Colombia's New Right-Wing President Imposes Harsh Measures in an Attempt to Win 38-Year Civil War
Interview with Jason Hagen, with the Washington Office on Latin America,
conducted by Scott Harris
As Colombia's new hard-line president Alvaro Uribe was sworn into office on Aug. 7, the nation's largest guerilla group -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC -- launched a mortar attack against the presidential palace near the parliament building where the inauguration was under way. Nineteen people were killed, mostly residents of Bogata's poorest neighborhood. Less than a week later, Uribe declared a state of emergency, restricting civil liberties and imposing a new tax to finance the recruitment and training of 100,000 new soldiers and police.
Over the past two years, the U.S. has provided the Colombian government with more than $1.7 billion to fight the nation's four decade-long civil war. Earlier this year, Congress acceded to a Bush administration request to lift restrictions limiting U.S. aid to counter-narcotics operations. Now, American weapons and Pentagon-trained troops can by deployed directly against guerilla groups. In the coming year, Washington plans to allocate $98 million to create a special battalion, under U.S. command, to protect a Colombian pipeline owned by the U.S. based Occidental Oil Company.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris reached Jason Hagen of the Washington Office on Latin America in Bogata, where he was winding up a fact-finding mission. Hagen discusses the dangers he sees in the pursuit of a military solution to the conflict sought by both President Uribe and his supporters in Washington.
Contact Washington Office on Latin America by calling (202) 797-2171 or visit their Web site at www.wola.org
Narco News Web site: www.narconews.com
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