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Santos: Military Killed Thousands of Civilians in Colombia

teleSUR | June 11, 2021

Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas and asked for forgiveness for those crimes.

“There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the original sin, what in the end gave rise to these atrocities, was the pressure to produce casualties” as well as “the rewards for achieving it,” Santos said in a voluntary statement to the Truth Commission investigating the half-century conflict with the now-defunct FARC.

The commission is an extrajudicial body created under the 2016 peace accords pushed by Santos that led to the disarmament of the rebels.

Santos held power between 2010 and 2018 and previously served as defense minister under Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), under whose rule thousands of civilian killings were perpetrated and then presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

Moved, the former president apologized to the families of victims present at his appearance.

“I apologize to all the mothers and all their families, victims of this horror, from the depths of my soul. May this never happen again,” he emphasized.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which tries the worst crimes of the conflict with the FARC, documented 6,400 killings of civilians at the hands of the military during Uribe’s term, three times the number estimated until recently by the prosecutor’s office.

The military high command has always denied that the killings, encouraged by a “body count,” were a systematic practice in the military.

However, Santos affirmed that they are “an indelible stain on the honor of an army that has every reason to boast, but which must also have the fortitude to recognize the truth and ask for forgiveness. It is one of the ways to repair the damage”.

Known in military jargon as “false positives,” the executions of civilians are the biggest scandal involving the Colombian army. Officers and soldiers have confessed their involvement before the peace tribunal, seeking criminal benefits.

Santos told the Truth Commission that he learned of the military’s crimes as soon as he took over the defense portfolio in 2006. Still, he played down the credibility of the allegations.

According to the former president, warnings from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross were fundamental to investigate and sanction 30 officers and non-commissioned officers.

“Later, we found out that the paramilitaries were collaborating with members of the military forces to produce these false positives,” he concluded.

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Ten Killed During Protests in Cali, Colombia Over Past Day

Sputnik – 29.05.2021

At least 10 people were killed and 23 others were hospitalised during a day of protests in the city of Cali in southwestern Colombia, Security Minister Carlos Alberto Rojas Cruz said on Saturday.

“Yesterday, 10 people were killed in Cali, and in some areas in the south of the city, confrontations turned into a real urban war”, Rojas said live on the Caracol radio station.

According to him, many demonstrators sustained injuries during the rallies, with at least 23 of them admitted to the city’s hospitals.

“However, we know that there are many more of them”, the minister noted.

Local media and social networks voiced dismay over the recent series of videos showing people wearing civilian clothes shooting at protesters, and moving together with police officers. Activists demanded that the authorities explain these incidents.

“The presence of armed civilians on the streets of the city is unacceptable, it turns it into a field of military operations… The revealed facts require a quick and thorough investigation involving all law enforcement agencies”, Rojas said.

The city of Cali has been the epicentre of protests against tax hikes, rocking Colombia since late April even after the authorities discarded the initiative. Labour and student organisations demand social and health care reforms, demilitarisation of cities, and dissolution of Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron forces.

Rallies in Cali involve violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement troops. In the wake of the poor security situation, local authorities announced a night curfew. In addition, on Friday Colombian President Ivan Duque arrived in the province of Valle del Cauca, of which Cali is the capital, to hold a security council session and discuss the unrest with the regional government. He pledged to deploy more military personnel to the area.

Protest leaders publicly reject all forms of violence and declare them as peaceful marches, but numerous radical activists join the marches, vandalise properties and attack the police.

The Ministry of Defence of Colombia blames armed rebel groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Army of National Liberation, for the violence during the demonstrations, claiming they seek to destabilise certain regions of the country for their purposes.

May 29, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Embassy Refutes Colombian Minister Remarks About Moscow Role in Inciting Violence

Sputnik – 22.05.2021

The Russian Embassy to Colombia has expressed bemusement over the remarks of Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano Aponte, who accused Russia of cyberattacks and inciting violence in the Latin American nation via social networks.

“The Russian Embassy expresses deep bewilderment at the statements of the Colombian defense minister, Mr. Diego Molano, made on May 17 in an interview with one of the main Spanish media, El Mundo. In particular, the high-ranking Colombian official, answering the question of whether there was foreign interference via social networks aimed at inciting violence, said, we quote, ‘there were cyberattacks that came, in particular, from Russia,'” the embassy wrote on its Twitter page on late Friday.

