Articles by: Forrest Hylton
On January 27, bucking for a third term in spite of Washington’s objections, Colombian president Álvaro Uribe announced his goal of putting a thousand spies in college classrooms: “We need citizens to be the ones who commit to informing the police and armed forces, and if young people over 18 can help us in this by participating in networks of informants, it would help us a lot.” Uribe offered to pay students $50 per month to report any suspicious ideas or behavior to the Colombian police and armed forces. His drive to recruit informants among university students is eerily similar to what is taking place in the United States, where Washington has served as a pilot project.
Events in Bolivia took a dramatic turn on September 11 with the murder of more than two dozen government supporters by armed vigilantes in the northern department of Pando. With the massacre, President Morales' denunciations of a "civic coup" grew more urgent, sparking an emergency top-level meeting of the South American Union in Chile. In response to these recent events, Bolivia's opposition has slightly pulled back its overt attacks, but it will nonetheless continue to actively make the situation ungovernable for the weakened Morales administration.
Sadly, the operation on March 1 in which the Colombian Armed Forces shot and killed Luis Edgar Devia Silva, a.k.a. “Raúl Reyes,” spokesman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), along with sixteen other guerrillas in a camp across the Putumayo River in Ecuador, was yet another case of the oft-mentioned “death foretold” that characterizes the country’s seemingly endless civil war.
The ride into Medellín, Colombia, is spectacular, especially at night, when lights sprawl up the western hills about a mile below the mountainsides. There are two ways in from the airport: descending from the southeast via Las Palmas through the city’s greenest, most exclusive and fortified areas (Envigado and El Poblado), or the northeast via Guarne, Zamora, and Playón, the last a peripheral neighborhood in one of the toughest of the city’s 16 wards (comunas).