternativo calls a Day of Action for the Humanitarian Accord, against war and kidnappings on February 4 at 11am and invites you to join the initiatives of the CUT [trade union federation], FECODE [teachers union], the Mayors of Bogotá, Cali and the Governors of Nariño, Santander and Cesar.

The Polo Democratico Alternativo judges it urgent in the present circumstances to announce its position without hesitation, since the march announced by the media can be interpreted in different ways. The Polo will not allow that its attitude is assumed to be either supportive of the Farc, kidnappings or crimes against humanity, or supportive of the government of Alvaro Uribe which it opposes unequivocally for its authoritarian and regressive nature.

1. We can’t accept, the false dilemma the public and the international community face – you’re either with the Farc or the government of Uribe.

2. We condemn without hesitation kidnapping and all other crimes against humanity committed by the Farc, illegal acts against the dignity of the person and all his/her rights such as autonomy, freedom, the right to not be submitted to cruel and inhuman treatment and to not be  deprived unjustly of family and proximity to loved ones.

3. We condemn with equal force all the illegal armed groups, insurgents and paramilitaries, whose atrocious crimes, had they been shown in dramatic images like the recent photos of those kidnapped by the Farc, would have produced the same sentiments of repulsion and condemnation.

4. We denounce and condemn with indignation and sadness the ignominious conditions in which 4 million displaced people live, a product of the violent “clearance” of their lands by paramilitary groups and, occasionally too, by the guerrillas.

5. We denounce and condemn with even more vigour and indignation the horrendous crimes committed by the state’s forces, monstrous actions like executing innocent campesinos, teachers and trade unionists, who are then presented afterwards as fallen insurgents in combat.

And we condemn them with more force because they reveal the appalling inversion that occurs when those that have a responsibility to protect people morph into their merciless executioners.

6. All the above betrays the existence of an armed conflict that has scarred the country for more than 40 years, denied maliciously by a government that    continues to hide the war’s existence in order to avoid an exploration of its causes and to present the military response, atrocious on many occasions, as Colombia’s contribution to the global war on terror.

7. We argue then that the explicit or implicit dilemma presented as immovable offers us a third option: the social state based on law, under a participatory democratic model, expressed in the 1991 constitution that this government has set about destroying and that the Polo has adopted, and belongs to its egalitarian philosophy, as its road map.

8. We have the firm conviction that only through the honest recognition of the existence of the conflict and admitting that there is in its origin social and economic factors that we have to tackle urgently, is it then possible to undertake the direction that will put an end to the conflict.

9. We affirm that the legitimate exercise of State force must be preceded and accompanied by a proposal for talks directed at recognising, without reservations, the grave errors committed by the actors and to conjoin efforts to build a just society in the framework of a renovated State, as distinct from today’s iniquitous and violent society.

10. We believe that until the yearned for end of this inhuman war we are suffering is achieved, it is essential to enter humanitarian agreements to mitigate the cruel effects of the armed confrontation, giving effect to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols and to our own Political Constitution, whilst at the same time demanding that all the kidnapped civilians (hostages) in the power of the irregular armed groups are freed, as demanded by International Humanitarian Law.

11. The Polo thinks that in the prosecution of these objectives the international community, the friendly countries and particularly our neighbours may assist in accompaniment, good offices and mediation with careful respect to the sovereignty of the country; and with a careful and respectful treatment towards those who agree to play this role.

12. As we see that these are not the reasons or objectives of those convening the [4 February] March, that has a strong resemblance to being official, we have resolved to demonstrate on the same date but at another time with all the organisations and people who share our perspectives, as represented in the following slogans:

No to War!
No to Kidnappings!
Yes to Life!
Yes to humanitarian agreements!
Yes to talks as a way to end the conflict!

DECLARACIÓN DEL POLO DEMOCRÁTICO ALTERNATIVO SOBRE “LA MARCHA DEL 4 DE FEBRERO”

Por el Acuerdo Humanitario: no a la guerra, no al secuestro

Bogotá, enero 28 de 2008.

El Polo Democrático Alternativo convoca a una jornada por el Acuerdo Humanitario, contra la guerra y contra el secuestro, el 4 de febrero de 2008, a las 11:00 a.m., y para tales efectos invita a sumarse a las iniciativas de la Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), la Federación Colombiana de Educadores (FECODE), los Alcaldes de Bogotá, Cali y los gobernadores de Nariño, Santander y Cesar.

El Polo Democrático Alternativo juzga urgente en la presente coyuntura dar a conocer sin ambages cuál es su posición, ya que la marcha convocada por todos los medios de comunicación puede dar lugar a contradictorias interpretaciones y el Polo no puede permitir que su actitud se asuma ni como connivente con las Farc, el secuestro y los crímenes de guerra y lesa humanidad ni como apoyo al gobierno de Álvaro Uribe, al que se opone de modo inequívoco por su carácter autoritario y regresivo.