According to the Russian diplomatic mission, the defense minister made similar statements in an interview with the Colombian newspaper Tiempo.

“We strongly reject these claims. Such serious accusations against our country, which we consider completely unfounded and not supported by specific evidence, in no way contribute to the development of traditionally friendly relations between Russia and Colombia,” the embassy noted.

The Russian diplomatic mission has also expressed condolences over the reported fatalities during the protests in Colombia.

The nationwide demonstrations started in Colombia on April 28 in protest of tax reform. Although the reform bill was later withdrawn, the protests continue. Labor and student organizations demand social and healthcare reforms, demilitarization of cities, and dissolution of Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron forces.

Since April, according to the Defense Ministry, more than 1,900 people have been injured in clashes between security forces and protesters. The authorities have confirmed the deaths of 15 people, while human rights activists say more than 50 have been killed in the protests.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Venezuela: Accusations of Meddling in Colombia Protests ‘Shameful’

Colombian state violence and human rights abuses have stoked the protests in which nearly 50 have died

By Paul Dobson | Venezuelanalysis | May 10, 2021

Mérida – Venezuelan authorities have dismissed accusations that they are intervening in on-going mass protests in neighboring Colombia.

Speaking on Friday from a Miami-based forum on Defense of Democracy in Latin America, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno claimed that “Our [Ecuador’s] and Colombia’s intelligence agencies have detected a gross intervention from the dictatorial and authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro [in the Colombian protests] (…) We call on Maduro to remove his bloody and corrupt hands from the democracy and stability of the Colombian people.”

The outgoing right-winger went on to describe the Venezuelan president as “the great instigator and financier of the violence in Colombia,” claiming that he had authorized public payments to pay for the “intervention.”

The evidence-free accusations were quickly echoed on social media by rightwing former Colombian Presidents Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe, with the latter writing that “They [the Maduro administration] are destroying Colombia, which has a future, in order to construct another Venezuela or Cuba, which do not.”

Following Moreno’s comments, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano claimed a “strong” Venezuelan participation in the protests, referencing the arrest and deportation of six Venezuelan citizens allegedly participating in the protests over 10 days ago. There are an estimated 1.7 million Venezuelans living in Colombia, many of which have denounced frequent xenophobic attacks against them.

While Colombian President Iván Duque is yet to comment on the alleged “intervention,” his government decided to take action against Argentina and Cuba over the weekend, accusing them of meddling and expelling a Cuban diplomat from the country.

Both Duque and Moreno recognize US-backed self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. They also belong to the Lima Group, a regional ad hoc organization of right governments which have previously made similar accusations of Venezuelan incitement, financing or involvement in mass protests across the region, including in Colombia (2019 and 2020), Ecuador (2020), Bolivia (2019), Chile (2019 and 2020) and the United States (2020), all of which were rebutted by Caracas.

In response to the latest claims, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza described the accusations as “shameful,” going on to say that the accusers were “underestimating their people.” He also quoted Spanish poet Antonio Machado, writing via Twitter that “Lies are the most destructive weapon used by fascism.”

For his part, Chavista number two Deputy Diosdado Cabello likewise downplayed the accusations, questioning Colombian intelligence capabilities. “They couldn’t even investigate Operation Gedeon – the failed maritime incursion which happened a year ago and was planned in Colombia – but they can conclude that we [supposedly] have people there. Get out of here!” he said.

Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas chimed in as well, pointing out the hypocrisy of the accusations in comparison to Duque’s 2019 call for Venezuelan soldiers to rebel against the Maduro government.

Colombia has been rocked by a wave of popular protests and strikes since April 28, with government sources claiming 27 people have died. Independent organizations have placed the figure as high as 47, with around 800 injured and more than 400 missing.

The protests were initially organized to oppose a fiscal reform which increased the poor’s tax burden. In efforts to quell the protests, Duque withdrew the reform last Sunday and Finance Minister Alberto Barrera resigned.

However, widespread police brutality, as well as accumulated grievances based around the state’s noncompliance with the 2016 Peace Agreement and other human rights violations have stoked the mass demonstrations. Despite ongoing dialogue, the protests have continued, with Duque authorizing state agencies to use “all necessary force” against them on Monday.

