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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 09:48 AM
Original message
U.S. & Colombia Cover Up Atrocities Through Mass Graves
Edited on Thu Apr-01-10 09:57 AM by Judi Lynn
Source: Huffington Post

Posted: April 1, 2010 09:22 AM
U.S. & Colombia Cover Up Atrocities Through Mass Graves

The biggest human rights scandal in years is developing in Colombia, though you wouldn't notice it from the total lack of media coverage here. The largest mass grave unearthed in Colombia was discovered by accident last year just outside a Colombian Army base in La Macarena, a rural municipality located in the Department of Meta just south of Bogota. The grave was discovered when children drank from a nearby stream and started to become seriously ill. These illnesses were traced to runoff from what was discovered to be a mass grave - a grave marked only with small flags showing the dates (between 2002 and 2009) on which the bodies were buried.

According to a February 10, 2010 letter issued by Alexandra Valencia Molina, Director of the regional office of Colombia's own Procuraduria General de la Nacion - a government agency tasked to investigate government corruption - approximately 2,000 bodies are buried in this grave. The Colombian Army has admitted responsibility for the grave, claiming to have killed and buried alleged guerillas there. However, the bodies in the grave have yet to be identified. Instead, against all protocol for handling the remains of anyone killed by the military, especially those of guerillas, the bodies contained in the mass grave were buried there secretly without the requisite process of having the Colombian government certify that the deceased were indeed the armed combatants the Army claims.

And, given the current "false positive" scandal which has enveloped the government of President Alvaro Uribe and his Defense Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, who is now running to succeed Uribe as President, the Colombian Army's claim about the mass grave is especially suspect. This scandal revolves around the Colombian military, most recently under the direction of Juan Manuel Santos, knowingly murdering civilians in cold blood and then dressing them up to look like armed guerillas in order to justify more aid from the United States. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pilay, this practice has been so "systematic and widespread" as to amount to a "crime against humanity." And sadly, when Ms. Pilay made this statement, she literally did not know the half of it.

To date, not factoring in the mass grave, it has been confirmed by Colombian government sources that 2,000 civilians have fallen victim to the "false positive" scheme since President Uribe took office in 2002. If, as suspected by Colombian human rights groups, such as the "Comision de Derechos Humanos del Bajo Ariari" and the "Colectivo Orlando Fals Borda," the mass grave in La Macarena contains 2,000 more civilian victims of this scheme, then this would bring the total of those victimized by the "false positive" scandal to at least 4,000 --much worse than originally believed.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/us-colombia-c...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
1. (Earlier report) Army mass grave in La Macarena
Edited on Thu Apr-01-10 10:19 AM by Judi Lynn
Army mass grave in La Macarena
Miamis El Nuevo Herald and Spains Pblico have run stories in the past two days about a shocking find in La Macarena, about 200 miles south of Bogot.

Residents say that after it entered the strongly guerrilla-controlled zone in the mid-2000s, Colombias Army began dumping unidentified bodies in a mass grave near a local cemetery. The grave may contain as many as 2,000 bodies.

Pblico reports:
Since 2005 the Army, whose elite units are deployed in the surrounding area, has been depositing behind the local cemetery hundreds of cadavers with the order that they be buried without names.

Jurist Jairo Ramrez, the secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia, accompanied a delegation of British legislators to the site several weeks ago, when the magnitude of the La Macarena grave began to be discovered. What we saw was chilling, he told Pblico. An infinity of bodies, and on the surface hundreds of white wooden plaques with the inscription NN and dates from 2005 until today.

Ramrez adds: The Army commander told us that they were guerrillas killed in combat, but the people in the region told us of a multitude of social leaders, campesinos and community human rights defenders who disappeared without a trace.
More:
http://www.cipcol.org/?p=1303
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ck4829 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:40 AM
Response to Original message
2. Maybe it's time to consider bringing Colombia's government and military before the ICC
Colombia is a member of the ICC, after all.
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
3. Why the mention of the U.S. in the headline?
There is nothing in the story to suggest that the U.S. is "covering up atrocities through mass graves".

Also, how is this possibly breaking news?
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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
4. Good story. Bad headline.
Doesn't get to US part for several paragraphs, then only notes proximity to Colombian base where US "trainers" do their thing?

