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The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Today's Press Briefing

August 29, 2000

Clinton Colombia TV Ad Hides Behind Drug War Opponent

Clinton Speech Mentions "Gabo" -- Author Gabriel García Marquéz -- in defending Plan Colombia. Gabo says legalization is the only solution.

US President also admits: "Profits from the drug trade fund civil conflict. Powerful forces make their own law, and you face danger every day..."

Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Costa Rica president -- also an advocate of legalization -- Oscar Arias condemns Plan Colombia

Text of Clinton's TV Speech Tonight in Colombia

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Muy buenas noches. Tomorrow morning I will travel to your country to bring a message of friendship and solidarity from the people of the United States to the people of Colombia, and a message of support for President Pastrana and for Plan Colombia.

I will be joined on my trip by the Speaker of our House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, and other distinguished members of our Congress. We come from different political parties, but we have a common commitment to support our friend, Colombia. As you struggle, with courage, to make peace, to build your economy, to fight drugs, and to deepen democracy, the United States will be on your side.

Some of the earliest stirrings of liberty in Latin America came in
Colombia, as the proud people of Cartagena, of Cali, of Bogota rose up one after the other to fight for independence. Now, nearly two centuries later, Colombia's democracy is under attack. Profits from the drug trade fund civil conflict. Powerful forces make their own law, and you face danger every day, whether you're sending your children to school, taking your family on vacation, or returning to your village to visit your mother or your father.

The literary genius you call Gabo, your Nobel Laureate, painted a portrait of this struggle in his book, "News of a Kidnapping." He presented me with a copy, and his book has touched my heart. Now I know why he said writing it was the saddest, most difficult task of his life. And yet, all across Colombia there are daily profiles in courage -- mayors, judges, journalists, prosecutors, politicians, policemen, soldiers, and citizens like you -- all have stood up to defend your democracy.

Colombia's journalists risk their lives daily to report the news so that powerful people feel the pressure of public opinion. Their courage is matched by the bravery of peace activists and human rights defenders; by reform-minded military leaders whose forces are bound by law, but who must do battle with thugs who subvert the law. There is also uncommon courage among the Colombian National Police. They face mortal danger every moment, as they battle against drug traffickers.

Tomorrow in Cartagena I will meet with members of the police and the military and also with widows of their fallen comrades. The people of Colombia are well-known for their resilience, their ability to adapt. But, my friends, enough is enough. We now see millions rising up, declaring no mas, and marching for peace, for justice, for the quiet miracle of a normal life.

That desire for peace and justice led to the election of President Pastrana. In the United States, we see in President Pastrana a man who has risked his life to take on the drug traffickers; who was kidnapped by the Medellin, but who kept speaking out. As President, he has continued to risk his life to help heal his country. He has built support across party lines for a new approach in Colombia. The United States supports President Pastrana, supports Plan Colombia, and supports the people of Colombia.

Let me be clear about the role of the United States. First, it is not for us to propose a plan. We are supporting the Colombian plan. You are leading; we are providing assistance as a friend and a neighbor.

Second, this is a plan about making life better for people. Our assistance includes a tenfold increase in our support for economic development, good governance, judicial reform, and human rights. Economic development is essential. The farmers who grow coca and poppy must have a way to make an honest living if they are to rejoin the national economy. Our assistance will help offer farmers credit and identify new products and new markets.

We will also help to build schoolrooms, water systems and roads for people who have lost their homes and their communities. Our assistance will do more to protect human rights. As President Pastrana said at the White House, there is no such thing as democracy without respect for human rights. Today's world has no place and no patience for any group that attacks defenseless citizens or resorts to kidnapping and extortion. Those who seek legitimacy in Colombian society must meet the standards of those who confer legitimacy, the good and decent people of Colombia.

Our package provides human rights training for the Colombian military and police, and denies U.S. assistance to any units of the Colombian security forces involved in human rights abuses or linked to abuses by paramilitary forces. It will fund human rights programs, help protect human rights workers, help reform the judicial system and improve prosecution and punishment.

Of course, Plan Colombia will also bolster our common efforts to fight drugs and the traffickers who terrorize both our countries. But please do not misunderstand our purpose. We have no military objective. We do not believe your conflict has a military solution. We support the peace process. Our approach is both pro-peace and anti-drug.

The concern over illegal drugs is deeply felt around the world. In my own country, every year more than 50,000 people lose their lives and many more ruin their lives because of drug abuse. Still the devastation of illegal drugs in Colombia is worse. Drug trafficking and civil conflict have led together to more than 2,500 kidnappings last year; 35,000 Colombians have been killed, and a million more made homeless in the past decade alone.

Drug trafficking is a plague both our nations suffer, and neither nation can solve on its own. Our assistance will help train and equip Colombia's counterdrug battalions to protect the National Police as they eradicate illicit drug crops and destroy drug labs. We will help the Colombian military improve their ability to intercept traffickers before they leave Colombia. We will target illegal airstrips, money- laundering and criminal organizations.

This approach can succeed. Over the last five years, the governments of Peru and Bolivia, working with U.S. support, have reduced coca cultivation by more than half in their own countries, and cultivation fell by almost one-fifth in the region as a whole.

Of course, supply is only one side of the problem. The other is demand. I want the people of Colombia to know that the United States is working hard to reduce demand here, and cocaine use in our country has dropped dramatically over the last 15 years. We must continue our efforts to cut demand, and we will help Colombia fight the problems aggravated by our demand.

We can, and we must, do this together. As we begin the new century, Colombia must face not 100 years of solitude, but 100 years of partnership for peace and prosperity.

Last year I met some of the most talented and adorable children in the world, from the village of Valledupar. Ten of them, some as young as six years old, came thousands of miles with their accordions and their drums, their bright-colored scarves and their beautiful voices, to perform for us here at the White House. They sang "El Mejoral." They sang "La Gota Fria." Everyone who heard them was touched. Those precious children come from humble families. They live surrounded by violence. They don't want to grow up to be narco traffickers, to be guerrillas, to be paramilitaries. They want to be kings of Vallenato. And we should help them live their dreams.

Thousands of courageous Colombians have given their lives to give us all this chance. Now is the moment to make their sacrifice matter. It will take vision; it will take courage; it will take desire. You have all three. In the midst of great difficulty, be strong of heart. En surcos de dolores, el bien germina ya.

Viva Colombia. Que Dios los bendiga.


Oscar Arias Statement Opposing Plan Colombia

"The United States has apparently learned nothing from the horrors
of El Salvador and Nicaragua, where vast amounts of military aid
only served to intensify conflicts that neither side was going to
win. Now, Congress and President Clinton have confirmed that
they will make the same error in Colombia by sending $1.3 billion,
almost all in military aid.

"Haven't the last 20 years shown us that as long as there is a
market for drugs in the United States, somebody will find a way to
get them there? Cutting down on the demand side in the United
States would do much more to curtail drug production than a
bloody military campaign. By providing military aid rather than
substantial social and economic assistance, the United States is
missing an opportunity to address the real roots of insurgency and
drug production in Colombia. "

Juan Gonzalez in NY Daily News Slams Plan Colombia

He reports on this week's massacres by Colombian paramilitary squads that Narco News brought to the world's attention

More updates later tonight

August 28, 2000

Countdown to Clinton in Colombia:

Plan Colombia: US Gift to Arms Traffickers and Mercenaries

Details of Plan Colombia's Covert CIA Operation

Mercenary project, now rejected by Chile, is likely to Receive "Logistical Support" from Argentina, according to counter-intelligence experts.

