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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,768

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Colombian Paramilitary Groups - Human Rights Violations

Human Rights Violations

Right-wing paramilitary groups have been blamed for the vast majority of human rights violations in Colombia. The United Nations has estimated that approximately 80% of all killings in Colombia's civil conflict have been committed by paramilitaries, 12% by leftist guerrillas, and the remaining 8% by government forces. In 2005, Amnesty International stated that The vast majority of non-combat politically-motivated killings, "disappearances", and cases of torture have been carried out by army-backed paramilitaries. In its 1999 report, Human Rights Watch cited estimates from Colombian human rights organizations CINEP and Justice and Peace, which indicated that paramilitary groups were responsible for about 73% of identifiable political murders during the first half of 1998, with guerrillas and state security forces being blamed for 17 and 10 percent respectively. The Colombian Commission of Jurists reported that, in the year 2000, approximately 85% of political murders were committed by the paramilitaries and state forces.

" mutilated bodies with chainsaws. They chained people to burning vehicles. They decapitated and rolled heads like soccer balls. They killed dozens at one time, including women and children. They buried people alive or hung them on meat hooks, carving them ... the victims ... were civilians accused of supporting the guerrillas by supplying them with food, medical supplies, or transportation."

Robin Kirk, Human Rights Watch investigator in Colombia
Paramilitary violence is overwhelmingly targeted towards peasants, unionists, teachers, human rights workers, journalists and leftist political activists.

Paramilitary abuses in Colombia are often classified as atrocities due to the brutality of their methods, including the torture, rape, incineration, decapitation and mutilation with chainsaws or machetes of dozens of their victims at a time, affecting civilians, women and children.


New York Times Covering for Colombian Death Squads

FEBRUARY 9, 2001

New York Times Covering for Colombian Death Squads

The human rights situation in Colombia is in a state of “alarming degradation,” according to United Nations human rights observers (Associated Press, 1/20/01), but you won’t learn about it in the New York Times.

According to a joint report from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), “political violence has markedly increased” since the first installment of the U.S.’s $1.3 billion Plan Colombia aid package was dispersed in August, with the average number of deaths from combat and political violence rising to 14 per day (“Colombia Human Rights Certification II”, 1/01).

There were at least 27 massacres in the month of January alone, claiming the lives of as many as 200 civilians. The killings are overwhelmingly the work of right-wing paramilitaries with close ties to the Colombian military, such as the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Despite the dramatic nature of the attacks and the U.S.’s heavy financial involvement in the war, the New York Times did not report on a single massacre during the month of January. The findings of the human rights groups’ “Certification” report, including its recommendation that the U.S. cease military funding to Colombia, also went unmentioned.


Colombia's Elections: Assassinations, presidential death squads, fraud and a fragile peace process u

Colombia’s Elections: Assassinations, presidential death squads, fraud and a fragile peace process under threat
Joe Cederwall Friday, 25 May 2018, 1:46 pm
Article: Joseph Cederwall

Next week Colombia, goes to the polls in one of the most pivotal and closely fought elections in decades. This election will now take place under the watch of EU monitors as an escalating fraud scandal develops surrounding the recent congressional elections. The two frontrunners are starkly contrasted, as are the potential outcomes for Colombia and the entire Latin American region. The election has been notable for the massive popularity of (and an assassination attempt on) leftist anti-establishment and charismatic anti-corruption candidate Gustavo Petro. It has also seen the opening of a Supreme Court murder investigation against former hard-right President Álvaro Uribe Vélez over his alleged role in war crimes committed by paramilitary death squads. It has seen major revelations over corruption and the extent of the state and military involvement in atrocities in Colombia’s long running civil war and in Cocaine trafficking. Meanwhile, the fragile year-old peace process is on the verge of collapse. However, despite all this, the right-wing candidate Ivan Duque, close ally and ordained political heir of Uribe, leads in the polls one week out. The results of a victory for Duque could be catastrophic, not only for the continued progress of this nation and the peace process, but for the wider geopolitical stability of Latin America.

Why Colombia’s Elections Matter

With 49 million people, Colombia is the third-most populous country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. However, due to its central geographical position, and central role in the ‘Bolivarian’ Latin American independence movement, Colombia has always held a historical leadership role in the region. The 30 year long civil war that claimed at least 220,000 lives, displaced nearly six million people, and resulted in 27,000 kidnappings and 25,000 disappearances has slowly started to wind down. This is largely due to the more stable rule and more amenable attitude towards the legitimate calls for justice by the communist insurgency of FARC since Uribe left office. The historic peace accord between the FARC guerillas and the government in 2016 was brokered by centre-right president (since 2010) and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Juan Manuel Santos. This deal promised great things for stability and peace in the region and the war was significantly de-escalated as a result. Business confidence was finally growing again in Colombia, and the nation was on track to becoming a regional powerhouse once again.

A Fragile Peace

However, with the increasing influence of the USA over the years and decades of neoliberal rule, the prosperity of Colombia has not reached far outside the wealthy upper echelons, mostly in the main cities of Bogota and Medellin. Furthermore, the Peace process is now near to falling apart. Santos’ government has been accused of failing to deliver on its end of the bargain to rejuvenate rural areas with upgrades to infrastructure, health, education and agriculture and create real transitional opportunities for ex-combatants.

