Forwarded from Anthony (Colombia)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jan 23 16:14:03 MST 2001

Hi Lou:

Please post this.

Things are moving fast in Colombia

There are eight days to the end of the "despeje".

Eight days to an increasingly likely major escalation of the war in Colombia.

Yesterday, Manuel Mirulanda Velez, Commander in chief of the FARC, rejected
the government’s latest peace offering, saying that the offer contained
nothing new. Reading the government text, Mirulanda seems to be correct.
The most glaring omission in the government’s proposal is any mention of
the paramilitaries.

The government’s proposal was in itself a response to the latest peace
initiative of the FARC on January 17. In two of that proposal’s eleven
points the FARC accuses the army of massacring 1,269 civilians in Putumayo
using soldiers disguised as paramilitaries, and makes proposals to control
and eliminate the paramilitaries.

Meanwhile, the Colombian army has moved forces into position all around the
despeje. For six months fortified positions have been under construction in
a ring around the demilitarized zone. US spy planes make daily flights over
the despeje and the surrounding areas - flying out of the ‘secret’ Tres
Esquinas airbase. The planes track all FARC troop movements, and monitor
FARC electronic communications.

The paramilitaries themselves have announced that they now have a ‘front’
in Bogota, the announced purpose of which is to close down shipments of
supplies to the FARC from the capital, but which no one doubts has a real
purpose of a terror campaign against FARC supporters, the labor movement,
and supporters of the peace process.

At the same time the paramilitaries have been waging a kind of internal
civil war in Medellin. In a stunning television broadcast in December 5
masked men, speaking on behalf of one of the city’s most feared gangs, La
Terraza, claimed to have assassinated Jaime Garzon, Eduardo Umana, and
various other public figures and human rights activists at the orders of
paramilitary leader Carlos Castano. Castano has repeatedly denied
involvement in those killings. Now, a month later, one of the five is now
in police custody as a protected witness. The other four are dead, murdered
apparently at Castano’s orders. The whole string of events began apparently
when Castano ordered a war against La Terraza because they had stolen $10
million (US) from one of the paramilitary safe houses in
Medellin!(Castano’s own version is that his organization killed two of the
four, and has launched a vendetta against La Terraza because they were
acting independently of his orders.)

One act in that internal paramilitary war apparently was a car bomb that
went off ten days ago at a shopping mall in Medellin.

All of these events have brought the specter of war much closer to the
cities, and already very long lines at embassies have grown longer as more
and more Colombians seek to escape the country’s crisis. (Two million of
Colombia’s 41 million citizens now live outside of the country.)

Louis Proyect
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