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

by Al Giordano

A covert operation, presumably by the US Central Intelligence Agency, that has recruited Brazilian, Central American and US soldiers-of-fortune to fight clandestinely in Colombia was dealt a severe blow last week, The Narco News Bulletin has learned.

The covert operation, first reported in October 1999 by the respected Brazilian newsweekly Istoé, originally had planned to use Chilean airfields to ship smuggled arms and mercenary soldiers into Colombia.

During US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's recent lobbying trip to Santiago de Chile, the government of that nation announced, privately and publicly: Chile will not lend "logistical support" for that or any other military part of Plan Colombia, covert or overt.

Albright, in her five-day, five-country, tour, went to Argentina where President Fernando de la Rua broke with all of Latin America by pledging "logistical support" for the $1.3 billion US-imposed Plan Colombia. I

In the analysis of top investigators in the field of counter-intelligence consulted by Narco News, this signals that the covert mercenary flights originally slated to leave from Chilean airstrips, are now likely to utilize Argentina's territory instead.

This development -- one of many recent setbacks for Plan Colombia -- is due to the change in government in Chile. In elections early this year, the Chilean people ousted the party of General Augusto Pinochet and chose Ricardo Lagos -- former official in the government of assassinated president Salvador Allende -- as president. Allende had been deposed and assassinated in 1973 by a US-backed military coup.

This story contains the facts about the illegal covert mercenary operation now underway as part of Plan Colombia. This project, hidden from the American people, must also be understood in its geo-political context.

The Geo-Political Context Provoked by "Plan Colombia"

Latin American leaders and members of Civil Society across the hemisphere -- with the exception of Argentina's government and Colombia's increasingly isolated President Andrés Pastrana -- have rejected US government pressures to offer military and "logistical" support to the military plan to defeat the Colombian guerrilla movements. US officials continue to deny that the goal is counter-insurgency and have thinly disguised their intervention as an "anti-drug" plan.

Indeed, as Narco News reported in our July 31 interview with exiled Colombian journalist Alfredo Molano, Plan Colombia has hidden, more regional, agendas, among them to decentralize cocaine trafficking throughout South and Central America, thus bringing more pretexts to intervene in the affairs of the fledgling Latin American union.

Lagos, in an interview yesterday with the Brazilian daily El Globo, threw down the gauntlet to other Latin American leaders: "One day soon, Latin America must speak with one voice," Lago told the Brasilia daily. "We are betting on continential integration."

On the eve of US President Bill Clinton's August 30th visit to Cartagena, Colombia, Chilean President Lagos set his sites on more significant events that will take place in the following days:

-- On August 31 and September 1, the leaders of 12 Latin American countries will meet in Brasilia. And Lagos has placed a European Union-style alliance at the top of the Summit docket.

-- On September 6, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will address the United Nations in New York City. He will arrive in New York on September 4 with high-profile media appearances and, according to today's edition of the Caracas daily El Norte, place two themes back on the American agenda: the marginalization of the poor, and the sovereignty of American nations.

Chávez has increasingly frustrated efforts by Washington and official US media outlets to marginalize him: According to Human Rights Watch, Venezuela under Chávez was the only American nation to improve human rights within its borders in 1999, and drastically so.

Chávez, this year, became the first American head-of-state ever to cancel an election he was bound to win handily because fair election safeguards were not yet in place. The system was corrected, a new election was held, and Chávez won a six-year term by a punishing margin.

In a recent foreign policy speech, US Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, pointed out the source of the worry among both Washington political parties: "America is right to be concerned about Kuwait -- but more of our oil comes from Venezuela."

The entrance of Chile's Lagos into the fray creates distinct problems for Washington. The high visibility of the judicial proceedings against former dictator Pinochet, coupled with Lagos' image as a democratic leader strongly identified with the former Allende government, give Lagos more elbow room to organize the hemisphere into a new geopolitical power. Lagos also has many friends and contacts among US members of Congress. As a known quantity, he cannot be easily marginalized.

But before Lagos took office, US officials in Washington and Langley had a different plan for Chile regarding the long-plotted Plan Colombia intervention.

"Mercenaries Made in Brazil"

Here is the text of last October's investigative report by Istoé magazine, translated from the original Portuguese to English by The Narco News Bulletin:

from the Brazilian newsweekly Istoé, October 20, 1999

Original article in Portuguese can be found on the internet:

"Mercenaries Made in Brazil"

"Pilots and combatants are being contracted in Rio de Janeiro
to fight against the FARC and/or drug trafficking in Colombia"

by Mário Chimanovitch
Istoé magazine, October 20, 1999

A secret operation to recruit Brazilian mercenaries -- pilots
and combatants -- to fight against the guerrilla and/or drug
traffic in the jungles of Colombia is now underway in Brazil.

Military aviators (reserve officers) and unemployed civil
pilots who like a lot of adventure and a lot of money are being
contacted in Rio de Janeiro. The pilots can make from $10,000
to $12,000 US dollars per mission. The recruitment demands
references: the candidate must have known contacts and be
willing to furnish them. In the past, he must have participated
in risky missions, such as those that occured in Angola between
1992 and 1994, when the socialist government of the Popular
Liberation Movement (MPLA) fought, and now fights again,
a bloody war against the UNITA of Jonas Savimbi, strongly
armed by South Africa.

It is not known exactly who is behind this recruitment
operation but there exist strong indications that it is
being conducted by the Division of Clandestine Operations
of the CIA, the US intelligence service. Istoé was able
to interview two enlistees.

A professional of civil aviation, currently unemployed,
revealed that pilots who don't have experience flying the
Hercules C-130 transport plane -- that will be used in
missions bringing men, arms and supplies to forces that
combat against the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed
Forces) and against drug trafficking -- receive a kit
that includes a computer simulation program about this

With or without the computer program, a pilot trains
for four to six hours a day. Next, or upon enlistment, he
participates in missions as co-pilot of the Hercules C-130
and as pilot of a DC-8. Once familiar with the plane, the
mercenaries travel to Chile, from where they will carry out
missions to Colombia, from a military base not revealed to
the pilots.

Before participating, he must sign a contract that obliges
him, in case of death or accident, not to claim financial
compensation. "The contract doesn't include life insurance.
Each one goes into combat at his own risk. His family must
sign a document that promises not to demand financial
compensation in case of death or accident and neither to
reclaim the recruit's body in case of death," he revealed.

The pilot, who says he doesn't like to be called
a mercenary, told Istoé that in the past he participated
in Angola operatinos, the majority of times under extreme
adverse conditions. "We would arrive with arms and equipment
under close fire. We would land and take-off very rapidly,
staying only a few minutes. We would arrive with a Hercules
on airstrips that were many times precarious and under
machine-gun and mortar fire. We would land and take-off
immediately," he said, admitting that if he had died in
an accident, his name would not be revealed.