Reports of widespread state violence and human rights abuses have been denounced by a range of Venezuelan leftwing movements, including at a piquet outside the Colombian Consulate in Caracas on Friday.

The rally, which featured the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR) bloc and a number of other leftist forces, came in addition to a number of activities in solidarity with the Colombian people held across the country. Solidarity events also took place in a number of other Latin American cities, including Buenos Aires, Santiago and La Paz.

Venezuela and Colombia have had a tense relationship over past years, with diplomatic relations broken and borders closed in 2019. Recent border skirmishes have resulted in a number of deaths, with the Venezuelan government pointing to Colombian “irregular armed groups.” Additionally, Caracas has accused it neighbor’s government of backing regime change attempts, including the 2018 drone attack against Maduro, the 2019 attempted ‘humanitarian’ border incursion, the 2020 Operation Gedeon, and a 2021 foiled terrorist plot, amongst others.

May 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Over 370 People Go Missing During 9 Days of Tax Reform Protests in Colombia, Rights Group Says

Sputnik – 07.05.2021

A total of 379 people went missing in Colombia over nine days of protests triggered by the now-shelved tax reform, the Movice National Movement of Victims of State Crime has announced.

“The organizations of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances have transferred data on 379 persons who have gone missing since the beginning of the April 28 demonstrations to the present day to the [International Commission on] Missing Persons and the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office,” the human rights group wrote on Twitter late on Thursday.

According to the latest data from the Ombudsman’s Office, searches for 51 people are underway, another 38 have been found. The protests resulted in 352 civilians and 38 law enforcement officers receiving injuries.

Rallies in Colombia against an increase in gas prices and utility bills as part of state-proposed tax reform have been underway since 28 April. Despite President Ivan Duque withdrawing the controversial reform on Sunday, protesters have continued to rally across the country. Demonstrators are now demanding a review of the sanitary emergency and health care reform, the dissolution of the ESMAD riot police, demilitarization of cities and punishing those responsible for killing protesters.

At least 31 protesters were killed, 1,220 were injured and 87 went missing in the first week of protests against the tax reform, according to the Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies. The United Nations condemned the use of violence against protesters.

May 7, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela: Operation Gedeon Organizers Arrested in Colombia

By Ricardo Vaz | Venezuelanalysis | September 5, 2020

Mérida – Colombian security forces announced the arrest of four Venezuelan citizens on Thursday.

Rayder Alexander Russo Marquez, Juvenal Sequea Torres and Juven Jose Sequea Torres were captured in Bogota, while Yacsy Alexandra Alvarez Mirabal was detained in Barranquilla. The operation was jointly carried out by the Colombian attorney general’s office, police, army and migration services, with assistance from the FBI.

Colombian President Ivan Duque held a press conference after the arrests, claiming that the four were “criminals” paid by the Venezuelan government to “destabilize” the country.

The comments drew a sharp rebuke from Caracas, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemning the “nerve” of the Colombian president.

“What nerve from Ivan Duque. Now it turns out that Venezuelan deserting mercenaries were going to destabilize Colombia,” he wrote ironically on Twitter. “We gave the Colombian government information about these terrorists and it chose to do nothing.”

According to Venezuelan authorities, Russo, the Sequea brothers and Alvarez participated in the “Operation Gedeon” failed paramilitary incursion. On May 3 and 4, two speed boats carrying armed men were intercepted by security forces. Search operations in the following days led to over 40 arrests.

The 60-man Operation Gedeon was orchestrated by former US Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who was hired by the Juan Guaido-led Venezuelan opposition, and intended to take over strategic locations in the capital and capture several high-ranking figures, including President Nicolas Maduro.

Two other US citizens, fellow former Green Berets Airan Berry and Luke Denman, were arrested in the operation, as was a third Sequea brother, Antonio.

The Venezuelan government sustains that Russo, Juvenal and Juven Sequea took part in the Northern Colombia-based training camps where the coup attempt was prepared. The Sequea brothers took part in the April 30, 2019 failed coup attempt before deserting from the Bolivarian National Guard. Russo, aka “Teniente Pico” is accused of involvement in the August 2018 assassination attempt against Maduro.

