/** headlines: 119.0 **/
** Topic: Present Crisis in Colombia **
** Written 8:59 AM Sep 5, 1995 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk>
/* Written 5:53 PM Aug 31, 1995 by csn in igc:reg.andes */
/* ---------- "Present Crisis in Colombia" ---------- */
The Cali cartel took advantage of the rampant corruption of the Colombian political class, to make a favorable arrangement for themselves. Samper wanted to be president at any cost. Reading a summary of his recently published secret tapes, one can hear the echoes of President Reagan with Ollie North a few years ago. "Do anything, but I am not supposed to know." The Cali cartel wanted to enjoy a benign treatment from Colombian 'justice' such as the one given to Pablo Escobar at the beginning with this luxurious self-designed jail.
These two common interests -- Samper's desire to be President, and the Rodriguezes' wish for short-sentence 'justice' -- was a powerful combination which overlooked only two small details:
1. That the Fiscal (Attorney General) Alfonso Valdivieso is an independent and apparently honest man, and
2. That the U.S. Government through the DEA knows a lot about the drug trade in Colombia and it has a tremendous capacity to bring pressure to bear upon the Colombian Government.
The mistake made by the Presidential team was to believe that they had an autonomous negotiating space to make deals concerning anti-drug policy. The public confrontation about the money that financed Samper's presidential campaign, from the beginning of its presidency, put the President in a very weak position. He has lost credibility and authority, which likely can not be recovered. If President Samper goes on trial by the Chamber of Representatives, that would be a show worth watching -- since many of the members of the Chamber's Ethical Commission are being accused themselves of receiving money from the drug lords.
The ones who fish in these turbulent waters are the military, who take advantage by changing the Government's agenda. No peace negotiations. More war. More money for the Defense Ministry. Forget about human rights talk. While human rights have never been a major concern of the Colombian Government, at least Samper talked about them -- before this current crisis, that is.
Clearly, the Colombian Government recently went after the Cali cartel strongly only because of the pressure exerted by the U.S. Government and the threat of trade sanctions. Now the time is right for us to intensify our efforts to urge the U.S. Government to stand up for all its talk about human rights, and to put pressure on the Colombian Government to end human rights abuses by the Colombian Military.
August 31, 1995
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701