Could've done a better job explaining what the suspicion is on US involvement. Instead, for those of us with little LA background info, it sounds stupid to even mention the US, much less to say It's covering up atrocities with mass graves.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. It's so sad, Robb. We're probably in it up to our eyeballs. Look at this.
I don't know more than you do from reading this article although I read the same information a while ago. This morning, I find this USAID project centering precisely on the community where the graves were found. This is from 2009:



When the Colombian government decided to carry out a pilot plan in La Macarena, USAID provided assistance to:

* develop a three-year plan to establish state presence
* hire and support civilian staff for the consolidation plan
* increase the capacity of mayors offices to provide services
* carry out hundreds of small, quick-impact infrastructure and income-generating projects such as repairs to market roadsto create confidence in the Colombian government; and
* conduct surveys, improve communications, and help prevent youth recruitment by illegally armed groups.

Little over a year has passed since the consolidation plan began, and the military continues to expand the secured areas, followed by an increasingly positive perception by communities. More than 9,000 hectares (22,239 acres) of coca have been eradicated without the typical widespread violence and community protests. Replanting rates are less than 3 percent.

Today, as improved security is perceived as permanent in large parts of the region, the private sector is becoming more involved. As an example, more than 4,000 hectares of rice were planted this year in previously insecure areas and where rice has never been grown before.

Increasingly, La Macarena is viewed as a model to launch consolidated state presence, spur economic and social development, and restore long-term peace in other parts of Colombia that are suffering from violence and narco-trafficking

http://www.usaid.gov/press/frontlines/fl_jun09/p3_colom...
(Emphasis mine)

So, how is it possible that our "advisors" were "overseeing" this Colombian base AND USAID was very busy in this community but NO ONE noticed people were disappearing?

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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. here is the whole description
The lack of state presence in large parts of Colombia has allowed illegally armed groups to operate with impunity, creating the conditions for growing and trafficking coca, and for moving arms and guerillas.


Children from La Balestera Mrgen Izquierdo in the Department of Meta in Colombia work with a new educational kit at their recently renovated school.

Government efforts to consolidate state presence in these areas has had limited success, despite three decades of fighting Colombias coca-fueled guerilla war. But change has begun.

Since 2007, USAID has worked closely with Colombian government officials in La Macarena to develop and carry out a model consolidation plan for bringing peace and stability to conflict regions. La Macarena is in a strategically important area in the Department of Meta, which is close to the geographic center of the country, and just east of the Andes Mountains in the Llanos plains. It is also one of the major coca-producing parts of Colombia.

Innovative Response
First, the Colombian army establishes permanent security for communitiesa departure from the days when the military ejected guerilla groups and moved on, leaving communities at the mercy of the guerillas when they inevitably returned. Security creates conditions for manual eradication of coca by police-led teams and voluntary eradication efforts by the community.

Next, small, quick-impact infrastructure and incomegenerating projects are carried out that immediately demonstrate state presence. These include rehabilitation and equipping of schools and health facilities, and technical assistance and resources for farmers. The goal is to transition from coca to legal economies.

Longer-term projects follow such as helping farmers get legal title to their land; improving education; health services; and strengthening agricultural producer associations.

At the local level, military, police, and civilians work together through a Fusion Center.

At the national level, the Center for the Coordination of Integrated Action (CCAI) brings together 14 government ministries to coordinate establishing government services in post-conflict parts of the country. USAID has provided technical assistance to CCAI to improve its efforts throughout the country.

Results
When the Colombian government decided to carry out a pilot plan in La Macarena, USAID provided assistance to:

develop a three-year plan to establish state presence
hire and support civilian staff for the consolidation plan
increase the capacity of mayors offices to provide services
carry out hundreds of small, quick-impact infrastructure and income-generating projects such as repairs to market roadsto create confidence in the Colombian government; and
conduct surveys, improve communications, and help prevent youth recruitment by illegally armed groups.
Little over a year has passed since the consolidation plan began, and the military continues to expand the secured areas, followed by an increasingly positive perception by communities. More than 9,000 hectares (22,239 acres) of coca have been eradicated without the typical widespread violence and community protests. Replanting rates are less than 3 percent.

Today, as improved security is perceived as permanent in large parts of the region, the private sector is becoming more involved. As an example, more than 4,000 hectares of rice were planted this year in previously insecure areas and where rice has never been grown before.

Increasingly, La Macarena is viewed as a model to launch consolidated state presence, spur economic and social development, and restore long-term peace in other parts of Colombia that are suffering from violence and narco-trafficking. ★


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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Turns out there is more to that La Macarena story:
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. The USAID spin is so similar to the reports we used to read from the top brass
running the Viet Nam bloodbath.

Bubbly, cheerful, positive! Proud as punch. Let a smile be your umbrella! Golly, this is grand.

Nothing on earth matches that good old "consolidated state presence."

Maybe the advisors and others were just too damned busy to notice all the leftists, and activists disappeared. That might explain how every thing was coming up roses. They had finally killed off everyone who didn't support them enthusiastically, even hysterically enthusiastically.



