Archive for the ‘Alvaro Uribe’ Category

Colombia: Winning an election the old-fashioned way?

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Pres. Juan Manuel Santos won re-election yesterday, and many are displeased, but the most vocal is former president and now senator Álvaro Uribe, who accuses Santos of electoral fraud, buying votes, and allowing the FARC to intimidate voters.

In his statement yesterday, Uribe charged Santos of “the biggest corruption in history, in the name of peace”, by

  • handing out money to legislators to buy votes,
  • offering government money to mayors and governors to make them illegally participate in the Santos campaign,
  • buying votes
  • violating the law
  • using State funds to publicize the Santos campaign
  • failing to counter threats of massacre against Zuluaga voters from terrorist groups such as FARC and criminal gangs
  • failing to counter violent pressure from terrorist groups so voters would vote for Santos

Here’s his speech (in Spanish)

“Santos prevaricated by not rejecting armed terrorists’ support who forced [people] to vote for him and threatened to massacre Zuluaga’s supporters”

Many Colombians are concerned that under a peace deal many thousands of rebels will form drug-trafficking gangs.

Colombia: Santos campaign chief resigns

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Today’s top news in Latin America:
J.J. Rendón, who has managed some of the most successful political campaigns in Latin America (and the failed campaign for Henrique Capriles in Venezuela, which he did pro-bono), has resigned as campaign manager for Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on allegations that Rendón had negotiated with drug traffickers an offer to surrender in 2011 and shut down their operations.

Who is J.J. Rendón?

Rendón is THE topmost campaign advisor in Latin America. He plays to win, and plays hardball. Here’s his talk on neo-totalitarianism:

Who is the accuser?
The man making the accusations, Javier Antonio Calle, was one of Colombia’s most hunted drug traffickers. He turned himself in to the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012 and is now in jail in the U.S.

The firestorm:
Since Colombia is holding a presidential election on May 25, this has generated a political firestorm.

Adding to the fire, there’s also the 18-month old FARC negotiations in Havana, Rendón’s opposition to Chavismo (he’s Venezuelan), and speculation as to what role international players may have had in the release of this news. One may also have to consider Calle’s motivations, too.

The Espectador story:
Last Sunday El Espectador newspaper published an article claiming that Rendón was given $12 million for submitting a proposal to end 90% the country’s lucrative drug trade

According to El Espectador, the former drug lord, Javier Antonio Calle, alias “Comba,” has told prosecutors that several of the country’s drug traffickers made ​​a deal in 2011 with Rendon in order to submit the proposal to the government.

The proposal outlined a route to shutting down 90% of Colombia’s drug trade, with the surrender of top capos and their henchmen. Among those who participated in the proposal were some of Colombia’s top drug lords, such as Luis Enrique Calle, alias “Comba,” alias “Cuchillo,” Diego Rastrojo, and Loco Barrera.

The 2011 document called ”Agenda for solving the problem of drug trafficking and the violence it generates,” allegedly shows that Rendon officiated as a general strategist for the proposal, which was facilitated by former ELN guerrillas Francisco Galan and Jorge Castañeda. Other sources consulted by El Espectador confirmed that Rendon was actively involved in creating the plan.

Rendon subsequently told El Espectador that there was no exchange of money, that he “acted as a simple messenger”. He insists that he only recently learned the details of the proposal, adding that he will take legal action in response to the allegations.

In the dossier held by El Espectador, Rendon is described as the “general strategist” charged with “damage control, crisis management and facilitator of the negotiations.”

When asked by the journalist Daniel Coronell of Semana Magazine if money had been involved, Rendon replied that, “if there was money involved it must have been in the hands of those who put him in touch with representatives of the narcos: the then senior presidential advisor for political affairs German Chica.”

Rendón has tweeted seven points in response, which I translate (Rendón’s tweets posted below the fold)

1. I received from F[rancisco] Galán a request to communicate to the Government the illegal groups’ proposal to submit to justice.