The pilot affirmed that the group being recruited now
for missions in Colombia is practically the same that
operated in Angola. He acknowledged that a recent by the
representative of UNITA in Portugal, from where Brazilian
mercenary pilots combatted against the guerrilla of
Savimbi on the side of the Angolan armed forces, could
be true. This fact was denied by Brazil's
ambassador to (the Angolan capital of) Luanda, Jorge
Taunay, when last week the UNITA began to attack
Brazilian interests in Angola.

According to UNITA, "Vietnam sold Tucano aircraft
to Brazil for Angola, used by pilots of the government
of (Angolan) President José Eduardo dos Santos, that
always survives thanks to the support of foreign
mercenaries who attack defenseless populations."

Taunay acknowledged that Brazil, in fact, sold
planes to Angola, "with the goal of training pilots
and making reconaissance missions."

The pilot said that "the group that is going to
operate in Colombia includes Vietnam veterans who will
work with others from Central America (principally
Nicaragua, on the side of the Contras, and also El
Salvador)." He revealed that the planes that will be used
in missions against the FARC or drug traffic (C-130 and
DC-8) belong to an American who executes missions for
the CIA and are stored in hangars located in South Africa.
"I am informed that there are ten planes, no more than
six of which will be used for the Colombian operation,"
he said, insisting that he could not give more details
or he would risk being killed.

The take-offs in Chile and entrance over Colombian
airspace will be "unofficial," which is to say: with
the knowledge of the Colombian authorities but not
officially registered.

Meanwhile, on the eve of Clinton's Colombian visit, US officials continue their efforts to pressure other Latin American governments to participate in Plan Colombia. Note the veiled threats inherent in the US Ambassador's statements regarding US anti-narcotics certification and Panama's participation in Plan Colombia.

From El Universal of Panamá

Monday, August 28, 2000:

"Panama's Participation Would Improve its Qualification"

By Darsy Santamaría Vega/El Universal

US Ambassador to Panamá, Simón Ferro, said that Panama's participation in Plan Colombia can only improve its position among the nations of the continent that lead the efforts against drug trafficking and money laundering.

"We trust that it will improve the position and already exceptional qualification that Panama has at a regional and international level in the anti-drug fight," he said.

Ferro indicated that "if the decision were mine, I would say that the chances are very good and Panama has not lost terrain in the anti-drug fight, because it has always demonstrated that is is fighting shoulder to shoulder with its neighbor countries."

The diplomat indicated that Panama has always cooperated enormously with teh United States and other countries in the anti-drug fight, in a manner that is should be maintained with the certification that his country delivers every year. In recent days, Ambassador Ferro announced that soon his government will meet with Panamanian authorities to determine the use of $5 million dollars that the US will deliver to Panama as part of Plan Colombia.

At the same time, Ferro indicated that Panama must decide what type of cooperation it will solicit from the US in the area of security and if that will include training of troops, it must negotiate an agreement to give special status to US personnel that travel to our country.

The diplomat detailed that the list delivered by Panamanian minister of government Winston Spadafora in which he solicited $30 million was very ambitious for the capacity of Panama's infrastructure. He said, "This is a pie of $30 million that must be shared with all the countries that border Colombia, and the $5 million that Panama is going to receive will be much more than what the rest of the countries will receive."

from the daily El Espectador, Bogotá, Colombia

Sunday, July 27, 2000:

"The Arsenal of the FARC and the ELN"

By Julian Ríos Rojas

The guerrillias of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have in their possession 45,208 weapons. This was claimed by reports of State security agencies that also warned that every month, for maritime routes from Ecuador, no less than a ton of arms and explosives enter the country for the subversives.

The report, obtained by El Espectador, was elaborated this week after last Monday's scandal propitiated by the president of Perú. Alberto Fujimori said that Jordanian arms traffickers, working with low ranking military members of his country, intruduced 10,000 weapons into Colombia for the FARC (see graphic).

According to the documents, the FARC have 31,813 arms and the ELN 13,395. But how do these weapons enter Colombia? By land, sea and air the smugglers send the war materials from Panamá (the most active route), Nicaragua, Honduras and Ecuador. The reports also include as sources Perú, Brazil, Venezuela, Surinam, the United States, Guatemala and El Salvador.

From Perú come FAL and G-3 rifles and MAK machine guns into Colombia. On some of these weapons shields and symbols of the Republican Guard of Perú have appeared. In some cases the arms are tossed from the air onto Colombian territory. Still, the majority of times the arms are sent from Perú and Ecuador by land.

From Venezuela, say the intelligence reports, enter arms and munitions from the Company Anónima Venezolana Industrial de Municiones (CAVIN). From Brazil come armaments of the Tauros pistol and cartridge factory. In this route, as middlement, appear arms traffickers of Surinam.

From the United States, the reports say that semi-automatic rifles come to Colombia. US arms traffickers have succeeded in smuggling Egyptian rifles of the Maladi Company and Norninco rifles, made in China.

The Prices:

According to the reports, in the Colombian black market these are the prices of the arms most utlized in the war:

AK-47 rifle $3 million Colombian pesos

R-15 rifle $4,5 million pesos

G'3 $3,5 million pesos

FAL $4.2 million pesos

UZI and Mini-Uzi submachine guns $2.5 million pesos

In exchange for the arms, according to the reports, the guerrilla or paramilitary groups offer cash or drugs. Also common in recent times is that ranchers or businessmen are kidnapped and arms are demanded to return them to liberty.

Another press report from today shows a different method of arms smuggling -- contraband as "ant's work" -- being brought in very small shipments, this time by sea, utilizing underwater storage facilities.

The price here of an AK-47 rifle is listed in dollars: $1,200.

San Andrés is a small island in the Caribbean that is part of Colombian territory.

The demand for these arms and the existence of large sums of money to purchase them is a direct consequence of US-imposed drug prohibition.


Monday, August 28, 2000

from El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia

Weapons: Underwater Storage Box Found on the Island

Russian rifles seized in San Andrés

Nine Russian-made AK-47 rifles, that form part of an arsenal that must have been shipped with a guerrilla group as its destination, were siezed yesterday by agents of the National Police in San Andrés.

The arms, hidden in an underwater box, 40 feet deep near the famous Hoyo Soplador, was guarded from a boat by two men that were shot at by police and escaped.

According to the commander of the National Police in San Andrés, Colonel Jairo Agudelo, the rifles entered the island by sea, where an illegal transaction was made to transport them later to the Atlantic coast. Each rifle costs some $1,200 in the black market.

Sunday, August 27, 2000

From El Espectador, Bogotá, Colombia

Column by Alfredo Molano

Alfredo Molano

"Certification? or Endorsment?"

Is the "national interest" of the United States legitimate to give impunity to the paramilitaries and support the illegal activities of the military?

...In the 1980s, some 70% of human rights violations were committed by Public Forces; 20 percent by the guerrilla and 10% by the paramilitaries. Today, the guerrilla preserves its quota, the military has reduced its by about 10% or less, and the paramilitaries have increased their share by 70% or more.

