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WOLA/USOC Press Release: Planning Murders While Negotiating Peace: Colombian Attorney General’s Office Releases Report on Evidence Found In Paramilitary Leader Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar’s Laptop

From the Washington Office on Latin America and US Office on Colombia: Planning Murders While Negotiating Peace: Colombian Attorney General’s Office Releases Report on Evidence Found In Paramilitary Leader Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar’s Laptop Who is “Jorge 40” and why is his computer so important? Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar Pupo is one of the most powerful paramilitary commanders in Colombia, long-time head of the Bloque Norte of the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). He was a lead negotiator with the Colombian government in the paramilitary peace process and is currently under official custody in the detention center in La Ceja, Antioquia, along with the top paramilitary commanders who are waiting to be legally processed under the Justice and Peace law. The computer in question was recovered when Tovar’s right hand man, a paramilitary known as “Don Antonio”, was arrested roughly seven months ago and his laptop was confiscated. The information on this computer sheds light on paramilitaries’ power structures, their involvement in criminal activities, and their links to politicians and to State security forces. What information did Colombian authorities find in “Jorge 40”’s laptop? According to the Washington Post, the internal investigative report by the Attorney General’s Office in Colombia released this month shows how unemployed farmers were paid to act like paramilitary combatants and to participate in demobilization ceremonies while real combatants continued committing crimes. The computer also contains a list of 558 individuals killed by paramilitaries during the cease-fire period. These are persons killed in just one region of Colombia (Atlántico) while paramilitaries were negotiating peace with the government. It provides evidence of paramilitaries’ involvement in the cocaine trade and reveals that the paramilitaries were awarded a number of profitable government contracts during the period. The information found in this computer is highly problematic because it provides evidence of the links paramilitaries have to local, regional and national politicians. This month, Colombia’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into three members of the Colombian Congress (Senators Jairo Merlano and Álvaro García and Representative Eric Morris of Sucre) for alleged links with the paramilitaries. The information found in this computer shows how paramilitaries continued to participate in illegal criminal activities throughout the negotiation and demobilization with impunity. Will the victims of the violence perpetrated by “Jorge 40”’s men obtain justice? Colombian President Álvaro Uribe recently issued a decree which will allow demobilized paramilitaries to reduce their sentences to less than 5 – 8 years. Paramilitaries will be allowed to discount from their sentences time served in the negotiation center and their working in productive projects. The decree issued was meant to clarify interpretation of the Colombian Constitutional Court decision with regards to the Justice and Peace law. Instead it disregards key aspects of the Court’s ruling. What type of justice have victims’ families received so far? On a recent trip to Colombia, WOLA staff spoke with an internally displaced Kankuamo indigenous leader from the Sierra Nevada (an area controlled by Jorge 40’s men). This IDP leader became forcibly displaced after watching his wife and daughter be raped by paramilitaries. His family still cannot return to their lands because of threats from ‘demobilized’ paramilitaries; meanwhile, the rapist, a mid-level paramilitary who was also wanted for 17 murders, served 2 months in jail and was released. Under the new decree, victims of paramilitary crimes committed should be notified of the legal processes against the accused so they can testify. However, according to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, the public notifications issued by the Attorney General’s Office are not being broadcast nationally via radio and television. In addition, they give only 20 days for witnesses to come forward. There are also no provisions to protect those who testify, making it extremely dangerous to do so. The decree also makes individual reparations virtually impossible – so those who have had land stolen by these groups will have little hope of ever getting it back. It is unclear how the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, that include Afro-Colombian and indigenous persons who according to Colombian laws have rights over their territories, will ever have the opportunity to return to their homes if stolen land is not turned in by the paramilitaries. Current U.S. funding to the Colombian paramilitary demobilization The U.S. Congress has approved funding for the Colombian paramilitary demobilization process for up to $20 million in the Appropriations Act for FY 2006. The largest component of this funding is earmarked for reintegration of ex-combatants. The current productive programs for reinserted paramilitaries proposed by the Colombian government have been widely criticized by victims’ organizations. There is concern that some of these productive projects will be implemented on land appropriated by paramilitary groups. It is important that the effectiveness and impact of this funding is carefully monitored by Members of the U.S. Congress to ensure that U.S. funding does not contribute to the strengthening of criminal networks in Colombia. Recommendations · Closely monitor the paramilitary demobilization process and raise concerns about this process to the Department of State (DOS), USAID and Colombian government officials. Congress must make certain that the conditions laid out for assistance to Colombia in the Appropriations Act are being met – this requires the full dismantlement of paramilitary structures and appropriate progress on the process of bringing ex-combatants to justice. · Continue to express support for the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparations. · Ensure that U.S. funding of productive projects in Colombia through USAID is not financing projects that allow ex-paramilitaries to consolidate their political power in regions of Colombia and to develop their illegally acquired land holdings. USAID programs must take into account and strengthen the territorial rights of Afro-Colombians and indigenous persons. For more information: October 17, 2006 article by Juan Forero, Washington Post Foreign Service “In Colombia, a Dubious Disarmament” http://www.wola.org/Colombia/article_dubious_disarmament.htm October 13, 2006 article by Hugh Bronstein, Reuters “Colombian warlord incriminated by his own laptop” http://www.wola.org/Colombia/article_Jorge_40_Laptop.htm October 12, 2006 press release by Colombian Commission of Jurists “CCJ asks for changes in the process for notifying of victims of paramilitaries” http://www.wola.org/Colombia/CCJ_release_paramilitary_victims.htm October 4 press release by Colombian Commission of Jurists “In spite of the changes, the Government continues to ignore the Constitutional Court decision in regulating law 975” http://www.wola.org/Colombia/CCJ_release_law_975.htm Contact: Heather Hanson, Executive Director U.S. Office on Colombia 202-232-8090 Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Senior Associate for Colombia and Haiti Washington Office on Latin America 202-797-2171
Location: 
Colombia