2. I communicated to Mr. President @JuanManSantos in the presence of prosecutor @Viviane_Morales and General Naranjo their intention.

3. Mr. President @JuanManSantos requested that I channel to the Prosecutor’s Office the documents of that intention to submit to justice.

4. So I did: transparently and officially. With the document # 2011-100-001832-3 dated 7/5/2011 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Despacho de la Fiscal General).

5. The document was on the hands of the competent authority, for study and follow-up. That was the extent of my part in that matter.

6. I firmly insist that I have not received any money, stipend or benefit, and I dare anyone who says I have to prove it.

7. I am fully willing to collaborate with the competent authorities to clarify anything they may consider relevant, as always!

Uribe’s tweets:
Former president Álvaro Uribe, who is staunchly opposed to negotiations with the narcoterrorists, in turn tweeted,

Pres. Santos has been carrying a long dialogue with ELN in spite of that terrorist organization’s continuous crime, adding it to the FARC’s impunity.”

and,

Pres. Santos announces reform to Prosecutor’s [Office] on the day they ordered to investigate him.”

My question:
Never mind Santos; Who gains the most by taking down Rendón?

(more…)

Colombia: Santos throws the towel

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Methinks he’s really hankering for a Nobel Peace Prize:
Colombian President Santos Seeks New Path on Drug War
Leader Says He Hopes for Breakthrough on Drug War in Peace Talks With FARC Guerrillas

The Colombian leader, who faces a critical re-election test in May, said that an important breakthrough in the war on drugs would be achieved if, as expected, negotiators for his government and for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, reach an agreement on stamping out drug trafficking by the guerrillas, the third point in a proposed peace plan.

The FARC, which the U.S. considers to be a terrorist and drug trafficking organization, relies heavily on cocaine trafficking to finance its activities. The two sides have been locked in tough negotiations for the last 17 months in Havana to end the five-decade guerrilla insurgency.

“I expect to reach an agreement on that third point in the near future,” he said. If the FARC stops drug trafficking and becomes a partner with the government in eradicating drugs, it would have “enormous implications repercussions for Colombia and the world,” he said.

It sounds like Santos believes that the FARC will throw away its hugely profitable main source of revenues, everybody will hold hands, and a choir of potheads stoned on legal pot will Kumbaya as peace breaks out all over the land.

Forgive my cynicism, dear reader, but I visualize a slightly different scenario: The FARC signs whatever agreement will get them into congress (since Santos wants them in congress without being elected), legalizes all its drug activities consolidating power, and Colombia kisses the rule of law good-bye.

Álvaro Uribe’s not buying Santos’s tripe:
Pres. Santos forgot to tell the BBC that he promised secure democracy and he has allowed terrorism to advance

Colombia: Congressional elections tomorrow

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Former president Álvaro Uribe is favored to win, while the coalition of president Juan Manuel Santos will likely to retain its majority in both chambers.

Uribe has been scathing in his criticism of the peace talks held in Havana.

The headlines are interesting:
Colombia to Elect New Congress in Gauge of Peace Talks Support

Voters will elect all 102 Senators and 166 Lower House Representatives on March 9, in an election that pits Santos’ allies against former President Alvaro Uribe, whose Democratic Center Party opposes the negotiations with the rebels.

The government has been holding peace talks in Cuba since 2012 with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in a bid to end a civil conflict that began half a century ago. A strong showing for Uribe’s allies will make it “rough going” for Santos if he wins a second four-year term in presidential elections in May, said Michael Shifter, President of the Inter-American Dialog in Washington.

Uribe and his supporters oppose any deal that would give FARC leaders immunity for crimes, or which would allow them seats in Congress. Uribe also advocates a tougher line on the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, whose country he has described as a “paradise” for terrorists and drug traffickers.

Electoral test for Colombia peace talks as Uribe eyes comeback

The WSJ went with the Uribe-as-Juan Valdez campaign photo:

Ex-Colombian Leader Declares War on Peace Process
Álvaro Uribe is expected to face off against his successor President Juan Manuel Santos from the Senate seat he’s expected to win on Sunday.
(emphasis added)

Mr. Santos is pursuing a peace agreement with Latin America’s last powerful insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, talks that have strong support from the Obama administration. If approved, that agreement would likely include pardons for guerrilla commanders and allow them to enter politics, people close to the talks say.