For her part, Alvarez is said to have been behind the logistics of the operation as well as functioning as liaison between the Americans and retired Major General Cliver Alcala, another organizer behind Operation Gedeon. Alcala, who had been responsible for previous armed incursion attempts featuring Venezuelan deserters, surrendered to US authorities after being indicted on drug charges.

September 6, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Drug trafficking militias massacre social leaders in Colombia

By Lucas Leiroz | August 22, 2020

In Colombia, a terrible wave of violence affects the people and especially traditional indigenous communities. According to United Nations data, more than 40 murders of social leaders have occurred this year alone.

Last Tuesday, August 18, three Indians of the Awá people were murdered in the municipality of Ricaurte, department of Nariño, while two young men were tortured and murdered in El Patía, department of Cauca, and a social leader, Jaime Monge, was also murdered in Villacarmelo, a rural area of Cali. These deaths made newspapers’ headlines a few days after others that shocked the country. On Saturday, 15, eight young men were shot in the municipality of Samaniego; on the 11th, five teenagers were murdered in Llano Verde and an Afro-Colombian social leader was murdered in Chocó; and on the 8th, in the municipality of Leiva, Nariño, two students who were attending school were murdered.

Contrary to what was common in other times, there is no public claim of responsibility for the murders. The main reason for this is that currently there is no longer a monopoly on the attacks by the major illegal factions, but the simultaneous action of a wide variety of militias involved in drug trafficking networks. However, the Colombian State denies the existence of widespread paramilitarism in the country. Whenever a massacre occurs in the country, the official versions generally point to drug trafficking as the culprit, without further investigation, which is why the attacks remain unpunished.

Despite the denials of the authorities, the existence of multiple groups is evident and the phenomenon of paramilitarism can no longer be associated strictly with groups such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army), being, currently, an extremely multifaceted and widespread phenomenon. For example, in three recent massacres in the Santander region, a paramilitary group known as “Los Rastrojos” was denounced as the perpetrator. According to local sources, this group has between 150 and 200 members and is advancing across the country.

This same armed group – “Los Rastrojos” – has an interesting history of links with drug trafficking in the neighboring country, Venezuela. The group was expelled from Venezuela due to the constant and incisive actions of Venezuelan security forces, which forced the migration of militia members to Colombia, where they are now spreading with great speed. However, “los Rastrojos” act not only in drug trafficking, but also in politics, apparently. It was this group that, in February 2019, accompanied Juan Guaidó’s flight to Colombia. Guaidó, moreover, has several records in photos and videos with members of the militia, which raises suspicions of links between the Venezuelan opposition and Colombian drug trafficking.

In fact, the peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC in 2016 did not end civil conflicts, but it did generate a reconfiguration of the actors in the fighting. Now legalized, the FARC is no longer the main belligerent group and new, lesser-known militias are taking on a greater role in drug trafficking. In practice, the power of these militias far outweighs the ability of state security forces to control and combat them, which spurs the creation of secret networks of cooperation between the state and organized crime to keep illegal activities “restricted” and avoid the liquidation of the social order. In this way, rises what we can call a narco-state – a phenomenon in which people and criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking start to occupy positions of relevance in the government and to influence state policies.

The existence of a Colombian Narco-State is almost undeniable and explains the inertia of state forces to investigate crimes committed by criminal organizations. Massacres occur freely across the country as social movements and communities of traditional peoples become an obstacle to the advancement of trafficking. The State remains silent and even collaborates with the actions of the militias and thus the interests of crime are realized without any impediment.

The situation in Colombia, however, is old and the country has been referred to as a Narco-State on several other occasions. What is really surprising is not the Colombian government’s attitude towards organized crime, but the inertia of international organizations and foreign powers in the case. Still, the role of the US in South America is curious. A few months ago, US President Donald Trump accused Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of being involved in drug trafficking and offered a millionaire reward for his “capture”. However, the main center of US operations against Venezuela is precisely Colombia, from where, on more than one occasion, mercenaries left and crossed the border into Venezuela trying to overthrow Maduro. In addition, Washington-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Guaidó has already demonstrated links to at least one criminal organization active in Colombia and involved in the murders of social leaders.

