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Colombia & Venezuela

Hugo Chavez, Presente

I only started paying attention to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela at the time of the 2002 coup. At the time, I was deeply engaged with the Canada Colombia Solidarity Campaign. Friends I was making were on the run, living underground, trying to work in a context of disappearances and massacres, assassinations and torture, in a country that was being reshaped by a massive military program called Plan Colombia.

The Latest Colombian Peace Process

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has reinitiated a dialogue with the FARC. Talks began in Oslo and will continue in Havana. The Colombian government suspended orders to capture the 29 members of FARC's negotiating team as long as the negotiations take place, but have warned that they will be arrested if they try to leave Cuba.

The talks will deal with five issues: the end of armed conflict; land reform; guarantees for the exercise of political opposition and citizen participation; drug trafficking; and the rights of the victims of the conflict.

Implementing the Bolivarian Revolution: Julio Chavez in Toronto

On October 10/09 Venezuelan former mayor, now state legislator Julio Chavez spoke at the University of Toronto sponsored by Hands off Venezuela and the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle. He came in sporting the unassuming Bolivarian fashion: red T-shirt, red baseball cap (with a Canada logo on it), jeans, and sneakers, and fired up a powerpoint presentation.

An award weirder than Obama's Peace Prize

Seriously. The Colombian magazine, Semana, and its owner, Alejandro Santos, just won a COHA award for Excellence in Print Journalism.

Santos comes from one of Colombia's most powerful families and Semana, while I'll admit that it is an indispensable source (like El Tiempo), is thoroughly an establishment outlet. COHA, meanwhile, is also indispensable, but perhaps I thought it was a little more oppositional in outlook than it actually is. So I was a little surprised to see the award.

The M-19 Palace of Justice Takeover in 1985: New Documents

The amazing National Security Archive strikes again, this time showing how the Colombian army is responsible for the deaths of 70 people when they raided Colombia's Palace of Justice following the guerrilla group M-19's takeover of it in 1985.

The most striking note in it, that accords with anecdotes I've heard from people who were around at the time and knew people who died, was the two contradictory cables that came from the US Embassy, spaced two days apart:

Chomsky and Chavez in Caracas

Closer to a tweet than a blog... but this youtube clip from Venezuelan TV made my day. Not just Noam and Hugo, but Mike Albert, Greg Wilpert, and Eva Golinger all got saludos.

The Canadian FARC cell that never left Colombia

Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe Velez, actually presented a dossier from his intelligence agencies when he visited Canada. The intelligence agencies were claiming, based on a magic laptop, that there were FARC guerrilla cells operating in Canada, masterminded by the cousin of the assassinated guerrilla leader Raul Reyes.

Uribe in Ottawa

In my question/answer about the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), I cited a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), an organization that has a board with people like George Soros, Kofi Annan, Richard Armitage, Louise Arbour, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Lakhdar Brahimi, and Ernesto Zedillo on it - not exactly raging radicals, in other words.

Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement: A Question/Answer

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) was withdrawn from the table while being debated for its second reading in Canadian Parliament on May 27, 2009. Stalled for now, the CCFTA will certainly be back: it has not been defeated, and its proponents (the Conservatives and some of the Liberals) await an opportunity to bring it back.

The following set of questions and answers are intended to help those in Canada trying to stop the CCFTA (or see to it that it stays down).

The march of the Colombian war

Indigenous people in Colombia are fighting their perpetual struggle against the militarization of their communities. In a horrific incident earlier in February, Colombia's guerrillas (the FARC) massacred dozens of Awa indigenous people in Narino. FARC claimed the massacre was a reprisal for Awa's cooperation with the military, who came earlier and coerced some people to cooperate with them.

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