The talks and the concessions are loudly opposed by Mr. Uribe and his allies, who continue to advocate for a military and judicial approach to end the war.

“There has to be justice,” Mr. Uribe said in a recent speech. “If it’s necessary to give the FARC reduced jail sentences, then fine. But we can never agree to impunity.”

It is worth pointing out that Santos himself has stated that he believes Colombians would accept a deal granting unelected guerrilla leaders seats in Congress if it brings an end to a conflict that has left 220,000 dead.

Voters would pass a referendum containing unpopular measures such as the transformation of the FARC into a political party and special treatment in the justice system for crimes committed by guerrillas, as part of a package that ends half a century of bloodshed, Santos said.

What Santos wants is to place unelected, guerrilla leaders in Congress after granting them amnesty.

No wonder Uribe’s upset.

Colombia politics predicts Uribe’s party will gain the most seats, but abstention and protest votes will emerge as the real winners on Sunday. Read their full post.

Colombia: FARC plot to murder Uribe

Friday, November 15th, 2013

While the travesty “peace negotiations”are held in Havana (as if that wasn’t a bad enough sign), the FARC is trying to kill former president Álvaro Uribe:

The assassination was being plotted by the Farc’s Teofilo Forero Mobile Column, under the command of a rebel known as Paisa, said Mr Pinzon.

As you may recall, just last week the Colombian government had announced a “fundamental agreement” with the FARC, but we don’t know the details.

Colombia’s lead representative in peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels said on Wednesday that any attack against former President Alvaro Uribe would destroy the negotiations.

The FARC have not disarmed, and have continued their attacks.


Cuba: The FARC rides the yacht

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The communist regime doesn’t allow citizens to own sailing vessels, and those who do are desperate, but the elite live the lives of the very rich and famous. . . including the narco-terrorists,

Castro’s VIP treatment of the FARC’s leaders should not come as a surprise, he’s been rolling out the red carpet for terrorist groups — including Carlos “the Jackal,” ETA, ELN, PLO, M-19, Medellin Cartel, Montoneros, Macheteros, FLN, EGP, MIR, IRA, FALN, NLF, MRTA and PFLP — for decades.

FARC negotiators Iván Márquez (left), Laura Villa and Jesús Santrich, on a catamaran yacht, in Cuba:

As former president of Colombia Alvaro Uribe says, “While the FARC relax in Havana, their victims rest in peace in Colombia’s cemeteries and common graves.”


Colombia: “Peace is not in Havana”

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Presidential candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga has had it with the FARC peace talks hosted by the Communist Cubans,

“Peace is not in Havana,” he said in his nomination speech. “The national agenda isn’t up for negotiation with the FARC.”

“I have never believed in this [peace] process because it’s based on a mistaken premise,” he told El Tiempo newspaper. “A legitimate state cannot sit down on equal terms with an organization that commits terrorist acts and finances itself through narco-traffic.”

While relatively unknown, Zuluaga has the backing of former president Alvaro Uribe, who would be a shoe-in for the Senate, while current president Juan Manuel Santos is increasingly unpopular.

Negotiations with the FARC have gone over a year.

Colombia: Alvaro Uribe at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Earlier this week, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe testified at the Subcommittee Hearing: Challenges to Democracy in the Western Hemisphere

His complete statement is available online. I found this section particularly interesting,

Triggers of Change
The potential for positive change in growth in the years ahead is not an accident; it is a consequence of the consistency, congruence and sense of urgency that a group of countries have adopted as their policy cornerstone. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay represent 70 per cent of the region’s population and 75% of the regional GDP.

