Lisa Haugaard

Car Bomb in Bogotá, Colombia

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On August 13th, a car bomb was detonated near the Caracol Radio headquarters, one of the largest networks in Colombia. LAWGEF and its partners issued the following statement in response:

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Colombia: A False Sense of Security

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Over two thousand civilians intentionally killed by army soldiers seeking to beef up their body counts and score days off. A massive illegal wiretapping operation by the president’s intelligence agency targeting Supreme Court judges, journalists, opposition politicians and human rights defenders. Seven human rights defenders and leaders of displaced communities killed in May alone, in a nation where threats and attacks against defenders are rarely effectively investigated and government officials’ denunciations of them place them in danger. In which authoritarian country opposed to the United States did these abuses take place? In none other than Colombia, often called “the United States’ best ally in the Western Hemisphere.” And we, the U.S. taxpayers, bankrolled this friendship to the tune of more than $6 billion.

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Listen Up: Time for Change, Latin America & the War on Drugs

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We’ve seen up close how the production and trafficking of illicit drugs has fueled a war in Colombia, corrupted governments in Central America and brought terrifying violence to Mexican communities.  We know about the devastating effects of drug abuse in our own neighborhoods in the United States.  What has become clear is that solutions the U.S. government has pursued, such as the massive aerial spraying campaign in Colombia which destroys food as well as illicit drug crops or aid that encourages the Mexican army to police the streets and checkpoints do not solve the problem. Instead, it leads to more devastation and violence.

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Guatemala: A Blow to Hopes for Justice

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Guatemalans dreaming of and campaigning for a nation governed by the rule of law were devastated June 7th when the head of a UN-supported body set up to investigate organized crime resigned in frustration. Carlos Castresana had labored valiantly, as head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), to investigate the organized crime that has penetrated the nation.

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Colombia's Authoritarian Spell

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The year was 2004. I was contacted by Colombian human rights activists. Would I please come to Colombia to join them in a book launch of the second edition of The Authoritarian Spell? They were worried that the book, a collectively written critique of what they saw as authoritarian tendencies by the administration of President Alvaro Uribe, would provoke a reaction, and wanted international accompaniment. I said yes, and went to one of the book launches in Medellín, where a professor at the local university spoke and introduced me and several of the book’s coauthors, and we had a genteel, scholarly discussion of current events, in an auditorium filled mainly with students and professors. 

Little did we know that the book, criticized by the government as exaggerated, was in fact far too light a critique of the government’s authoritarian tendencies.

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