...while the victims -- that are of greater numbers every day -- say: What does it matter to us if we are killed by official weapons, or those of the paramilitaries that enjoy impunity, or those of the guerrilla forces that the State has not succeeded in reducing? It's reality, a cruel and hard reality: the partial certification that the Colombian government received from Clinton is equivalent to a patent endorsement delivered below the table to the paramilitary groups, the prinicipal responsible party of the violation of human rights.

...It cannot be explained that the US State Department, that has an assistant secretary for human rights , backs the Military Forces with $960 million dollars that has assassinated in front of the world only a week beforehand six children? How can they accept the explanation of the Colombian military, that what happened was that the guerrilla shot from behind the line of schoolchildren? ...How can they believe those generals that lied in a calculated and cynical manner in the case of the necklace bomb?...

It is certain, as the State Department justifies, that criminal practices so common are not ended in a couple of months . But it is less certain that to certify them for the future -- based on the promises that the high command makes and the unquestionable good will of the president -- knowing their long and sinister history, is simply, and plainly, to certify a dirty war.

Monday, August 28, 2000

From El Tiempo, Bogotá


Among the victims were three brothers, a nurse, to workers and two packagers

Some people were kidnapped by unknown persons

By Tonny Pérez Mier

Special Correspondent, El Tiempo Caribbean Bureau

CIÉNAGA (MAGDALENA) During two hours, 70 men of the Peasant Self-Defense of Colombia (AUC, the leading paramilitary group) put four blocks of the neighborhood of El Polvorín, a residential zone in the south of Ciénega, under siege. After taking more than 20 people from their homes they assassinated ten with gunshots and kidnapped four more.

According to the townspeople, some victims had been warned that a "social cleansing" would happen in the area. However, this report was not officially confirmed.

At 2:30 a.m. yesterday, the paramilitaries came to the neighborhood in five vehicles, including two trucks... Minutes later began the worst massacre committed in this urban area of 70,000 inhabitants...

The armed group escaped two hours later and brought four persons whose identities are not known.

Monday, August 28, 2000

from El Colombiano, Medellín, Colombia

28 People Massacred

According to authorities, the AUC paramilitaries entered Ciénaga and Buenaventura

Ciénaga, Magdalena; Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca; Barrancabermeja, Santander, and Remedios, Antioquia, were shaken yesterday by violence after armed groups in summary judgements killed 28 people during various incursions into popular neighborhoods...

...Direct witnesses said that the killers accused the victims of collaborating and helping the guerrilla groups that operate in the zone.

August 27, 2000

Clinton on the Defensive

Albright, Pickering, Berger, failed to convince, so the White House has trotted out the big gun to defend Plan Colombia

Photo from El Colombiano: Security Forces Take their Positions over Cartagena for Clinton's Wednesday Visit

(includes Q. and A. session after briefing)

Translations from the Latin Américan press of what is really happening with the US-imposed Plan Colombia

And yet these stories go largely unreported in the English-language press

Today's Reports from: Bogotá, Colombia and Carácas, Venezuela.

Today's Summary: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, assistant secretary Thomas Pickering and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger have made such a mess of "The Selling of Plan Colombia" that the White House brought out the big gun.

Bill Clinton gave an interview with the Colombian magazine Cambio (of Gabriel García Marquéz, an opponent of drug prohibition but also friend of the US president) in which he insisted that Plan Colombia was not a military plan, and was a Colombian plan.

On the same day, he was contradicted by Plan supporter and ex-Colombian president César Gaviria, who Washington placed as director of the Organization of American States. Gaviria says it is a military plan.

And the Venezuelan government drew its sharpest distinction yet: It supports the Colombian Plan Colombia and its social programs and crop substitution efforts, but Venezuela now officially opposes the US-imposed military portion of the Plan.

Sunday, August 27, 2000

From the Colprensa News Agency

"There Will Not Be Military Intervention"

Bill Clinton says that support for Colombia is exclusively for the anti-drug fight

US President Bill Clinton denied the possibility that his country would intervene militarily in the Colombian conflict and said that the support for Colombia is exclusively for the anti-drug fight.

That's what he said in an interview with Cambio magazine, to which he also said, "I don't believe that the Colombian internal conflict has the propensity to expand to other countries in the region."

According to Clinton, "this is a Colombian internal conflict and there will not be military intervention by the United States. Our support is strictly limited to anti-narcotics activities and is not aimed to support the counter-insurgent fight. What we support is the peace process. In sum, our focus is pro-peace and anti-drugs."

As for the human rights situation in the country, he said the he believes in the efforts of the national government to protect them, and that one example of that is the presidential directive last week (predicted by Colprensa) "that orders that those members of the Military Forces that have been accused of commiting abuses of human rights in the country will be processed in civil trials."

The US leader, who will make an eight hour visit to Cartagena next Wednesday, also said that the United States supports, "Plan Colombia, designed by Colombians"....

Sunday, August 27, 2000

Venezuela Official Doesn't Believe Clinton:

"There are Two Plan Colombias"

CARACAS (AP, ANSA and AFP news agencies).- The Venezuelan foreign minister José Rangel said that Plan Colombia, an ambitious program of development and anti-drug fighting that seeks to erradicate some 120,000 hectares of coca and poppy, has two versions.

"The Plan Colombia, the version designed by Colombians, is a social plan, a plan of crop substitution, a plan to improve the infrastructure. We don't have any objection to that plan. From our point of view it seems excellent," said Rangel. "But there is also the US version of the plan, that is very accented toward the military, and this worries us, because an armed escalation can have truly nefarious implications for Ecuador, Panamá, Brazil and Venezuela, we, the countries that share borders with Colombia."

The Brazilian government also expressed its worry over the risks of the probably transfer of the armed Colombian conflict into its territory because of the entrance of Plan Colombia....

For its part, a coalition of humanitarian organizations that has called for a Colombia peace conference in Costa Rica in October, said on Satuday that the application of the anti-drug plan designed by Bogotá will aggravate the crisis of basic guarantees in the Andean country. "We agree to refuse the plan of anti-drug combat, considering it a political and economic strategy that increases the armed conflict and aggravates the humanitarian crisis," they expressed in a communiqué by Paz Colombia... which will present at its conference in San José, Costa Rica, October 17-19, "proposals for integral and multilateral social solutions to the problem of illicit crops; that they consult the communities involved in this illegal economy without criminalizing the small producers (of coca and poppy)." This coalition includes Non Governmental Organizations of the jungle state of Putumayo (on the southern border with Ecuador and Perú)....

Sunday, August 27, 2000

Popular Protests in Cartagena Grow Against the Clinton Visit

Combined wire reports of Afp, Dpa, Ap y Reuters, Santafé de Bogotá: The security operation has deployed 5,000 troops as well as 200 to 400 US officials and security agents, supported by the robot "Andrews II", designed to detect explosives in cars, buildings, public plazas and other strategic sites.

Yesterday afternoon dozens of union, community and student leaders protested in Cartagena in rejection of the Clinton visit, with slogans against "US imperialism," and "vivas" for Colombia, for liberty and sovereignty in the South American country. Their protests were peaceful and against the US military anti-drug aid.

In fact, the US anti-drug program of $1.3 billion is provoking a strong refusal not only among wide sectors of Colombian civil society and the insurgent forces, but also worry on the part of the countries of the region, principally Venezuela, Brazil, Perú and Panamá.