Why do Washington, the United Nations and all the Western powers that condemn Maduro remain silent in the face of these cases? Why is Colombia not being punished with international sanctions for its inertia in preventing the massacre of its own people? Perhaps drug trafficking is not really an enemy for Washington.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Colombia: Army Kills Two Indigenous People in Cauca Valley

teleSUR | August 14, 2020

Colombia’s Army Thursday killed two Indigenous people and injured two community members during an eviction operation in El Berraco village in the Cauca department.

The victims are the Indigenous journalists Abelardo Liz and Johel Rivera, who were part of the “Liberation of Mother Earth” movement.

The Foundation for the Freedom of the Press (FLIP) regretted the death of both journalists, who were shot while covering the Army’s eviction in Corinto.

The Indigenous City Halls of Cauca Association (ACIN) reported that former Governor Julio Tumbo was seriously wounded. His bullet injuries represent a danger to life.

“Officers of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and the Army shot at El Berraco community with firearms. The victims were hit in the chest, shoulder, abdomen, and knees,” ACIN explained.

Following a court order, Army troops evicted the people who were in the Quebrada Seca ranch.

“During the operation, members of the Public Force were injured, and the El Berraco’s Indigenous people also tried to kidnap them,” Colombia’s Army stated.

According to Cauca’s indigenous organizations, the officers prevented vehicles and health personnel from entering the ranch to assist and transfer the injured to hospitals.

“The ESMAD attacked the vehicles that were trying to help the wounded. They fired gases at the windows,” ACIN said.

The University of Cauca’s Human Rights Commission and the National Union of Students denounced the events.

“The indigenous communities cannot continue to be victims of Colombia’s systematic violence,” the organizations stated.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Colombian Supreme Court Orders House Arrest of Ex-President Alvaro Uribe – Reports

Sputnik – 04.08.2020

The Colombian Supreme Court has ordered the house arrest of ex-President Alvaro Uribe, the country’s media reported on Tuesday.

The former president has been under investigation over allegations that he bribed and pressured witnesses to remain silent over his presumed links to paramilitary groups and organized crime, La FM broadcaster said.

Writing on Twitter after the announcement, Uribe said that his detention will cause a divide among the Colombian nation.

“The deprivation of my freedom causes deep sadness for my family and Colombians, who still believe that I did something positive for my homeland”, the ex-president tweeted.

Uribe was the Colombian president from 2002 to 2010. After leaving office, he has served as a senator. According to domestic media reports, current President Ivan Duque has voiced his support for Uribe, saying that he is assured of his innocence.

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia

By Lucas Leiroz | July 10, 2020

Colombia is under a pro-Washington government. The country’s current president, Iván Duque Márquez, has been noted for a series of policies of alignment with the United States, continuing the legacy of his predecessor, former president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made Colombia a NATO “global partner”, allowing the country to participate in joint military operations of the Western military alliance. In general, the long scenario of crises and tensions in Colombia, marked by drug trafficking and the conflict between criminal factions and rebel parties, has driven its governments towards a policy of alignment with Washington in exchange for security, which has increased in recent years.

However, not all Colombian politicians approve these measures. Recently, the leftist senator Iván Cepeda asked Colombian Congressional President Lidio García to convene a session to investigate and legally control the government in its collaboration with the constant arrival of American soldiers in the country. According to Cepeda, the presence of these military personnel is hostile to Colombia, deeply affecting the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Cepeda claims that the government should consult the National Congress before allowing the American military to arrive. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Cundinamarca proved Cepeda right. According to the judges of the Court, the unilateral decision to allow the entry of foreign troops violates the Colombian National Constitution, and the Executive Branch must previously submit the matter to the Congress. For this reason, the Court asked the government to send information about the joint operations in progress, with the aim of clarifying the reason for the arrival of American troops. The deadline for sending the report was July 6 and was not met by the government – which claims it will appeal the decision. Due to the non-compliance, Cepeda filed a request for the establishment of a special congressional session.

The exact number of US military personnel in the country is uncertain, which further raises suspicions about the case. Some sources say there are more than 800 Americans, while others say they are between 50 and 60 military personnel. No official note was given by the government to explain the reasons and the exact number of soldiers. On the other hand, the American Embassy in Colombia, under pressure, commented on the case, giving an unsatisfactory answer. According to American diplomats, military personnel are arriving in Colombia to carry out joint operations to combat drug trafficking. Apparently, these operations would aim to carry out a siege against Venezuela and Nicolás Maduro, who, according to Donald Trump, has links with drug trafficking in the region. It is important to remember that Trump’s accusations against Maduro were never substantiated nor has any evidence been provided of such links between the Venezuelan president and drug trafficking.

