The Colombia Support Network (CSN) views with great concern recent developments in Colombia, as well as military developments elsewhere in South America. We condemn the attempt on the life of former Colombian Minister of Interior and Justice Fernando Londoño and express our sympathy to him and condolences to those who lost family members killed by the bomb placed on the windshield of former Minister Londoño’s car in Bogotá. The authors of this bombing, which has terrorized the capital city once again, must be sought out and tried for this heinous crime. We have often disagreed with the public comments and positions taken by former Minister Londoño in his newspaper columns and radio programs, but he has every right to express those opinions and to live free of threats to his person and of attempts upon his life. We deplore any attempt to silence through violence the voice of anyone who comments on public affairs or who has held public office.

We are also very concerned about recent declarations by paramilitary organizations threatening leaders of organizations working for human rights. A recording made by a person identifying himself as belonging to the Aguilas Negras paramilitary organization threatened the lives of Piedad Cordoba, Gloria Cuartas and Iván Cepeda, three persons whose contributions to peace and justice in Colombia have been exceptional and of great importance. A second communication by the Aguilas Negras, in the form of a crude written message from the “Bloque Capital D.C.”, declared “all of the members of the Union Patriotica” to be a “military objective”, in addition to threatening to eliminate the leaders of organizations which participated in the recent Marcha Patriotica. The Union Patriotica, the Patriotic Union movement, was the victim of political genocide, in which some 5,000 of its members were murdered in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, including Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas, the father of Representative Iván Cepeda. We call upon the Fiscalia (Attorney General’s office) to investigate these threats and to arrest and prosecute those responsible. We call upon President Santos to order the Army and Police to pursue the Aguilas Negras and dismantle their installations throughout the country, and to order their prosecution for their illegal activities and threats to leaders in the human rights community.

Additionally, we are deeply concerned about what recent visits by high-level U.S. and Israeli officials may portend for Colombia and for other South American countries. Apart from President Barack Obama’s attendance at the “Cartagena Summit”, where no conclusive action was taken given the U.S.’s intransigence on the issues of drug policy and Cuban membership in the O.A.S., CIA Chief David Petraeus, Joint Chiefs of Staff Head General Martin Dempsey, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have recently visited Colombia. Petraeus went to the Macarena in southeast Colombia, long an area where the FARC guerrillas have had a presence and where a large common grave site of unidentified murder victims lies next to a Colombian Army installation. General Dempsey also went to the Macarena, and he visited the Catatumbo region near the border of Colombia with Venezuela, where fierce fighting between FARC guerrillas and the Colombian Army has occurred in recent days. Secretary of Defense Panetta, formerly head of the CIA, visited the Colombian Army base at Tolemaida, where U.S. soldiers have been assigned. And Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently came to Colombia to see the military installations at Tolemaida, a continuation of Israeli military interest in Colombia. (President Santos, while Minister of Defense in the Uribe Administration, visited Israel and helped develop a close relationship between the Colombian and Israeli militaries.) And the United States has entered into an agreement with the Chilean government to use a military base in Chile.

These military initiatives are worrisome. They appear to indicate an effort by the United States, supported by Israel, to establish a military presence close to Brazil and Venezuela, on the one hand, and Argentina and Bolivia, on the other. It may be an effort to use client states in the region, such as Colombia and perhaps Chile, to give the United States a perch from which to seek to control policies in the region to suit its interests.

(This Statement may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)

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