Forwarded from Anthony (more news from Colombia)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Feb 16 19:13:06 MST 2001

Hi Lou:

More News from Colombia

1. The Great Towel controversy

As you may remember Bogotá for a while had a clandestine submarine factory,
hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, and high in the Andes mountains.

Now we have the great towel controversy.

The Director of the National Museum, a very wealthy and well connected
society lady named Elvira Cuervo de Jaramillo, would like Manuel Marulanda
Velez, aka Tirofijo, to donate his famous towel to the museum’s collection
of clothing. Marulanda, a careful dresser, always wears either a camouflage
uniform, or slacks and a shirt - with T-shirt always showing at the neck.
He also always has a towel draped over his shoulder (though not always the
same shoulder) and wears a little leather tassel whip at his belt. Doña
Elvira, a very clothes conscious woman, would like to add the towel to the
museum’s collection.

This has stirred up a hornets nest of opposition from the right wing of
Colombian society, led by former Commander of the Armed Forces, former
Presidential candidate, Harold Bedoya. Bedoya is also believed by many to
be the real head of the paramilitaries.

The press - including both major networks - RCN and Caracol, and both major
newspapers in Bogotá, have had a field day - pointedly trying to make
Bedoya look like a fool. Several of the reporters assigned to interview him
are among those who have received paramilitary death threats. Claudia
Gulisani, living in exile and producing her show from outside of Colombia
because of paramilitary threats, interviewed Bedoya by satellite. The
Museum’s collection of clothing, which includes sundry items from virtually
every figure of Colombian history - reputable and not so reputable - has
received great publicity.

2. General linked to paramilitaries gets three years in the pen.

Former general Uscategui, cashiered for aiding the paramilitaries in
massacres in Santander and Norte de Santander, was sentenced to three years
in jail earlier this week. Uscategui was convicted of being aware of the
paramilitary actions in advance, of ‘allowing’ military helicopters to be
used to transport the paramilitaries, and of not taking action to prevent
their actions.

3. Newspapers and police speculate that FARC killed nine people found dead
in National Park.

Nine bodies were found in a raven near the side of the road in the Purace
Parque Nacional earlier this week. Seven of them were hikers from Bogotá on
an excursion to the high mountain park in an area bordering on the war zone
of Putumayo. The other two were passengers who, according to a bus driver,
had been removed from an intercity transport at a FARC roadblock. Police
and newspapers speculate that the FARC, which is active in the park and has
imposed a six P.M. curfew for all road traffic, killed the hikers after
finding them on the road after the curfew - and probably mistaking them for
paramilitaries who have moved into neighboring areas.

3. Roads in Santander linking the oil refinery city of Barancabermeja and
the provincial capital Bucaramanga, as well as linking Bogota and
Bucaramanga to the Atlantic coast, have been cut by occupations of several
thousand protestors each. The protests are against the government’s plan to
open a second despeje nearby, this one for the ELN. The protests are
organized by organizations with links to the paramilitaries.

Louis Proyect
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