In the first year of the process, the government executed less than 20% of the agreements made with the guerrillas and there have been allegations of corruption and missing funds within the project. The media and right-wing politicians, meanwhile have seized on this faltering of the peace process to fuel the fire of opposition to the peace process and garner votes for their more hard-line approach towards FARC. The reality is, that Colombia’s institutions and state was never up to the undertaking of delivering this ambitious programme. However, ironically, this failure was also likely created or at least exacerbated by these same right-wing political and media players’ opposition to any real steps to enable more investment in the regions and in transitional initiatives.

Most problematic of all, the demobilisation of FARC the failure of the government to provide new opportunities or security has simply created a power vacuum. This has allowed right-wing paramilitaries, drug cartels and splinter communist groups outside of the peace process to consolidate their grip over the lucrative drug growing and smuggling operations. This has all led to a dramatic spike in violence in many areas. For all their faults, the FARC and other communist groups, did in many cases actually protect poor indigenous rural communities from exploitation and violence. Disturbingly, their demobilisation has also seen a rise in neoliberal land and resource grabs and in murders of human rights and environmental activists who oppose the new groups. New research by NGOs suggests that the killing of human rights activists doubled this year.


'I've Never Been in Favor of the Embargo': US Senator Says in Visit With Cuban President

Published 5 June 2018

Senator Jeff Flake and Google's Eric Schmidt visited Cuba aiming to improve cooperation between the island and the U.S.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel welcomed U.S. Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Google's technical adviser Eric Schmidt, who used to be the technology giant's CEO.

During the meeting, President Diaz-Canel and the U.S. visitors discussed the bilateral relations between both countries and their possible “mutual interest” areas, according to Cuban State media.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was also present during the meeting, had already held conversations with Flake and Schmidt regarding the same issues, as well as the “negative” impact of Trump's administration foreign policies.


(Cuba watchers have known Arizona's Senator Jeff Flake has struggled steadily since at least as long ago as 2000 to get the U.S. to drop the travel ban and the economic war on Cubans, and he's even a Republican.)

Whale Found In Thailand Dies From Eating Over 80 Plastic Bags

06/03/2018 12:00 pm ET Updated 11 minutes ago

Rescuers unsuccessfully tried to nurse the male pilot whale back to health.
By Hayley Miller

A whale found in a canal in southern Thailand has died after eating more than 80 plastic bags, according to officials.

The small male pilot whale was barely alive when he was discovered on Monday in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said. Rescuers attempted to nurse the whale back to health, but he died on Friday after spitting up five plastic bags.

An autopsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.

Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the marine and coastal resources department, told Reuters that the whale likely thought the floating plastic bags were food.


"Sonic Weapon Attacks" on U.S. Embassy Don't Add Up--for Anyone

Cuban scientists and a new American report both shoot down a list of bizarre theories

By R. Douglas Fields on February 16, 2018

HAVANA—Heated charges have flown back and forth for months between the two countries that bracket the Strait of Florida. U.S. State Department officials contended Cuba staged a sonic attack on employees of the American embassy, causing a variety of neurological symptoms. Cuba has not only denied such an attack ever took place but has also emphasized the physical impossibility of a sound wave causing neurological damage trained on such a distant target.

But physicians and scientists fromM both countries now appear to be in agreement on one critical point: Both sides acknowledge they are baffled as to what happened to 24 embassy employees who were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain damage between November 2016 and August 2017.

The latest development is a preliminary publication in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association on Thursday, authored by the team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania who examined 21 of the U.S. government employees. The study, commissioned by the federal government, found the patients had suffered from concussionlike symptoms—but without any blunt trauma to the head. The medical issues varied widely among the patients, and included cognitive difficulties and problems with balance, eye tracking, sleep disturbances and headache.

Adding yet another element to the mystery, the new findings show normal MRI brain scans in all patients, and normal hearing in all but three individuals. The authors of the JAMA study also discount the likelihood of sonic injury, infection or toxic agents—and they even downplay the frequent suggestion of mass hysteria. Many of the findings in the new report echo a previous investigation carried out by Cuban officials.


Judge overturns jury verdict against Ex-Bolivian president

Updated 5:41 pm, Wednesday, May 30, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has overturned a jury decision that found a former president of Bolivia and his defense minister responsible for government killings during 2003 unrest.

U.S. Senior District Judge James Cohn upheld a defense motion Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to support an April verdict that included $10 million in damages in a lawsuit filed by Bolivians whose family members were among the dead.

The jury verdict had followed a nearly three-week trial of the civil suit in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jurors found against former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and his former defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain. Both live in the U.S.

The lawsuit was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes suits in the U.S. for extrajudicial killings.


~ ~ ~

If "former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada", or "Goni" didn't do order his soldiers to slaughter the protesters, why on earth did he flee to hide in the United States to evade the Bolivian law?

U.S. Senior District Judge James Cohn
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