Colombia:2 articles re paramilitary developments (Αγγλικά)

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Colombian Government advances negotiations with death squads By Maria Engqvist, ANNCOL Stockholm Talks between prominent bishops, Government envoys and death squad leaders might mark the first step toward legalization of Colombia's feared killer networks: the AUC On Monday, the Colombian Interior Justice Minister Fernando Londoño confirmed that contacts between the national government and the death squad umbrella organisation AUC (Colombian Self-defense Units) have been made toward an eventual formal negotiation process. The ultra-right criminal bands are nominally outlawed but are closely allied to the Colombian armed forces and are believed to enjoy support from sectors of the Colombian Congress especially the parliamentarians supporting extremist President Alvaro Uribe. The exact outcome of the negotiations are kept secret, but it is rumored that some kind of legalization of the death squads might be underway. Apparently certain prominent clergymen have participated in the talks According to the Prensa Latina news agency, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano, president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference (CEC), confirmed that some bishops met with the highest ranking death squad officers to explore a possible agreement. Monsignor Rubiano did not reveal the date of the meeting but said prelates attended it from Antioquia and Córdoba departments, where the AUC death squads have their main camps. ----------------------------------------------------- Five facts about the paramilitaries As recently reported, Colombian government officials are strengthening their contacts to the death squad umbrella organisation AUC. As a resource for our readers ANNCOL is pleased to provide a fact sheet prepared by Alfredo Castro dealing with the paramilitary death squads. 27.11.2002 (By Alfredo Castro, ANNCOL Colombia) Grouped under the AUC umbrella organisation, paramilitary death squads working with the army commit the vast majority of human rights abuses in Colombia. They are becoming strengthened by US military aid that flows to them via the Colombian armed forces. Members of the Colombian security forces are directly implicated in many paramilitary atrocities and reports of joint operations between the death squads and the Colombian army are common and well documented. The links are so close that Human Rights Watch refers to the paramilitaries as the “6th Division” – the Colombian army have only five divisions. Fact 1: The Colombian Commission of Jurists reported that in 2001 paramilitaries committed 82% of the more than 3,100 killings carried out in ‘non-combat’ attacks last year. In recent months, paramilitaries have shifted from high-profile massacres toward more targeted killings that do not draw as much international attention. Fact 2: The AUC is seeking to establish itself politically and has sympathisers in around one third of the seats in the Colombia Congress. During the presidential campaign that the extreme right-winger Alvaro Uribe Velez won earlier this year the paramilitaries threatened large numbers of people telling them that they must vote for Uribe and other paramilitary candidates. Fact 3: The paramilitaries are deeply involved in all phases of the drugs trade, operating cocaine laboratories and engaging directly in trafficking across Colombia’s borders. The paramilitaries also receive funding from wealthy individuals in Colombia including landowners, industrialists, bankers and media barons. Fact 4: The Colombian government has made no serious attempt to sever the links between the military and the paramilitaries or to impede paramilitary violence. Even in the most notorious cases of military-paramilitary collusion, the Colombian government has failed to prosecute military officers involved in paramilitary activity and those officers remain on active duty today. Notorious paramilitary bases continue to function without hindrance just minutes away from military posts. Fact 5: The US government is not addressing the paramilitary problem and while insisting that the Colombian government should be given a freer hand to use US military aid against the rebels they do not propose any plans to ensure that the US assistance will not further paramilitary violence. By continuing to deliver massive military aid packages without any human rights progress the US has sent the message to the Colombian military that breaking ties with paramilitary groups is not necessary. Both at: http://www.anncol.com ---------------------------------------------------

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