Recently, Colombian mercenaries invaded Venezuela by sea in American vessels. Venezuelan security forces neutralized the attack, but since then it has become clear that Colombia is willing to collaborate with the US to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro. Apparently, therefore, American troops arriving in the country are preparing for a next step in this old American project to occupy Venezuela.

The justification that the Venezuelan government has links with drug trafficking becomes even more curious when the American ally is precisely Colombia, a state that historically has structural links with organized crime and the illegal drug trade in South America, being considered by experts in the whole world as a true narco-state. Likewise, the United States is not innocent of scandals involving international trafficking. The CIA has repeatedly been accused of collaborating with criminal networks worldwide. The American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 guaranteed to the US the complete control of opium production in the region. In Mexico, in exchange for information and resources, American intelligence has collaborated several times with the activities of the so-called Guadalajara Cartel. Still, for years, American intelligence collaborated with Panamanian general Manuel Noriega, who has been publicly involved in drug trafficking since the 1960s, in exchange for military support against guerrillas in Nicaragua.

In fact, we can see that drug trafficking is a flawed and inconsistent justification for an invasion against Venezuela. Colombia and the United States have much more credible and notorious evidence of drug trafficking and are precisely the countries articulating this operation. We can imagine the real reasons behind this: unable to maintain its global hegemony, Washington desperately tries to guarantee its power in Latin America, and, for that, it tries to overthrow Maduro; Colombia provides support to the US in exchange for a mask for its own criminal activities, carried out in collusion by the government and criminal networks of drug trafficking groups – such activities will be falsely attributed to Maduro.

Anyway, what seems clear now is that the US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Pattern’ of Abuse by Colombian Soldiers Raises Questions Over US’ Continued Funding for Forces

Sputnik – July 7, 2020

The rapes of two young, Indigenous girls by soldiers in rural Colombia have shed light on the role that the US plays in expanding and training the Colombian military, two activists told Sputnik.

Nathalie Hrizi, an educator, a political activist and the editor of Breaking the Chains, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday that the sexual assaults of the two minors highlight a continued pattern of abuse at the hands of Colombian service members.

“Essentially, these two rapes have raised attention to what is a pattern in Colombia and a pattern associated with the human rights abuses and violations of the Colombian military,” Hrizi told show host Nicole Roussell.

“And so there have been protests … really, the Indengenous community are those that have been organizing.”

One of the assaults involved an 11-year-old girl from Colombia’s Embera tribe and has since seen seven soldiers from an army garrison in western Colombia arrested after admitting to the minor’s abduction and rape.

The second case was revealed in recent weeks by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, a Colombian think tank, which detailed the September 2019 abduction and repeated rape of a 15-year-old from the country’s Nukak Maku tribe. Both assaults have led to widespread protests across Colombia.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday, Hrizi explained that the Embera tribe is located in an autonomous territory near a military station.

“That rape has been really, in the eyes of the public, connected to another rape that happened in September to another Indigenous girl in a different area. She’s a 15-year-old girl in the Guaviare area,” Hrizi explained.

“On September 8, soldiers abducted her, and they kept her for five days … they raped her and denied her food and water … that has not really received any real widespread acknowledgment until more recently because of the way the Colombian military is organized,” Hrizi added.

Since 2016, at least 118 members of the Colombian army have been investigated over accusations that they sexually abused minors, Colombian General Eduardo Zapateiro revealed on July 1, Reuters reported. The Colombian army, which has battled for decades against leftist guerilla forces, as well as criminal gangs formed by former members of right-wing paramilitary groups, has long been accused of human rights violations.

It’s important to note “the power of this Indigenous protest movement and the really important ways in which that movement is drawing connections between violence against women and broader abuses of power, whether at the hands of the military, police, rich people or otherwise, and that very much includes the role of the US in expanding and training the Colombian military,” Hannah Dickinson, an associate professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an organizer with the Geneva Women’s Assembly, told Sputnik.

According to a report by Defense News, the US military has helped train Colombia’s soldiers for decades, despite widespread condemnation of human rights abuses by the Colombian military.

