Tuesday, January 21, 2014

South America News Roundup Nov 3, 2011: Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela

article from November 3, 2011
By Jamie Douglas

Colombia: Adios, domestic intelligence service

In what was an expected move, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has dismantled his nation’s feared domestic intelligence service, known as DAS. This rogue agency had run its course long before a former chief of the DAS was sentenced to 25 years in prison for having given lists of union leaders, students, and left-wing organizers to the right-wing paramilitaries so they could be liquidated.

This assassin-by-proxy was chosen to head the organization by former President Alvaro Uribe, who himself should be tried in The Hague for his many crimes against humanity. Several former high-ranking members of the agency have also been imprisoned for their part in wiretapping judges, opposition politicians, journalists and dissenting members of the ruling party. Uribe himself has been repeatedly accused of masterminding the wiretapping, but he steadfastly denies that he ever ordered any of that, blaming it instead on “rogue agents.”

The new president signed a decree dissolving the agency, announcing; “Today the DAS turns 58 years old, and at 58, we are going to liquidate it.” This is a huge step forward for Colombia.

Bolivia: Morales vs. indigenous land rights

President Evo Morales had to acknowledge defeat at the hands of the several hundred Amazonian marchers protesting his arrogant encroachment onto a constitutionally guaranteed native territory, the Territorio Indígena Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure. Brazil, which is pushing the project as well as financing it, is waiting for a decision by the Bolivian government to discuss an alternate route. The road project was to provide Brazil with a direct superhighway to the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Morales’ coca-growing brethren have held their own vigil against the jungle-dwelling protesters. They were looking forward to occupying the land the land that would be opened up by the project and using for growing coca crops. They support the road, claiming that the local area will benefit tremendously from the improved access that would have been given to them to transport their wares to market. Who knew there was such a huge market for coca leaves!

Morales recently also purchased for himself a US$30 million Falcon 900 EX executive jet, pretty much top of the line in private jets. It seems that exposure to all of the state’s wealth is turning the formerly socialist coca growing “people’s president” into a connoisseur of finer things as he abandons the promises made to the indigenous tribes who elected him. In addition, he has ordered the construction of a $1.5 million presidential terminal. Power corrupts!

Venezuela: Foreign holdings nationalization campaign

In his ongoing campaign to nationalize foreign holdings, El Maximum Líder in denial has announced that the Bolivarian nation will seize an additional 700,000 acres of land from Agropecuaria Flora, owned by the UK’s Vestey Group. This is the second huge parcel owned by the Vestey Group to be nationalized, and the reason given was that the group would not accept the Venezuelan government’s offer of payment in Bolivars, which then would be almost impossible for them to repatriate.

Meanwhile the tin-pot dictator, a great admirer of Muamar Ghadaffi’s many clownish uniforms, has decided that he will buy off the armed forces for the coming elections by giving them a 50% pay raise, the second major increase given to them in the last 18 months. Maybe, just maybe, he is trying to buy the loyalty of the troops.

Jamie Douglas
San Rafael, Mendoza

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.

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