Thankful campesinos celebrating "consolidated state presence."
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subsuelo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-02-10 01:45 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. Not reporting this story isn't helping cover it up?
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
9. My suspicion that La Macarena was US/UK military "turkey shoot" practice for Afghanistan
My suspicion that La Macarena was US/UK military "turkey shoot" practice for Afghanistan

grows stronger. The USAID/CIA "pacification" strategy in La Macarena appears to be very similar to the one they are using in Afghanistan--kill off the true local community leadership, handpick local government officials and impose the corrupt national government on the region through beefed up police and military presence and "bought and paid for" local leaders, and once this area is "secured," move on to the next area, leaving a residual force, to begin all over again--first, the killing, to get rid of real representatives of the local people and terrorize the rest of the population.

If you read between the lines of the USAID plan for La Macarena, that's what it amounts to. It is already a scandal in the U.K. Here are the first two accounts I read about La Macarena...

The La Macarena massacre (includes a description of, and links to docs about, U.S. ops in La Macarena)
http://www.cipcol.org/?p=1303

The UK military connection
http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2010/02/04/silence-on-... /

I also have a suspicion that the "total diplomatic immunity" for U.S. solders and U.S. 'contractors' that was signed and delivered to U.S. (Bushwhack) ambassador William Brownfield by Alvaro Uribe, in the recent U.S./Colombia military deal, has to do with this and possibly other massacres in which U.S. personnel might have been involved, as well as other purposes of the agreement (for instance, destroying Colombia's sovereignty and turning it into a South Vietnam'-type launching pad for war). The secrecy with which the agreement was negotiated, and the argument of its defenders that the agreement merely formalizes existing arrangements, lead me to suspect that this immunity for U.S. soldiers and 'contractors' is intended to put them out of the reach of Colombian prosecutors, both after the fact--if U.S. soldiers and 'contractors' have been killing civilians (or anybody) in Colombia-- and to provide for future "turkey shoots" (practice killing unarmed civilians, prior to deployment to other regions of the world) in political "cleansing" of further areas of Colombia.

I am appalled to read that someone has already been murdered in the attempt to cover up this horrendous massacre--adding one more death to the up to 2,000 bodies in the mass grave in La Macarena, whom local people--of necessity, anonymously (at the cipcol site)--claim are the bodies of local 'disappeared' community activists, and the 2,000 "false positives" (Colombian military murders, with the bodies dressed up like FARC guerillas). Some four thousand people dead--and there are probably many more--and still the BILLIONS of U.S. tax dollars continue to be larded on the Colombian military. If the presence of 600 or 1,200 or whatever the hell the number of U.S. soldiers and "contractors' is, in Colombia, has been for "training" the Colombian military, as they say, what in God's name has the U.S. military been training Colombian military personnel TO DO? This massacre occurred right outside one of the SEVEN U.S. military bases in Colombia! Is "Afghanistan" being brought to Colombia, or is "Colombia" being taken to Afghanistan--or both?
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 05:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. I'm glad to see that at least the liberal press is finally reporting the La Macarena massacre!
I was beginning to feel spooked by the total lack of coverage of this horrendous discovery--since I found it at the cipcol site some time ago. A USAID plan for the La Macarena region? The U.S. military very nearby? Up to TWO THOUSAND bodies found!? The U.K. all in dither about their military's connection to it? And not one word in our corpo-fascist press--for months?! And nothing now?

Something's going with this--and I think that my suspicion that U.S. troops and 'contractors' were involved in this massacre is probably on target. The secrecy of the U.S./Colombia military agreement, its immunity clause, its defenders' claim that it is retrospective, the recent visit to Colombia of Leon Panetta (CIA Director--old CIA behind-the-scenes operative, in my opinion) in the midst of their cutting Uribe loose, the fact that the worst Bushwhack ambassador in Latin America--Wm Brownfield in Colombia--is still in place, and many other little clues along the way create a "pricking of my thumbs" feeling on this. Uribe knows "where the bodies are buried," literally as well as figuratively. He was the "go to" guy for the Medellin Cartel in his early career and graduated to become the "go to" guy for the Bush Cartel (--i.e., death, destruction and corruption on a more massive scale than mere drug trafficking.) He would not be an easy puppet to get rid of--and, quite frankly, I keep expecting him to turn up dead.

Anyway, the profound scandal that is percolating may be why the corpo-fascist press is not covering it. They have their orders.
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. There is more to the story:
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subsuelo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-02-10 01:52 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. Not one word.
That should be a very big clue for those unsure of what or who to believe
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-02-10 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
15. More stories about the La Macarena site
The Huffington Post story wasn't sourced by the author listed, it was sourced by others who provided him the material, including a group in London. The following articles are from other sources, they do not mention US soldiers, and evidently there isn't a coverup since the site is being investigated by the government. Note the number of bodies is a large unknown, but the sites in the daisy chain (what I suspect is a FARC financed agitprop) are now mentioning up to 4000.

My conclusion? It's likely there are bodies buried at La Macarena. The number of unidentified bodies seems to be in the hundreds. Of these, the majority are FARC guerrillas. It's also likely innocent people are buried there, given the nature of these conflicts and the way an army behaves when fighting guerrillas.

To make sure the reader understands I'm even handed, I would like to mention that USA and British propaganda machines used the supposed existence of mass graves in Kosovo to justify an illegal bombing campaign and intervention in Kosovo in 1999, in which they, with their bombs, killed more than 600 innocent civilians and wounded thousands more. As it turned out, the civilians killed by the US and British bombs were far more than the civilians killed by the Serb Army prior to the initiation of the bombing in March 1999. Thus Tony Blair and Bill Clinton can be considered war criminals and if justice were to be served, they should be indicted and on trial in The Hague.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the LAtin American Herald Tribune at http://laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=12393&ArticleId=...

"BOGOTA Investigators from the Colombian Attorney Generals Office have found mass graves in the south-central province of Meta that could hold as many as 1,150 bodies of civilians and leftist FARC rebels, an official in the AGs office told Efe.

The director of the Exhumations Unit in the city of Villavicencio, Nolberto Suarez, said that officials will go to the municipality of La Macarena in early March to investigate the reports of the graves local residents made to a non-governmental organization that defends human rights.

We dont know if there are only 20, 100 or the 1,150 bodies that one of the gravediggers said he saw buried between 2002 and 2005, Suarez said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The following is from the UK government at http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Commons/bydate/20... . As you will see, the comment is a lot more nuanced, and the anti American hysteria seen in the daisy chain articles isn't evident:

"Chris Bryant: The mass graves in La Macarena were first brought to the attention of our embassy in Bogota in November 2009.

Our ambassador asked the Colombian Government, namely Carlos Franco, Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme in Colombia, for information on the alleged mass graves. We received a reply on 16 February 2010, which I shared with Carolina Hoyos, a human rights activist whom I met on 16 March. According to Mr. Franco there are 650 corpses properly identified in their graves buried during the last 20 years. There are approximately 350 corpses not identified during the same 20 years. The burial of non-identified people at La Macarena's cemetery has been properly registered in the control books kept by the municipal authorities and the officers in charge of the cemetery's administration. We will continue to monitor developments in the investigation into these mass graves.

426I was dismayed to learn of the killing of Mr. Hurtado in the La Macarena region, who was President of the Human Rights committee of La Catalina. Our ambassador in Bogota raised Mr. Hurtado's assassination with the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme and the Head of the International Relations Unit at the Colombian Prosecutor's Office."

--------------------------------------------------

The following comes from a Colombian paper http://www.semana.com/noticias-nacion/alcalde-macarena-...

El alcalde de La Macarena, Meta, Eliecer Vargas Moreno, desminti el martes la existencia de fosas comunes con 2.000 cadveres de guerrilleros de las FARC y acus a la prensa de exagerar la cifra.

"En este lado (es) donde se dice que haba ms de 2.000 fosas. Eso no es cierto, aqu lo que hay es un promedio de unas 386 desde el ao de 2004", dijo el alcalde Vargas Moreno a reporteros en el cementerio de la localidad de La Macarena, mientras sealaba hacia las tumbas.

El burgomaestre acus de "amarillismo" a un sector de la prensa y a "algunos medios internacionales", sin mencionarlos. Seal que el objetivo del reporte era hacer dao al pas y al municipio de La Macarena, ubicado a 275 kilmetros al sur de Bogot, en el departamento del Meta.

Vargas explic que en el lugar, aproximadamente de una hectrea, slo reposaban los restos de unas 1.000 personas y de ellas, 346 han "llegado como muertos de las confrontaciones en la zona", sin que se les haya identificado.

"Y si vienen de la confrontacin creo que son de las FARC", dijo.

Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) dominaron la zona hasta hace unos seis aos, cuando el ejrcito lanz una ofensiva sin precedentes por orden del presidente Alvaro Uribe.

Jess Hernndez, de 50 aos de edad y sepulturero de la poblacin, indic a los reporteros que lleva nueve aos ejerciendo el oficio y que se ha encargado de "recibir y sepultar a ms de 300 guerrilleros, especialmente de las FARC.

Los cadveres "llegan con sus botas y sus morrales y me encargo de sepultarlos" como personas sin identificar, relat.

-----------------------------------------





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