Cocaine Crisis Prompts Spain to Unleash Flood of Anti-Drug Ads

Location: 
Spain
Publication/Source: 
Bloomberg News
URL: 
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=a9FUHdWNYWfc&refer=europe

Maybe They Just Like the Way it Smells

People are getting wasted on cocaine again. Science Blog reports on data from the University of Florida that may suggest a coming epidemic:

Like some drug déjà vu, cocaine use is once again on the rise among students and the rich and famous, a trend University of Florida researchers say likely signals a recurring epidemic of abuse.


"Our data is closest to real time to any data available in the United States," [Dr. Mark] Gold said. "With death reports, there is no fudge factor. The other states will show the same thing: That we are in the early stages of a new cocaine epidemic that is being led by the rich and famous and students with large amounts of disposable income and that is responsible for more emergency room visits and more cocaine-related deaths than we have seen at any time since the last cocaine epidemic."

Oh man, that sounds bad. But Congress will probably think of something. Maybe we’re not being tough enough on cocaine dealers.

And we should warn kids about the dangers of marijuana, which could be causing the cocaine abuse.

Location: 
United States

New Data Hint at Oncoming Cocaine Epidemic

Location: 
FL
United States
Publication/Source: 
University of Florida
URL: 
http://news.ufl.edu/2006/10/17/cocaine-2/

Europeans Turn to Cocaine and Alcohol as Cannabis Loses Favor

Location: 
Publication/Source: 
The Guardian
URL: 
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1923023,00.html

This is Your Government on Drugs

What happens when a satirical TV program tricks 50 members of Italian Parliament into taking a drug test? Controversy.

From News.com

The show tested 50 parliamentarians by applying what appeared to be make-up to their faces, telling them they were to appear in a debate on the country's budget, the ANSA news agency reported in a story soon taken up by other media.

The make-up actually consisted of chemicals that could detect the presence of drugs in sweat on the participants' skin. It detected cocaine in four of the politicians and cannabis in 12. Both the drugs are banned in Italy.

If there’s a surprise here, it’s that the stunt was successful. But Italian reformers were quick to cry “hypocrisy”.

A member of the Green party who favours decriminalising drug use, Paolo Cento, reacted to the news by slamming what he called the "hypocrisy" of the political class which he said "votes for anti-liberty laws while sniffing cocaine".

He’s right. But I’d draw the line there, because I don’t care at all which drugs politicians use as long as they extend to others the liberties they’ve taken for themselves.

Unfortunately, a representative of The Hyena Show, which administered the tests, says that those who tested positive will not be identified individually. The likely result therefore is a face-saving parade of anti-drug rhetoric among Italian Parliamentarians and at worst a full-blown witch hunt, as each of the 50 clamors to clear their name.