Sunday, August 27, 2000

from the daily El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia

Plan Colombia: "A Military Strategy"

Ex-President César Gaviria Responds to the FARC's Questions

Exclusive interview by El Tiempo with the ex-president and Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) who decided to respond to the FARC's accusations. Last Sunday this daily published an article about the charges by the guerrilla against Gavarismo

By Hernando Corral G.
Political Editor of EL TIEMPO

...the ex-president would have preferred to remain silent so as not to appear to be interfering in domestic political afairs, but the persistant criticisms and accusations by the FARC obliged Gaviria to respond....

Q. Mr. Ex-President: How do you explain the... accusations of the FARC against you and what could be called Gavarismo?

A. As I have publicly expressed at other times, there is no political sector that follows my directions. The connection between my collaborators now in charge of the Pastrana administration has been freely decided by the President without making any pact or negotiation with me....

Q. The FARC say privately that Gavarismo took over from Camilo Gómez, the peace commissioner. What relation do you have with Mr. Gómez? Did they co-opt him into Gavarismo?

A. I have not talked three minutes in my entire life with Camilo Gómez. He hasn't the slightest idea what I think of the peace process. I have not listened, not from his mouth nor that of any collaborator of the government, to a report on the state of these negotiations....

I can't imagine how the FARC has come to the conclusion without lacking respect for its adversary, President Pastrana, who, I have no doubt, will accept all the responsibility for the conduction of the peace policy. I have tended to think that there are some people close to the government and to the FARC that are stupidly trying to relieve the president of this responsibility...

Q. What do you think of Plan Colombia? Do you believe that it is basically a military strategy?

A. Colombia has had the fatal luck of a surge in the connections between some guerrilla fronts and drugs or between paramilitaries and the activity of drug trafficking. The problem of the guerrillas is a problem of the Colombian people and we must resolve it by seeking military preeminence and for the path of negotiation. But the drug trafficking problem is of an international character and because of this we have demanded cooperation from the community of nations. The president has succeeded in attracting an exceptionally large volume of support to detain an uncontrolled process of coca leaf farming....

I hope the FARC also has the intelligence not to interfere in the erradication process and instead cooperates in the alternative development programs. Plan Colombia would disappear as soon as that would happen.

The degree to which, yes, Plan Colombia is only a military strategy is because the military part is without a doubt its principal component, above all in its relation to aerial transport of equipment. our organization (OAS), there is not unity, there are countries that have distanced themselves from Plan Colombia, as can be verified in some news stories... I'm a simple spectator.

August 26, 2000

Saturday's Press Briefing:

Massacres, Flag Burnings, on Eve of Clinton in Colombia

Saturday's Press Reports from: Cartagena, Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador, Mexico City and Washington, DC

Saturday's Summary: President Bill Clinton's planned visit to Colombia on Wednesday has provoked:

-- Complete impunity by the right-wing paramilitaries, who conducted three different massacres in the past two days, with the smug knowledge that Plan Colombia won't touch them. The paramilitaries are of fiesta. They know that Plan Colombia will, instead, go after left-wing guerrillas and peasant farmers. Not a word, so far, in the US press about the massacres.

-- Marches and US Flag Burnings continue in Cartagena, the city that Clinton will visit on Wednesday; wide social rejection of his visit and of Plan Colombia. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also declared Clinton "persona non grata." Again, nothing in the US media.

-- Assistant US Secretary of State Thomas Pickering lost his cool in response to critiques by neighbor countries and warned them to silence their criticisms. His embarrassing statements were not published on the US State Department web site.

-- A bi-national front of local and state officials from the Ecuador-Colombia border have united in opposition to herbicide spraying, citing the damage that will be done to the fragile Amazon ecosystem.

Saturday, August 26, 2000

"Paramilitaries Massacre 25 peasants in Meta"

"Five more assassinated in the State of Sucre"

From "El Tiempo" of Bogotá/GDA y Agencias

BOGOTÁ.- A paramilitary squad of the ultra-right assassinated 25 peasants in a rural Colombian area called Puerto Concordia, in the eastern state of Meta, inhabitants and authorities of the area denounced yesterday.

The public defendor of Puerto Concordia, Jorge Franco, said that according to versions of workers present, presumed members of United Self-Defense of Colombia (AUC) killed 25 inhabitants of the rural zone called El Pororio. The official indicated that the authorities have not been able to reach the place to verify the facts that allegedly happened 300 kilometers to the southeast of Bogotá, because they run the risk of being attacked by armed groups. He asked for assistance from the Red Cross to enter the zone.

Franco reminded that the police vigilance in this area was retired, a zone were the guerrilla and the paramilitaries are in combat.

The public defender of the state of Meta, Rocío López, said that the officials of Puerto Concordia are more likely repeating rumors, because due to the fact that a majority of inhabitants of El Pororio fled, the facts cannot be confirmed.

...It is also known that presumed paramilitaries of the AUC, armed with rifles, executed five peasants yesterday after violently dragging them from a vehicle in the North of the country. The police confirmed that the massacre occured near the town of Colosó, in the Caribbean state of Sucre, a zone with a strong AUC (paramilitary) presence, say the authorities...

from El Colombiano of Medellín

"15 people massacred in three regions"

Authorities confirmed yesterday the massacre of 15 peasants, allegedly perpetrated by commandos of the United Self Defense of Colombia (AUC) in parts of Meta, Sucre and Antioquia states.

...The police of Sucre informed that another brigade of the AUC broke into the town of Colosó and assassinated six peasants that they accused of supporting the guerrilla.

...In La Piedra, town of Vegachí in the northeast of Antioquia state, a group of paramilitaries assassinated the peasants Juan Henes Martínez, 25, Oscar de Jesús Moreno Tamayo, 27, and Ramiro de Jesús Arango Arias, 44.

from El Universal of Cartagena

"Union Workers March Against the Arrival of Bill Clinton"

"They Burned a United States Flag"

"Surprise Participant in the March: Cartagena Mayoral Candidate"

The members of the Workers Centers reiterated that the protests will continue until August 30th, the day that Clinton lands on Cartagenara soil, in spite of the official ban on protests

By ANÍBAL THERÁN TOM; El Universal: The burning of a United States flag marked the message of the first protest march against the visit of President Bill Clinton to this country on August 30th. "Down with Yankee Imperialism! For a Sovereign Colombia, Out Gringos! No to Plan Colombia!" were the slogans of combat used yesterday by the members of dozens of unions, affiliates of worker centers, who marched yesterday afternoon from San Felipe Castle to near the Peace Plaza, in front of the legendary Watch Tower.

Although joining the march were students, civic leaders and common people and currents, the surprise of the day was given by Cartegena mayoral candidate Javier Bustillo Pertuz , who said that the visit of Clinton should not be an excuse to harrass street sellers and the citizenry, prohibiting them to open their stores and walk in the City's center.

...The action called the attention of the Marine infantry that guarded the historic city center, and they closed the pass to the marchers. Later came the speeches of union leaders, who demonstrated their opposition to the so-called Plan Colombia.