This group of countries has common characteristics that explain their outstanding performance:
The strengthening of Liberal Democracy.
The adoption of an institutional Framework in favor of foreign and national investment.
The construction of a sound and sustainable social safety net.
The expansion of export markets and the commercial integration with the world (through free trade agreements).
A public administration driven by results and the elimination of the byzantine ideological debate between left and right.
A sound macroeconomic administration driven by fiscal and monetary prudence.
Better regulatory environment.
Construction of strategic infrastructure.
The consolidation of an innovation agenda leaded by an improvement in education.
A well capitalized financial sector and the constant expansion of financial services.

Today countries like Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, and Paraguay, as well as most of the Caribbean States, are following this line of behavior. Because of that, the IDB, with Luis Alberto Moreno as its leader, many analysts, statesmen and prestigious publications like The Economist, are optimistic and talk about “The Latin American Decade.”

Countries that opted for a sound evolution of policies have motivated sustainable positive change. Countries that have opted for a “Revolution” to accommodate the institutional order in favor of an ideology have been shown to be ones with instability, limitation of individual liberties, government intervention, lack of confidence from investors, and a growing social polarization with the risks of political turmoil’s [sic].

Read the whole thing.

Colombia: Farmers and students protest

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Eight days on, No deal on Colombia farmers’ strike after night of talks

Representatives of Colombian farmers’ groups and government ministers say they have not yet been able to reach a deal to end a 10-day strike.

The two sides will reconvene on Wednesday after they failed to reach agreement after nine hours of talks.

The protests by livestock, dairy and crop farmers have been paralysing parts of the country.

The demonstrators accuse the government of running the agricultural sector into the ground.

On the agenda are the high cost of fertilisers and other key farming materials, and how farmers are being undercut by cheaper imports and agricultural products being smuggled across the border from neighbouring Venezuela and Ecuador.

The farmers have been backed by some student and trade union groups which have held demonstrations in the capital Bogota and the city of Cali to show their support.

President Santos’s reaction has been puzzling,
As Farmers’ Strike Paralyzes Colombia, President Questions Its Existence

The government has responded with calls for composure and accusations of outside manipulation. Since the strike began on Aug 19, President Juan Manuel Santos has tried to minimize the strikers’ actions, giving statements that have only served to taunt protesters and bring together union leaders.

“The so-called agrarian strike does not exist,” Santos said on Sunday. Acts of violence, the president said, were caused by guerrilla infiltrators – an often-used government claim — who wanted to destabilize the country and hamper dialogues with troubled agrarian sectors. “It’s just 10 or 15 people. The situation is under control and problems are being resolved,” Santos added.

“10 or 15 people”?

Five people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in the numerous skirmishes that plague the countryside, according to police reports. Students in public universities have attacked authorities with rocks and homemade bombs. Protesters have burned cars and trucks, and an unknown group in Boyacá, a historically peaceful agrarian state located a few hours north of the nation’s capital, reportedly placed a cable line across a road late in the afternoon to kill an unsuspecting motorist that drove by. Red Cross medical missions have been detained at roadblocks, and there have been disturbances in more than half of the nation’s states.

Former president Álvaro Uribe harshly criticized Santos (video in Spanish),

Uribe accused Santos of ignoring farmers while favoring the FARC (with which Santos is negotiating). “The government has forgotten to stimulate local industry. . . coordination between [agricultural] producers and manufacturers has been neglected.” Uribe didn’t stop at that; he asserted that the Santos administration is leading the country to “anarchy towards a path to Castro-Chavismo.”


Panama Canal: Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Colombian terrorist/crime group FARC (which stands for Colombian revolutionary armed forces in English) is currently in peace talks with the Colombian government. The negotiations are taking place in Cuba, while the FARC insist that they will not surrender their weapons, will not disarm, and will not serve time in prison. They want a similar deal to that of the IRA in Northern Ireland.

At the same time, Colombia’s largest armed rebel groups, the Farc and ELN, have met as recently as last month “to strengthen” their “unification process”:

They are discussing how Farc could enter politics if a deal is reached to end five decades of conflict.

