Repression mounts in Colombia

The militaristic Colombian government, servant of moneyed interests at home and abroad and tight with paramilitaries and narco-traffickers, is lashing out at shadows, represented as dangers to the state. President Alvaro Uribe is seeking a third presidential term unsanctioned by Colombia’s constitution.

In Cauca a judge this month ordered the capture of indigenous leaders Aida Quilcue, Feliciano Valencia and Daniel Piñacué. They allegedly seized army corporal Jairo Danilo Chaparrán, found last October carrying military equipment within the María Piendamó indigenous reserve. He was supposedly spying on preparations for the “Minga” indigenous mobilization. Indigenous authorities, granted autonomy under Colombian law, carried out a “ceremony of correction” and released him.

Aida Quilcue, chief counsel of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, was central to organizing the October 2008 “Minga” march of tens of thousands of indigenous activists. On Dec. 16, soldiers shot and killed her husband, Edwin Legarda. The police have reportedly harassed their teenage daughter. The indigenous ACIN federation called the government moves “a clear case of political persecution against … a people that rose up peacefully against the economic model of plunder, against terror.” Their statement likened the situation to that in Peru where “they are killing whoever mobilized for 56 days against the free trade agreement.”

“Cambio” magazine this month alleged the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is using JUCO, the Colombian Communist youth group, as a tool for conducting international diplomacy. An exchange program has been carried out for 10 years under the auspices of the National Council of Norwegian Youth. Designating the Norwegian socialist youth group as communists, “Cambio” accused the young Norwegians of “indoctrinating” their Colombian counterparts.

Communist Party secretary general and Bogota City Councilmember Jaime Caicedo learned from media reports this month that the attorney general is investigating opposition figures, himself included, for association with the FARC. He issued a statement suggesting authorities would be using information against him allegedly found in the discredited computer files of FARC leader Raul Reyes, murdered by the army last year in Ecuador.

Caicedo accused the police of surrounding his house, issuing threats and monitoring telephone calls. He said, “All my actions have been taken openly, with civility, and with the revolutionary ethic characteristic of myself and my party.”

Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, similarly fingered “for presumed ties to groups at the margin of the law,” saw signs of a “sinister conspiracy.” The former academician and veteran legislator attributed the accusations to “my frontal opposition to the economic, political, and social orientation of the Uribe regime, and especially for my discussion on his submission to the dictates of the White House.”

Other investigations of those targeted by the attorney general had been opened last year. The repeat victims included Senator Gloria Inés Ramirez of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole; Carlos Lozano, editor of the Communist weekly Voz and candidate for parliament; liberal Senator Piedad Cordoba; and human rights advocates and journalists involved with the release of FARC prisoners. The regime charged the group Colombians for Peace with “exaltation of terrorism” and leadership by “the intellectual bloc of the FARC.”

Senator Gustavo Petro, an Uribe target for having demonstrated paramilitary ties with congresspersons, recently denounced “systematic political persecution of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, a human rights group, as well as journalists Claudia Julieta Duque and Hollman Morris and their children.

Writing on Upsidedownworld.org, Canadian sociology professor James Brittain highlights repression directed at university professors and students. In November, 67 students and professors at Colombia’s National University received warrants charging them with FARC membership. He reported that paramilitary operatives entered the campus to deliver threats.

In May, Mexican authorities arrested and deported National University professor Miguel Angel Beltran, who had been conducting research in Mexico City. On arrival in Colombia, the internationally recognized sociologist was charged with “rebellion” as a “most dangerous” member of the FARC,” and jailed.

Brittain conveys the atmosphere of fear and intimidation prevailing in Colombia: “Since arriving to power in 2002, the administration of Alvaro Uribe Velez has repeatedly targeted any faction of society be they human rights advocates, oppositional political parties, investigatory journalists, unionists, and so on as terroristic if they demonstrate tendencies critical to government and military policy.”

atwhit @ roadrunner.com