From Bogota - EL TIEMPO

Saturday, August 26, 2000

US: "Plan Colombia is Precisely to Avoid a Regional Problem"

"Washington Scolds Our Neighbors"

Washington Correspondent of EL TIEMPO

"The most efffective way to lead with this problem, which is of great relevance to the region, is to confront it together. Those that have expressed their criticisms don't seem to understand that the goal of Plan Colombia is precisely to avoid that the Colombian situation becomes a greater problem for the entire region. Also, those that speak against it are not offering alternatives, except to let the problems destroy Colombia with the hope that they don't arrive in the other countries. If they believe that this is the case they must also believe in fairy tales."

With these declarations the US assistant secretary of state for political affairs Thomas Pickering confronted yesterday the agitated controversy that has surged after some neighbor countries expressed their fears that Plan Colombia will end up pushing drug trafficking towards the borders and cause the exodus of thousands of peasants....

"It's not possible to guarantee that the plan will not have effects (on neighbor countries," said Pickering. It is possible that people will cross over into other countries. From the Putumayo to Ecuador, for example. Because of this the Plan contemplates alternatives so that these people have other options than illicit crops," said Pickering.

From EL COMERCIO, Quito, Ecuador

Wednesday August 23, 2000

"On the Border: There is no money for possible refugees"

"In Sucumbíos nocturnal surveillance flights are heard"

The assembly of this province and the mayors of three towns of Putumayo, Colombia, have formed a bi-national front to oppose the fumigations

In the region, the populace asks about the true nature, execution and impact of Plan Colombia but nobody or very few have received any response.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR) has met on six occassions with the authorities of the province.

This organization will construct four centers for possible refugees of the conflict... There will be accepted... 5,000 refugees.

(The bi-national assembly) "refuses the execution of Plan Colombia "because it is considered an interference by the US in themes that are strictly Colombian.

From La Jornada, Mexico City, from wire reports

August 25, 2000:

"Guerrilla Declares Clinton 'persona non grata' in Colombia"

"The FARC warns of the Vietnamization of the Conflict"

From wire reports of Ap, Dpa, Afp and Reuters, Santafé de Bogotá, August 25, 2000:

Declaring Clinton as "persona non grata" in his visit to Cartagena on August 20th, the FARC said that the US leader "does not come with a song of peace. He does not come to back efforts for a political solution to the conflict, nor to suspend the soulless policies of the International Monetary Fund."...(A FARC communique said) Beyond being a counter-insurgency plan, Plan Colombia is "a program against Colombia that serves the geopolitical empire."


Friday, August 25, 2000

Today's Press Reports from: Bogotá, Colombia; Washington, DC and Amman, Jordan (with continued inexplicable policy at the Miami Herald to publish key stories in its Spanish language edition while withholding the news from US readers)

Today's Summary: With Colombia's President Pastrana increasingly isolated from other Latin American leaders, and lashing out at them, plans proceed for US President Bill Clinton's visit to Colombia on August 30th with 70 US officals and more than 400 security, communications and support staff.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- the FARC -- are armed and ready to shoot down US helicopters, reports El Nuevo Herald.

Meanwhile, from Amman, Jordan, the Jordanian government admits having sold arms to Perú that were seized en route to the Colombian guerrilla.

From the daily El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia

Friday, August 25, 2000

"Colombia: Harsh Refusal of Criticisms by Neighbor Countries"

"Government Demands that they Respect Plan"

"We hope that Venezuela doesn't return to diplomacy by microphone," said Colombian foreign minister Guillermo Fernández

Brazil Warns about the negative effects of fumigations on the Amazon environment

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA: The government of President Andrés Pastrana yesterday broke with the criticisms made by Venezuelan foreign minister José Vicente Rangel against Plan Colombia, and at the same time tried to dissipate the fears that exist by the governments of neighbor countries on the same theme.

In the first place, President Pastrana said that it would be bad for a government to leave the border zones in complete abandonment because "yes, in fact, the drug trafficking would cross into the neighbor countries."

"If we were to do nothing we would run the risk that drug trafficking takes over the entire continent," said the President.

On his part, foreign minister Gullermo Fernández de Soto, in response to his Venezualan counterpart José Vicente Rangel -- who yesterday afternoon expressed is worry over possible massive displacements of Colombians as a consequence of the Plan -- demanded not only of Venezuela but of the international community, respect for the Plan.

"The Colombian government has delivered all the information relating to Plan Colombia. What the government cannot accept is that the Plan would be stigmatized by any country or that they speak badly of Plan Colombia. This is a lack of respect for Colombia. Colombia doesn't accept it from anyone because it is a Plan of the Colombians and for the Colombians," said Fernández de Soto yesterday in the Casa de Nariño.

Hours later, in Caracas, foreign minister Rangel explained that his government has been very moderate, but it cannot stop expressing its concern over the theme of the displaced people. "We are friends with the government of Colombia and very soon we're going to Brasilia in the Summit of Latin American Presidents and there we will dance the samba," he said to journalists.

...Yesterday, the new Ambassador of the United States in Colombia, Anne Patterson, after presenting her credentials, referred to the issue.

"There is a budget in Plan Colombia to help other countries, the neighbor countries, to confront the challenges. I believe it is a little exaggerated, this thing of the effect of the Plan in the neighbor countries, but we are very conscious of the fears of the neighbor countries and we are going to do what we can to help them," she said.

Ecuador, Brazil and Panamá

In the middle of all this, the president of Ecuador, Gustavo Noboa, before ending his official visit to Colombia reiterated that his country respects Plan Colombia because it is about an internal program of the Colombian government.

"What we don't want is that any effect becomes amplified. For this we have created an executive agency of social and sustainable development in the border with Colombia, but we don't predict at this moment any tragic consequence for the Ecuadorians and the country," he said.

Last night, Brazilian foreign minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia expressed that his country fears the the use of chemical agents to erradicate the illicit crops in Colombia will have a nefarious environmental impact on the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the Panamanian minister of government and justice, Winston Spadafora, said "it would not be be convenient" that Plan Colombia goes forward, owing to the fact that Panama is obligated to invest more in security at the Colombian border.

"Although we are not in conditions to decide if this Plan will happen or not, I personally believe that it would be better if it didn't happen," said Spadafora.

Washington: "If there is no plan, there will be collapse"

..."It is difficult to sustain a democracy in the middle of an insurgency and the corrosive power of drug trafficking. It is very difficult to imagine that Colombian democracy would survive with these problems. Colombia is a difficult place, for this I believe that we either help this country in an effort to solve its problems or we will see the collapse of democracy," said White House National Security Advisor of the Clinton administration, Sandy Berger.

"This is the vital moment. With moral and financial support I believe we can make the difference," said the advisor in a press briefing yesterday...

"We Will Not Dialogue with the FARC"

"The policy of the United States toward the FARC is very clear: We're not going to have, on the part of our government, contact with the FARC until they deliver to justice the assassins of the American workers," the new Ambassador of the US in Colombia, Anne Patterson, said in her first official declarations to the Colombian press yesterday.

In effect, since the FARC assassinated the US indigenous workers Ingrid Washinawatok, Larry Gay Lahe'ena'e and Terence Freitas, in the beginning of last year, the US froze any possibility of compromise with the guerrilla....

Patterson, in a brief speech read in the Casa de Nariñó, said that both countries confront grave challenges related to the war on drugs....

From El Nuevo Herald

Friday, August 25, 2000

(Again today, like yesterday, the Miami Herald published a report from Bogotá in its Spanish edition that was withheld from its English language readers. Again, we ask: Why?)

"The FARC is Ready for the Anti-Air War"

By Gonzalo Guillen, Bogotá

The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) possess an anti-aerial arsenal of Soviet-made RPG and SA missiles, accumulated in recent years and could be used in the coming anti-guerrilla and anti-drug war that Colombia will begin soon in the south of the country with the support and direction of the United States.

These weapons, similar to US Stinger missiles, were acquired in exchange for "hundreds of thousands of tons of cocaine" paid in a complex international network that included diplomats and crime syndicates of Russia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Perú, Spain, Jordan and Brazil, according to a military intelligence report cited last April by the online daily

Colombian military intelligence sources, for their part, told El Nuevo Herald that they have not confirmed the possession of any type of anti-air arms in the hands of the guerrillas, although they have received imprecise reports from informants who say the FARC has those rockets, but until now has not used them, if it does have them.

The RPG (Grenade Propulsed Rockets) and the SA (Surface to Air missiles), of greater power, were used in Somalia, where they downed Blackhawk helicopters, which Colombia will recieve in a package of 18.

The Somalia experience demonstrated the the RPG don't need to hit the target. It's enough that they pass near the tail of the helicopter to down it. Also, these projectiles can be managed by people without major training over their use, as was the case with Somalian guerrillas.

The flow of Soviet arms to the FARC, discovered in April by and in June widened by El Nuevo Herald, today causes discord between Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and the Colombian defense minister. Two days ago Fujimori described in a press conference a small part of this arms-trafficking operation and later alleged that Colombian authorities lied when they say they collaborated in the investigation.

In addition to the rockets, US intelligence sources consulted by said that the international network also has sold AK-47 rifles and munitions among other war materials to the FARC.

The arms were brought to Colombia in flights made by Soviet IL-76 cargo planes that left Russia and Ukraine, made stops in the Jordanian capital of Amman and continued on to South America.

This type of plane can carry up to 90,000 pounds, enough for 5,400 rifles and 360,000 rounds of munitions plus various RPG missiles.

The director of the Colombian Secret Police, Colonel Germán Jaramillo, said last June to El Nuevo Herald that in October 1999 they confirmed that the FARC had received 11,500 AK-47 rifles that were dropped from the air with parachutes, and 800 were damaged when they hit land.

US Intelligence sources sustain that this process, called "bombardment", was employed on diverse occassions.

They also said that the FARC's 16th Front, led by Tomás Medina Caracas, who operates under the alias of Negro Acasio, was charged with receiving the shipments. The US military investigations indicate that the IL-76 planes that made stops in Amman had the help of diplomats who speak Spanish, probably from Spain, key figures from that city and local corrupt military officials.

The IL-76 planes of this operation in Amman received land assistance by teams of the Royal Jordanian Airlines. These stops were made behind the back of the Jordanian government, say US military sources.

After unloading the arms over different points in Colombia, the planes returned with shipments of up to 40,000 kilos of cocaine that later were distributed in Russia, other European countries and the Persian Gulf, where each kilogram has a price of about $50,000.

Some of the arrivals of the planes in South America were coordinated by an ex Peruvian official unidentified by the sources and by Fernando Beira Mar (alias, Luis Fernando Da Costa), one of the most wanted drug traffickers in Brazil, whose base of operations is the city of Pedro Juan Caballero in Paraguay.

According to US sources, Da Costa received arms from Fuad Jamil, a Lebanese businessman who operates in the same Paraguayan city and who uses a legitimate foreign business company.

If it's certain that the major part of the arms go directly to the FARC, minor quantities are detoured to other guerrilla groups liek the Hezbolla, that operates in the south of Lebanon with the backing of Iran, according to US military sources.

Last June, the Colombian Secret Police (DAS) in cooperation with the Secret Service of the US Treasury Department and the Israeli police, discovered an operation to buy 50,000 AK-47 rifles by the FARC, that was coordinated by Israeli citizens located in Cali, Colombia, Quito, Guayaquil and Tulcán Ecuador and Tel Aviv.

Among the smugglers detected by the DAS in this operation figure the Israeli mercenary Yair Klein, who trained the armies of the disappeared Medellín Cartel, that later formed today's Paramilitary groups of the extreme right.

The investigation, that began by pursuing the path of counterfeit dollars in Colombia, ended up in the discovery that is today considered the largest network of arms traffic in the world.

Thursday's Press Briefing

Update: Four hours after we published the story from Brazil below, Associated Press picked up on the story out of its Rio de Janeiro bureau. The Narco News opening statement defines that part of our mission is to "force these stories onto the dockets of the English language press."

August 24, 2000

Today's Press Reports from: Bogotá, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Caracás, Venezuela; and even Miami and Washington DC, that remain unreported in the English-language press. Translations from Spanish and Portuguese by Al Giordano.

Thursday, August 24, 2000

"The War on Coca Begins with the Visit of Clinton"


(This Spanish language newspaper is published by the Miami Herald and yet many of its most important stories do not reach the English-language edition)

By GONZALO GUILLEN / El Nuevo Herald

TRES ESQUINAS, COLOMBIA: "The military operations of the so-called War of the South that will unchain the first phase of Plan Colombia will be tacitly timed with the coming visit of President Bill Clinton to this nation.

The plan will be financed mainly by $1.3 billion that the United States will aportion and Colombian military authorities hope that Clinton comes to the country on August 30th with the first check...

General Mario Montoya Uribe, comandante of the Southern Regional Task Force confirmed this fact to El Nuevo Herald. He said that beginning in September the zone will be the stage of the anti-drug war and counter-guerrilla operation....

...The first phase of Plan Colombia, under Montoya's charge, will be deployed from south to north, over a territory of 192,000 square kilometers that ends at the border with Ecuador and contains the entire Amazon states of Caquetá and Putomayo. This is equal to one-tenth of all Colombia....

Beyond the money destined by Washington expressly for Plan Colombia, that received the yesterday the final green light with the certification of the country, the Clinton administration has sent resources to form and train two or three anti-drug battallions, with 1,000 men in each, that will lead the initial offensive with the support of 10,000 police, Air Force, Marine and Army troops.

...The first battallion will have at is disposition 18 UHN helicopters that are already in Colombia and the second will have 15 that are stationed in a military base near Miami.... these will only begin to fly when Washington sends the first parts of the $1.3 billion that General Montoya is awaiting to begin the action.

Also, the United States will deliver... 18 Black Hawk and 42 Huey helicopters that will begin to arrive in the country at the end of 2001. Their manufacture has just been ordered and production will flow at the rate of two per month, said Montoya.

... The potential enemies of the first phase, titled "New Horizon," are some 1,500 FARC troops in ten divisions and two groups of paramilitaries of the extreme right with 240 combatants... Montoya explains that these forces will be confronted while they fight between themselves... "Every day there are battles between them," he said."