Instead, the information should be used as leverage to encourage sensible policy making. If I had this information, I’d offer to withhold it so long as these 16 individuals stopped supporting the drug war. If any of them voted for a harsh drug law or failed to support a sensible reform, that person’s drug use would be front-page news the next day.

Boy, that sounds like fun. If anyone has information on public officials who use illegal drugs I can be reached at smorgan@drcnet.org.

Location: 
United States

Possible 40-year term debated for teen accused of drug smuggling

Location: 
El Paso, TX
United States
Publication/Source: 
Houston Chronicle
URL: 
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4211621.html

A Look Inside Brazil's Drug "Commands"

Brazil, Latin America's largest and most populous nation gets surprisingly little press in the US. The mass media paid some attention back in May, when the country's "commands"--the criminal gangs formed in Brazil's prisons that control the drug trade and act as a de facto government in some of the favelas (ghettos) surrounding Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro--rose up in open rebellion against the Brazilian state. But since then, the silence in the US press has been deafening. Fortunately, not everyone in the English-speaking press is asleep at the wheel, and I want to use this opportunity to recommend an article from Britain's Observer magazine. Called Blood Simple, the piece by Tom Phillips is an interesting capsule history of the commands and a frightening look at the war between the state and the gangs. Here are the opening paragraphs, just to whet your appetite: "Blood simple Four months ago, the hostility between Sao Paulo's police and gangs erupted into violence - the result was open warfare. Tom Phillips reports from a city caught in a spiral of terror Sunday September 17, 2006 The Observer The taxi driver squints uncomfortably. 'It's like fire there,' he warns ominously, as I pass him the address on the eastern limits of Sao Paulo. We cut through block after block of grimy, graffiti-clad housing. Ahead, ragged shantytowns cling to the hilltops; behind us a trail of abandonment stretches back towards the city centre, in the form of empty warehouses and cracked windows. As we begin the descent towards our final destination, the driver looks nervously into his rear-view mirror. A police car's flashing siren ushers us to a standstill. Under the gaze of their Taurus revolvers we are hauled out of the vehicle, told to place our hands on the car roof and given an invasive frisk down. When we are finally sent on our way, after a 10-minute interrogation, the driver is apologetic. 'I had to pull over,' he mumbles. 'If you don't, they open fire.' Welcome to the periferia of Sao Paulo; the impoverished outskirts of one of the world's largest cities, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the megalopolis in search of gold-paved streets have been abandoned to their own dismal fate." There is much, much more about what is going on in one of the worl'd largest cities. Check it out.
Location: 
Sao Paulo, SP
Brazil

Bolivia Seeks Coca Legalization, Path to the Sea

Location: 
Bolivia
Publication/Source: 
Jerusalem Post
URL: 
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1157913633521&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Sentencing: US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Throws out Crack Cocaine Sentence

In a ruling Monday, the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a 24-year prison sentence for a man possessing less than three ounces of crack cocaine. The court held that the US District Court judge who sentenced the man erred in believing he had to sentence the man based on the 100:1 quantity disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Such sentences are no longer mandatory, said the appeals court, only advisory.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/prisondorm.jpg
Under a 1986 law passed in the midst of a wave of anti-drug hysteria, the US Congress enacted a two-tier sentencing scheme for cocaine defendants with crack defendants facing sentences decades longer than powder cocaine defendants for possessing the same amount of the drug. But the appeals court held that since the US Supreme Court last year ruled that federal sentencing guidelines were only advisory and not mandatory, sentencing judges need not be bound by the guidelines.

The three-judge panel held that defendant Johnny Gunter was entitled to a new sentencing hearing. "The limited holding here is that district courts may consider the crack/powder cocaine differential in the guidelines as a factor, but not a mandate, in the... sentencing process," wrote Judge Thomas Ambro for the court.

Assistant US Attorney Robert Zauzmer told the Philadelphia Inquirer the ruling was likely to be cited by every defendant in a crack case. "This is a significant opinion which we are studying closely," he said, adding prosecutors were considering whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider the decision or appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Assistant Federal Defender David McColgin, meanwhile, told the Inquirer the ruling would help reduce the racial disparities existing in cocaine sentencing. "This has a great impact in helping to reduce the racial disparity that stems from that ratio," McColgin said.

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