According to the Farc statement, the meeting with the ELN (National Liberation Army) at an undisclosed location discussed the need to “work for the unity of all political and social forces” involved in changing the country.

The two groups have clashed in the past but have recently joined forces in armed operations against government targets in Colombia.

So the FARC holds peace talks, while engaging in negotiations to merge with another, equally deadly Colombian terrorist group.

Presently, the peace negotiations are on recess, and are scheduled to resume on July 28,

After having exchanged proposals about the second point in the agenda (political participation), the parties have worked separately to continue discussing the first sub item on the agenda, which envisages the rights and guarantees to exercise political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that may emerge after the signing of the Final Agreement, as well as the access to the media.

In the meantime, elsewhere in Latin America, Panama stopped a North Korean freighter suspected of smuggling drugs, and, after a tussle with the crew, a suicide attempt by the captain, and the captain’s heart attack, they find, hidden behind sacks of Cuban brown sugar,

240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons”: two Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 Bis and 15 engines for those airplanes.

Keep in mind that the U.N. sanctions ban all imports to and exports from North Korea of conventional weapons, as well as material related to the country’s nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs.

But that was only on the first search; now Panama finds [four] more containers of Cuban war materiel on North Korean ship

Port authorities said four new containers had been found, bringing the total to six, in two stacks of three. They were not declared in the ship’s manifest and were hidden under 220,000 sacks of Cuban brown sugar.

But wait! There’s more!

Panamanian police academy cadets offloading the sugar so far have opened only one of the freighter’s four cargo holds, and each hold has six separate sections, according to the port officials, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

Foreign technicians with specialized imaging equipment are expected to arrive soon to search every inch of the ship and not just its cargo holds, because the tip that led Panamanian authorities to search the freighter indicated that it was carrying illegal drugs.

[Panamanian] Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino, meanwhile, said the work of unloading the 220,000 sacks of sugar from the 450-foot Chong Chon Gang is an “odyssey” because the 100-pound bags were loaded in Cuba without using pallets.

“The technicians have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Mulino told reporters, estimating that the work of unloading all the sugar will take another seven to 10 days.

One may take Cuba’s story at face value and believe them when they say that they were sending the armaments to Korea “to be repaired and returned to Cuba” – demonstrating that Cuba remains a threat. The line is that

the Cubans might have sent the equipment to North Korea to be repaired because Russia—an obvious choice to do the repair work—would have asked for cash, while North Korea may have well accepted a barter deal that included the 10,000 tons of sugar on the ship as payment for the repair of the weapons systems.

While all this is going on, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe tweeted yesterday that he was told by a reliable source that the shipment was not headed to North Korea, but, instead, to Ecuador.

Which adds a new twist to the story.

Why would Ecuador’s government bother with such antiquated equipment, when it can buy new? For instance, five years ago, following the Uribe administration’s raid of a FARC encampment a mile into the Ecuadorian border, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says Quito may buy weapons from Iran to enable the tightening of security on its border with Colombia.

During his stay in Tehran, Ecuadorian officials attended an exhibition organized by the Iranian Defense Ministry and were familiarized with the country’s defense equipment.

That may be accomplished through money transfers in the joint Ecuadorian-Iranian bank, and with the help of the direct flights between Iran and Venezuela.

Ecuador can also openly purchase armaments through other sources.

However, the FARC, involved as it currently is in “peace talks”, and considering the fact it is recognized as a terrorist organization, is not in a situation where it can openly purchase armaments. Cuba, its host on the peace talks, is strapped for cash; so is North Korea; the FARC has money from its drug trade and other criminal activity. The FARC doesn’t need state-of-the-art armaments, it only needs enough to destroy and disrupt Colombia into chaos.

And, while we’re at it, let’s remember that last year FARC Camps [were] Dismantled in Panama’s Darien Jungle as a result of a joint operation between units from Panama and Colombia.

Jaime Bayly talked about this last night (in Spanish),

So, the question remains,

Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

UPDATE,
Linked by Babalu. Thanks!

Linked by HACER. Thanks!