“In 1999, the US aid to Colombia jumped from $3 billion to $7.5 billion, and civic and human rights organizations in Colombia have been documenting cases of sexual violence against Indigenous women for the past 12 years,” Dickinson explained.

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Ottawa’s ties with far right Colombian president undermines human rights rhetoric regarding Venezuela

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By Yves Engler · May 13, 2020

A week ago a former Canadian soldier instigated a harebrained bid to kidnap or kill Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Launched from Colombia, the plot failed spectacularly with most of the men captured or killed.

Still, the leader of the invasion Jordan Goudreau, a veteran of the Canadian military and US special forces, has been remarkably forthright about the involvement of opposition figure Juan Guaidó. A leaked contract between Guaidó’s representative in Florida and Goudreau’s Silvercorp USA describes plans for a multi month occupation force, which after ousting Maduro would “convert to a National Asset Unit that will act under the direction of the [Guaidó] Administration to counter threats to government stability, terror threats and work closely” with other armed forces. Apparently, Goudreau was hoping for a big payday from Venezuela’s opposition. He also had his eyes on the $15 million bounty Washington put up in March for Maduro’s capture as well as tens of millions dollars for other members of the government.

As the plot has unraveled, Ottawa has refused to directly criticize the invasion launched from Colombia. The military has also refused to release information regarding Goudreau’s time in the Canadian forces. What’s more, since the plot began Canada’s foreign affairs minister has reached out to regional opponents of Maduro and reasserted Ottawa’s backing for Guaidó. The PM also discussed Venezuela with his Colombian counterpart.

The Trudeau government’s reaction to recent events suggest the global pandemic has not deterred them from brazenly seeking to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In a bid to elicit “regime change”, over the past couple years Ottawa has worked to isolate Caracas, imposed illegal sanctions, took that government to the International Criminal Court, financed an often-unsavoury opposition and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

The day after the first phase of the invasion was foiled foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke to his Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian counterparts concerning the “Venezuela crisis and the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans.” Four days later Champagne tweeted, “great call with Venezuela Interim President Juan Guaidó. Canada will always stand with the people of Venezuela in their desire to restore democracy and human rights in their country.”

On Monday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Colombian President Iván Duque Márque. According to the official release, they “discussed the crisis in Venezuela and its humanitarian impact in the region which is heightened by the pandemic. They underscored the need for continued close collaboration and a concerted international effort to address this challenging situation.” Over the past 18 months Trudeau has repeatedly discussed Venezuela with a Colombian president who has offered up his country to armed opponents of Maduro.

The Trudeau government has been chummy with Duque more generally. After he won a close election marred by fraud allegations then Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland “congratulated” Duque and said, “Canada and Colombia share a commitment to democracy and human rights.” In August 2018 Trudeau tweeted, “today, Colombia’s new President, Ivan Duque, took office and joins Swedish PM, Norway PM, Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sánchez, and others with a gender-equal cabinet. Iván, I look forward to working with you and your entire team.” A month later he added, “thanks to President Ivan Duque for a great first meeting at UNGA this afternoon, focused on growing our economies, addressing the crisis in Venezuela, and strengthening the friendship between Canada & Colombia.”

But, Duque is from the extreme right — “le champion du retour de la droite dure en Colombie”, according to a Le Soleil headline. The Colombian president has undercut the peace accord the previous (right, but not far right) government signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end Colombia’s 50-year civil war, which left some 220,000 dead. Duque’s policies have increased violence towards the ex-rebels and social activists. Seventy-seven former FARC members were killed in 2019. Even more human rights defenders were murdered. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights found that at least 107 Colombian, mostly Indigenous, rights defenders were killed in 2019.

Through the first part of this year the pace at which social leaders and demobilized FARC members have been killed has increased. According to the UN observer mission in Colombia, 24 demobilized guerrillas have already been assassinated and a recent Patriotic March report on the “The other pandemic lived in Colombia” details 95 social leaders, human rights defenders and former guerrillas killed in the first four months of 2020.

Trudeau’s dalliance with Duque is difficult to align with his stated concern for human rights in Venezuela.

The same can be said for Ottawa’s failure to condemn the recent invasion attempt. The Trudeau government should be questioned on whether it was involved or had foreknowledge of the recent plot to invade Venezuela.

May 14, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment