Tag Archives: Colombia

FARC: Rebels or just thugs

The latest news of the narco-trafficking operation known as FARC in Colombia is that the Colombian government revealed FARC was planning to kill former president Alvaro Uribe. (Colombia uncovers Farc plot to kill ex-president Uribe)

The BBC — and most media outlets — call FARC a “rebel” organization. 

The definition of “rebel” is pretty straight forward: 

“a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler.”

Synonyms for the word include: revolutionary, insurgent, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, insurrectionary, guerrilla, terrorist, freedom fighter.

Now it is true that the FARC have no love for the form of government in Colombia. In fact, they seem to despise any government as much as the Zetas in Mexico or the 18th Street gang in Honduras. 

It is true that FARC started as a political military organization. But the facts are that they are now nothing more than just another narco-trafficking gang looking to consolidate its power through violence and corruption. 

Giving them the title of “rebel” seems to legitimize their actions, or at least excuse them for political reasons.

So, I kind of wish journalists would call the FARC what they are instead of allowing them to come off as some sort of freedom fighters. The form of government they are fighting is democracy. Their actions show them to be just another gang looking to make money and corrupt legal systems.

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Filed under Corruption, International News Coverage, South America

Getting it right: FARC is a narco-gang

For some reason a number of groups in the USA — and reporters — keep referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in its Spanish acronym) as a revolutionary insurgency.

This really has to stop. It confuses the situation and clouds much larger issues.

In the beginning it was a leftist armed group that fought against what they saw as corrupt and repressive governments in Colombia. However, as Colombian democracy became more inclusive and addressed the issues of poverty and security, the FARC became just another criminal organization, financing its operations with kidnappings, extortion and drug running.

The latest example comes from Costa Rica, where  four alleged FARC rebels were arrested with 400 kilos of cocaine and 35 weapons.

By and large the Colombian government is a worthy partner with the United States and Europe. (There have been problems of human rights violations that are being addressed by the world and by the Colombians.)

The Colombians want to end the instability caused by FARC  (and the para-military groups). They want to stem the corrupting influence of the drug runners — most of whom now fly out of Venezuela with impunity. And they want the Colombian economy to prosper.

FARC is no more leftist or revolutionary any more than the Cosa Nostra is just a group of immigrants providing protection to fellow immigrants.

The FARC is an international criminal force that is weakening the democratic institutions in Colombia the same way the drug cartels did in the past, through intimidation, violence and corruption. To call them anything other than a gang hellbent on the overturning of a democratic government does disservice to the English language.

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Filed under Corruption, South America

Colombian group issues pamphlet to help in libel cases

Colombia — like in too many places in the world — criminalizes libel.

According to the Free Press Foundation (FLIP in Spanish) there have been 48 criminal charges filed against journalists during the last seven years and 25 lawsuits for crimes like slander or libel.

To fight this situation, FLIP released “Outside Justice: a manual for journalists facing slander and libel charges.”

Press freedom group in Colombia releases guide for reporters facing libel, slander charges

FLIP website

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Filed under Harassment, South America

FARC to release French journalist

The Colombian gang FARC announced it would release French journalist Romeo Langlois tomorrow.

The FARC, which started as a leftist insurgency but has now basically settled into narcotics trafficking and kidnapping, captured Langlois after a firefight with Colombian armed forces. Langlois was traveling with the Colombians to report on their activities.

Colombia’s Farc rebels release video of French reporter (BBC)

The announcement came a day before the FARC released a video of Langlois. Not surprisingly the video was sent to Telesur in Venezuela.


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Filed under International News Coverage, South America

Forget politics: FARC is just another narco gang

More proof, as if any more was needed for people not blinded by politics, that the Colombian rebels FARC are nothing more than just another narco gang that has little to do with justice and leftist ideals.

French reporter Romeo Langlois was captured by the FARC as he was accompanying the Colombian military on a series of raids to destroy drug cultivation and production facilities.

Farc rebels ‘holding Romeo Langlois as prisoner of war’

The grabbing of Langlois also shows that the FARC cannot be trusted to hold to their word. Back in February the organization said they would be foregoing kidnapping as a regular part of their “revolutionary” acts.

Originally set up as a revolutionary army back in the early 1960s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia evolved into nothing more than a group of thugs who first hired themselves out to the famous Colombian cartels as bodyguards and security forces. They later began running their own drug cultivation, processing and smuggling operations.

But they always kept up the radical rhetoric and sucked in people around the world who refused to see the change that took place.

Among the supporters of FARC are Venezuela and Ecuador. Presidents Chavez and Correa have repeatedly voiced their support for FARC as a legitimate revolutionary organization. The two leaders even arranged for training and finances for FARC operatives.

The capture of a FARC leader a few years ago included computers. The decrypted files showed letters from FARC’s leaders to Chavez as well as memos to FARC leadership describing diplomatic initiatives involving senior officials of Ecuador.

The FARC is facing fewer supporters in Colombia as the government moves aggressively against drug operations. That leaves Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia as the last group of real supporters. So it is no surprise that more and more of the drug planes, boats and submarines are tracked back to those three countries.

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Filed under Corruption, International News Coverage, South America

Pakistan agency involved in journalist’s killing. But what about the rest of the world?

The New York Times ran a piece yesterday that the Obama Administration now believes that Pakistan’s spy agency ordered the killing of  journalist Saleem Shahzad, May 29 because of his scathing reports about the infiltration of militants in the military.

Pakistan’s Spies Tied to Slaying of a Journalist

It is good that people are staying on top of the Shahzad case. He did what all good journalists should do: follow the facts and report without fear or favor.

And it is good that there is international coverage about this situation. Think about all the money being pumped into Pakistan by the United States and the rest of the developed world. Kinda disheartening to see that some of that money might have been used to repress the values of freedom of speech and press.

But where is the similar global outrage when Miguel Ángel López Velasco, 55, a columnist with the Veracruz daily Notiver, his wife, Agustina Solano de López, and their son Misael, 21, were killed by unidentified assailants June 20?

Or the condemnations of the unsolved murders of journalists is Russia, Colombia or Somalia?

How about the dozen or so journalists killed in Honduras this year? (Five of whom were killed because of their profession.) Or the continued threats to  journalists while the government stands by?

Bottom line:

Threats to journalists exist around the world. The case the Shahzad killing got a lot of attention. But maybe covering that case was just easy for the non-Pakistan media. They were already in the country covering Afghanistan and the Bin-Laden take down. The Shahzad case was personal to them and it was low-hanging fruit.

The  journalists in Mexico, Somalia, Honduras, Colombia are largely unknown to the major media players. So, unfortunately, they get little or no attention. (Until, like in some of the Mexican cases, there is a direct U.S. connection, such as the journalist asking for asylum. But even then…)

No one is asking for 24/7 reporting on the harassment and killings of journalists. But it would be useful to the readers/viewers/listeners if the death of a prominent journalist at the hands of a state agency could be put into a global perspective.

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Filed under Connections, Harassment, International News Coverage

The top predators against free media

Reporters Without Borders has a great page that identifies the top predators in the world against free and independent media.

Thirty-eight heads of state and warlords sow terror among journalists

The list is the usual group of anti-freedom government types: Hu Jintao, Raul Castro and Kim Jong-il.

There are also the Arab country leaders who are fighting against the Arab Spring uprisings such as Muammar Gaddafi and King Hamad Ben Aissa Al Khalifa in Bahrain.

Iran is so dedicated to controlling the press that it has two identified predators: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei.

Besides the government leaders noted above, the RSF also looked at private groups and non-state political entities such as Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the Mexican drug cartels and Colombian militias.

All in all this is an interesting (but not surprising) rouges gallery of anti-free media people and organizations. And to tell you how BAD these guys are, they topped off the list in such a way that Venezuela did not make the list. (And we all know the Hugo Chavez government is no friend of independent media.)

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Filed under Censorship, Press Freedom