1. No podemos aceptar, por falso, el dilema que se les ha planteado a la ciudadanía y a la comunidad internacional como inexorable: o las Farc o el gobierno de Uribe.

2. Condenamos sin vacilación el secuestro y los demás crímenes de guerra y de lesa humanidad cometidos por las Farc, atentatorios a la dignidad de la persona y a todos los derechos y bienes que de ella se derivan tales como la autonomía, la libertad, el derecho a no ser sometidos a tratos inhumanos y crueles y a no ser privados injustamente de la familia y la proximidad a los seres queridos.

3. Condenamos con idéntica fuerza a todos los grupos armados al margen de la ley, insurgentes y paramilitares, cuyos delitos atroces, de ser mostrados en imágenes dramáticas como lo han sido los secuestrados de las Farc, recientemente, tendrían que producir en todo el mundo igual sentimiento de repulsión y de condena.

4. Denunciamos y condenamos con indignación y tristeza las condiciones ignominiosas en que viven aproximadamente 4 millones de desplazados, producto del despojo violento de sus tierras por parte de grupos paramilitares y en ocasiones también de las guerrillas.

5. Denunciamos y condenamos aun con mayor vigor e indignación los crímenes horrendos cometidos por la fuerza pública mediante acciones monstruosas como las ejecuciones de campesinas y campesinos inocentes, de docentes y sindicalistas, presentados luego como insurgentes caídos en combate para materializar los siniestros “falsos positivos”.

Y los condenamos con más fuerza porque revelan la inversión horripilante que ocurre cuando quienes tienen a su cargo la protección de las personas, se tornan en sus verdugos despiadados.

6. Todo lo anterior delata sin atenuantes, la existencia de un conflicto armado que aqueja al país desde hace más de 40 años, negado maliciosamente por un gobierno que se obstina en escamotear el fenómeno para soslayar la exploración de sus causas y presentar la respuesta militar, atroz en muchas ocasiones, como la contribución de Colombia a la lucha contra el terrorismo global.

7. Señalamos entonces que el dilema explícita o implícitamente presentado como inexorable admite y reclama una tercera opción: el Estado social de derecho, bajo la forma política de la democracia participativa, plasmado en la Constitución del 91 que tan denodadamente se ha empeñado este gobierno en destruir, y que el Polo ha adoptado, en lo que atañe a su filosofía igualitaria y garantista, como su hoja de ruta.

8. Tenemos la firme convicción de que sólo mediante el reconocimiento honesto de la existencia del conflicto y de que hay en su origen factores sociales y económicos que es urgente enfrentar, es posible emprender el camino para ponerle término.

9. Afirmamos que el ejercicio legítimo de la fuerza del Estado debe estar precedido y acompañado de un propósito de diálogo dirigido a reconocer, sin reticencias, los graves errores en que han incurrido los actores y a sumar esfuerzos para construir, en el marco de un Estado con la soberanía recobrada, una sociedad justa que se parezca muy poco a la inicua y violenta que hoy tenemos.

10. Creemos necesario que mientras el fin anhelado de esta guerra inhumana que padecemos se logra, es preciso urgir la celebración de acuerdos humanitarios que mitiguen los crueles efectos de la confrontación bélica, dando efectividad a los Convenios y Protocolos de Ginebra y a nuestra propia Constitución Política y demandando simultáneamente que todos los secuestrados civiles (rehenes) en poder de los grupos irregulares alzados en armas sean puestos en libertad sin condiciones, tal como lo exige el Derecho Internacional Humanitario.

11. Piensa el Polo que en la prosecución de esos objetivos la comunidad internacional, los países amigos y particularmente nuestros vecinos, pueden cumplir tareas de acompañamiento, buenos oficios e intermediación con cuidadoso respeto por la soberanía del país y con un trato considerado y respetuoso de éste hacia aquellos que condesciendan en cumplir tal función.

12. Como vemos que no son todos éstos los objetivos y razones que convocan a la marcha que ha tomado fuertes visos de oficial, hemos resuelto manifestar en la misma fecha pero en otro momento con todas las organizaciones y personas que compartan nuestros propósitos, plasmados en las siguientes consignas:

¡No a la guerra!
¡No al secuestro!
¡Sí a la vida!
¡Sí a los acuerdos humanitarios!
¡Sí al diálogo que ponga término al conflicto!

Comité Ejecutivo Nacional

Polo Democrático Alternativo – PDA

Pronouncement of Social Organisations on 4 February

Bogotá D. C., Colombia, 30 January 2008

PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE
Because we, who are more than a million voices, are for a political and negotiated solution to the social and armed conflict in Colombia … we will not march on 4 February!