Narco News commentary: Notice how the Nuevo Herald here conflicts with the August 20th claim of Miami Herald correspondent Tim Johnson who wrote that the guerrilla and paramilitaries "cowardly" don't confront each other. See Narco News Fact-Check on Tim Johnson:

From EL COMERCIO of Quito Ecuador

August 24, 2000

"Ecuador Keeps its Distance from Plan Colombia"

"Yesterday, President Noboa placed expressed his distance with the application of Plan Colombia. Upon his arrival in Bogotá, during the reception act with president Andrés Pastrana, he said that Ecuador will not involve itself militarily in this plan pushed by the US and that will begin shortly. He will only support the policy that the Colombian president applies...."

From INFORME, Quito, Ecuador

"Noboa: Yes to political support, no to military"

by Dimitri Barreto

Special Correspondent to Bogotá

...The speeches continued until noon when Noboa -- after placing a floral wreath in Plaza Bolívar -- broke protocol and said that Ecuador will not intervene militarily in Plan Colombia....

Narco News commentary: Despite US Secretary of State Madeline Albright's desparate mission throughout South America last week in an 11th hour attempt to recruit Américan countries to support Plan Colombia, she was met by almost total rejection (the exception was Argentina, which gave the plan its backing).

Today's Christian Science Monitor column by Plan Colombia hawk Peter Hakim, of the cynically titled Washington organization "Inter-American Dialogue" -- one of the groups that lobbied for Plan Colombia with a committee of leading US figures many of whom are personally and corporately invested financially in the Colombia war -- explains, from the point of view of the powerful, why Washington needs the backing of other Américan nations:

"When President Clinton travels to Cartagena, Colombia, next week,
it will be the most important of his half-dozen or so visits to Latin
America during his two terms.... Countries in Latin America and Europe will be closely watching what Clinton says in Colombia. The support of these countries is needed to help Colombia settle its conflicts. Many of the countries are suspicious of US motives and troubled by the US focus on military aid and antidrug rhetoric. Like US opponents of the administration's policy, some fear a Vietnam-type debacle. Their political support and financial assistance, which is considered essential to supplement US and Colombian resources, has been lagging."

The regional rejection of Plan Colombia has near daily outbursts, most of which are not covered in the United States media.

from Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sunday, August 20, 2000

"The Nation will Send More Soldiers and Arms to the Border with Colombia to Try and Avoid Invasion by Guerrillas and Drug Traffickers"

By Thomas Traumann, special correspondent

"Brazil enters a state of alert to evade that the civil war in Colombia crosses the border. It will reinforce security of the 1,640 kilometers that border the two countries, re-equip the Armed Forces and monitor by sattelite the lands that could be used to prepare coca plantations.

Confidential documents obtains by La Folha demonstrate that the Brazilian government fears the immigration of drug trafficking leaders and the Colombian guerrilla. In Tabatinga, the dry border with Colombia, a "crisis command post" will be installed with representatives of the ministers of Defense, Foreign Relations, the Army, the Brazil Intelligence Agency and the Federal Police. "We are worried, more than panicked. We are going to reinforce the vigilance of the border so that we don't receive any type of problem," said Defense Minister Geraldo Quintao. The government rejected the possibility of sending soldiers for a hypothetical international force to support the Colombian government, an idea defended by some who are behind the United States. Logistical support was also rejected, such as using airbases and Brazilian radar... Under the constitution, this would have to be authorized by Congress. the most recent Brazilian refusal to intervene directly in the Colombian crisis occured last week, during the visit of US Sec. of State Madeleine Albright. She hastened to tell Folha that the US would insist. A report by the US Secret Service demonstrates that it would be almost impossible to control the Colombian Amazon without the support of Brazilian airbases and radar."

Transgenetic Fungus

In a conference realized on August 10th between the Commission of Foreign Relations and National Defense, minister Geraldo Quintao affirmed that the most worrisome consequence of the Colombian conflict is the use of biological arms.... The US pressures the Colombian government to test the fungus Fusarium Oxysporum to destroy coca crops. The problem is that it has never been tested for its possible mutations nor in the Amazonic environment.... "This worries me alot, because there's no way to monitor the entrance of the fungus," said the defense minister.

Editorial in LA FOLHA

"Fear Over Amazon Revived"

by the Editorial Board

There is a second question that borthers many Brazilians with the beginning of a major North American intervention in Colombia: the possibility that it is a curtain of smoke to appropriate the Amazon.... Chancellor Luiz Felipe Lampreia was the first to divulge that there is a "deliberate plan" by the North American government to intervene in the Amazon region... referring to the worry over the environment and the international interest over the minerals and hardwoods of the Amazon.

Michael May, of the Center of Strategic International Studies, also denied that there is any North American attempt to make the Amazon its own, saying: "There are environmental groups that say that the borders could be violated in the name of environmental preservation. This does not reflect any serious point of view within the United States. And for Peter Hakim (of the Inter-American Dialogue, this is about "pure nonsense." He added, "If the US wants any influence over the use of the Amazon it is because Washington is pressured by environmental groups and many members of Congress influenced by those groups. The US government has no strategic interest to pursue the Amazon."

Kenneth Maxwell (of the US Council on Foreign Relations) said: "This suspicion is pure hallucination...."

From the Colombian daily El Tiempo in Bogotá:


"Plan Colombia Will Have Effects on the Borders"

Corresponsal de EL TIEMPO

Asked about the root of the worries that diverse Latin American governments have recently expressed, high US administration officials conceded yesterday that the application of Plan Colombia will inevitably generate consequences for other neighbor countries.

"It's a matter of common sense to recognize that in the means that the Plan is applied and makes progress in combatting drug trafficking and in the search for peace it is inevitable to suppose that there will be an impact on Colombia's border countries," said William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere to El Tiempo.

..."It's a positive sign that there is a regional reaction to avoid the spill over of the Colombian conflict. Each day more countries in the region recognize that the Colombian crisis represents a hemispheric problem in that has a direct and immediate interest," said Richard Boucher, spokesman for the State Dept.

also from El Tiempo

August 24, 2000

"Obligatory Theme in the Brasilia Summit"

by María Victoria Cristancho

El Tiempo correspondent

CARACAS, VENEZUELA: The fear of neighboring countries that Plan Colombia will be an "obligatory theme" of the Summit of South American Presidents that will be held on August 31 in Brasilia by invitation of Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, said José Vicente Rangel, the Venezuelan foreign minister yesterday.

He also said that "it's almost certain" that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías will hold a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Andrés Pastrana and with other regional leaders about Plan Colombia.

"The fears of Venezuela and other neighbor nations before the possibility that large displacements of Colombian citizens toward border zones will occur are certain and documented," said Rangel. "We've already had unpleasant experiences in this sense: months ago there was a displacement of about 20,000 people from the population of Guabarra near the border of Venezuela due to the violence of paramilitary action... and a few days ago there was an intent to displace about 100 people... Without a doubt the violence in Colombia is a latent threat."

In response to the petition of high Colombian military spokesmen that the neighbor countries reinforce their borders, the Venezuelan minister said: that "is a job of the Colombian state to predict the consequences because it's not enough that the neighbors take action when the country that is producing the phenomenon does not take them."

Now, we open the Press Briefing to Questions:

More Plan Colombia News Beginning on our Front Page

Reporting What the US Media Won't Report About the War it Created