October 30, 2008
The Colombia Support Network (CSN) is pleased to learn that the Uribe Administration has taken the step of firing 25 members of the Colombian military accused of human rights abuses. We hope this is the beginning of a long-needed reform of the Colombian Army. CSN has for the past year documented on our web page the multiple illegal activities of members of the Colombian Army. Please see http://www.colombiasupport.net/2008/CSN_Aug_Col_Army_Atrocities.pdfThese include many incidents of murder of civilians and participation in drug-trafficking and other corrupt activities. Particularly distressing has been the kidnapping of innocent civilians from one area of the country and their transfer to other areas, where they are murdered and then falsely presented as “guerrillas.” A shocking example of this “false positive” practice appears now on our web page in the story of one soldier’s account of how his civilian brother was kidnapped and killed by his fellow soldiers to earn credit for a downed guerrilla so they could spend Mother’s Day with their families. Please see
Just last week we encountered further evidence of the apparent complicity of the Colombian Army with illegal paramilitaries, when Father Rafael Gallego, a parish priest from Tiquisio in Bolivar Department, was denied a visa CSN had requested for him. Father Gallego was invited by CSN to travel to 10 communities in The United States and Canada talk about his work in community activities and in local radio development. His visa was denied for alleged “security” reasons, we believe at the behest of the Colombian military. Father Gallego’s name appeared on a hit list issued by the paramilitary organization “Aguilas Negras” (Black Eagles). The fact that he was denied a visa suggests to us collaboration between the Colombian military and the “Aguilas Negras” (as well as a much too ready acceptance by the U.S. Embassy and Consulate of the advice of the Colombian military when considering visa applications).
We applaud efforts to clean out rights abuses from the Colombian military. However, the Uribe Administration has a long way to go properly to reform this abusive military. We will continue to monitor its measures and military activities closely.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621