The below signed social organisations and movements are against the continuation of the war and we emphatically reject all forms of infringement of the rights of persons, communities and organisations by those involved in the armed conflict; for that reason we consider that the march convened against the FARC will lead to prolonging the internal war in our country, and close off the possibility that the actors involved will humanise the armed conflict.
We stand for a political solution to this social and armed conflict, and for seeking out integral and sustainable paths to peace. We reject warlike and military solution that want to impose themselves from some sectors on Colombian society with the approval and endorsement of international backers.

We believe that it is important to keep advancing to deepen the humanitarian agreements in existence, for example the humanitarian exchange that is implored by the families of the kidnapped and by millions in Colombia and other countries.  We express our solidarity with the families of the kidnapped and we endorse their demand that there are not military rescue attempts as this will aggravate the risk to the lives of their loved ones.

As organised popular sectors, we decide not to join the block that will on 4 February proclaim its rejection of the FARC, not because we are in favour of this armed group, but because it is clear that this day of action is an attempt to polarise opinion in favour of the war policy of president Alvaro Uribe Velez and not in favour of a political solution to the conflict.

We invite all the organised popular sectors  in Colombia and abroad to go forward united towards the configuration of an independent and autonomous political actor, and that we find creative forms with impact in society that show that we are much more than one million, those of us who want peace with justice, an integral political solution to the conflict, and, in the immediate term, humanitarian agreements that reduce the cruelty of the internal war which has for the last 40 years shed the blood of the Colombian people.

Signed,

National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia
Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia ONIC
Movement of Christians for Peace with Justice and Dignity
Movimiento de Cristianos por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad MCCPJD
Popular Womens Organisation
Organización Femenina Popular OFP
National Movement for Health and Social Security
Movimiento Nacional por la Salud y la Seguridad Social MNSS
African Descendant Movement – African Footprints
Movimiento Afrodescendiente Huellas Africanas
Process of Black Communities
Proceso de Comunidades Negras PCN
National Agriculture Coordination
Coordinador Nacional Agrario CNA
Latin American Solidarity Centre LASC (Irlanda)

Pronunciamiento de Organizaciones Sociales sobre el 4 de febrero

Bogotá D. C., Colombia, Enero 30 de 2008

COMUNICADO PUBLICO

Porque quienes estamos a favor de la solución política y negociada al conflicto social y armado que se vive en Colombia, somos muchos más que un millón de voces… ¡no marcharemos el 4 de febrero!

Las organizaciones y movimientos sociales abajo firmantes, estamos en contra de la continuación de la guerra y rechazamos enfáticamente toda forma de vulneración a los derechos de las personas, comunidades y organizaciones, por parte de quienes intervienen en el conflicto armado; por ello consideramos que la marcha convocada  contra las FARC, llevará a prolongar mucho más la guerra interna  en nuestro país, y a cerrar la posibilidad de humanizar el conflicto armado por parte de los actores que intervienen en ella.

Abogamos por una solución política de este conflicto social y armado,  y por la búsqueda de caminos integrales y sostenibles de paz. Rechazamos las salidas guerreristas y militaristas que quieren imponerse desde algunos sectores de la sociedad colombiana con el beneplácito y respaldo de sectores interesados del campo internacional.

Creemos que es muy importante seguir avanzando en la profundización de acuerdos humanitarios que lleven por ejemplo, al intercambio humanitario implorado por los familiares de los secuestrados y por millones de voces en Colombia y otros países. Expresamos nuestra solidaridad con los familiares de los secuestrados y respaldamos su exigencia de no realizar rescates militares por agravar el riesgo contra la vida de sus familiares.

Como sectores populares organizados, decidimos no sumarnos al bloque que el 4 de febrero enarbolará su rechazo contra las FARC, no porque estemos a favor de este grupo armado, sino porque a las claras, con esta jornada se busca polarizar la opinión a favor de la política bélica del presidente Alvaro Uribe Velez y no a favor de la solución política al conflicto.

Invitamos a todos los sectores populares organizados en Colombia y en el extranjero, a avanzar unificadamente hacia la configuración de un actor político independiente y autónomo, y a que busquemos formas creativas y de impacto en la sociedad, que muestren que somos muchos más que un millón, las voces de los que queremos la paz con justicia, la solución política integral al conflicto, y en lo inmediato, acuerdos humanitarios que disminuyan la crueldad de la guerra interna que desde hace 40 años desangra al pueblo colombiano.

Suscriben,

Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia ONIC
Movimiento de Cristianos por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad MCCPJD
Organización Femenina Popular OFP
Movimiento Nacional por la Salud y la Seguridad Social MNSS
Movimiento Afrodescendiente Huellas Africanas
Proceso de Comunidades Negras PCN
Coordinador Nacional Agrario CNA
Latin American Solidarity Centre LASC (Irlanda)

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