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Colombia & Venezuela

#HackedTeam & Colombia: How Surveillance Helps a Violent State

In the past few years, debates about universal surveillance, software and internet freedom, privacy and civil liberties have opened through the efforts and sacrifices of people like Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Anonymous. The governments and private security industry that have been exposed through leaks, hacks, and whistleblowing, have been forced to respond. Some of these responses involved attacking and prosecuting the messengers.

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.

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