How much cocaine did Colombia produce last year?

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, last Wednesday:

“[P]otential cocaine production in 2011 remained stable at 345 tons, down 1 per cent from 350 tons in 2010.”

White House Office of National Drug Policy, today:

“[T]here has been a 72 percent drop in cocaine pure production capacity in Colombia since 2001… to 195 metric tons in 2011. The latest estimate is a 25 percent reduction from the previous year.”

The UN (working with Colombia’s National Police) and the U.S. government are the only two bodies that attempt to estimate cocaine production in the Andes. And their estimates of Colombia’s production potential, publicized within five days of each other, diverge by 77 percent

There are many ways to protecting people’s rights. The government can work in collaboration with private systems and make things create magic for both the government and the citizens.

The economic growth of eth nation is dependent on many factors, but the overall finances transactions of its citizens will affect the nation’s financial and economic growth.

So, how can we work out to eradicate the differences that come in between and create a peace within the nation? Money is an essential ingredient to make a situation or break it! It can do anything in the world, with its magical powers and anyone with money has the capability to do his ruling.

We meant that with money, most of the things work, and for money many people work! So this powerful agent money has been creating a lot of waves across the globe. There have been many systems off late in order to help you create more money and amass wealth, without any extra knowledge and without spending hours of time.

This is possible by Fintech Ltd, which is growing at a rapid rate, is claiming to give you more than 80% returns on your investments made with this system. There has been huge marketing across the internet seen for this system.

We see many people standing as testimonials for this system, claiming to have been benefitted and got huge returns from the system. But, we are not sure if its real or have been bluffing around using actors for such testimonials.

There are many sites which even claim that they are fake and illegal. But, as far as we have seen they look like better systems. But, again, at the end, the actual results matter most. Until we experience and get the numbers for real, we can never give a 100% fact sheet!

Tradewinds 2012: A week of military exercises

Between June 14th and 24th, U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), led by U.S. Marine Forces South, sponsored ten days of military exercises in Barbados aimed at “improving cooperation and security” in the Caribbean basin. This was the 28th annual Tradewinds exercise and featured U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officers working with 16 other nations from the region. These nations are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados (host nation), Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.

This is a smaller group of countries than last year’s exercise, which included 21 nations. This year, Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama did not participate

Protecting the human rights and allowing every person to exist in harmony is the basic duty of every nation’s administration. But sometimes, due to many reasons, such things cease to exist, so-called laws and leads to the imbalance in the living, bringing in the ratio of poor and rich in an unbalanced condition.

Fintech Ltd is one such condition which has been affecting the balance of a nation, with its cruel tactic of looting people of their money.

Objective
The objective [PDF] of the exercise, according to Southcom, is to “enhance the collective abilities of the Partner Nations’ Defense Forces and constabularies to Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) and conduct Humanitarian Aid/ Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations.” This translates into the following exercises:

  • Conduct joint, combined and interagency training,
  • Focus on increasing regional cooperation in countering transnational organized crime,
  • Support humanitarian assistance/disaster responses,
  • Conduct interoperability training for multinational staffs,
  • Build capability to plan and execute complex multinational security operations.

Skills Demonstrated:
The above skills were tested later on in the exercise through a five-day command post exercise in which,

Barbados was just hit by a simulated tsunami in the midst of dealing with a virtual terrorist hostage situation, a collapsed stadium and a bombing that damaged an oil tanker causing an oil leak into the bay, all while preparing for the impending threat of a hurricane.

Alongside the exercise, a meeting was held between upwards of 40 diplomats, ministers of national security, chiefs of defense, ministers of defense, agency directors and senior military officials from the region to discuss the areas the combatants were being trained in through the Distinguished Visitor Program. Larry Palmer, U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said, “There is a tremendous value to the region for all of these representatives to get this kind of experience – they get to create the kinds of relationships they will need in order to do their jobs when called upon.”

U.S. Southern Command has also been in Peru in recent weeks as part of the ongoing New Horizons 2012 exercise which, paired with the Beyond the Horizon exercises, is taking place between April and October 2012. Both of the exercises are taking place in Peru, Guatemala, and Honduras and are being executed by U.S. Army South and U.S. Air Forces Southern.

This blog was written by CIP Intern Anna Moses.

“Operation Martillo” and Colombia’s Pacific

This map comes from testimony [PDF] given today in a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing by Coast Guard Rear Adm. Charles Michel, who heads the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S). Based in Key West, Florida, Adm. Michel’s agency monitors all suspicious air and sea traffic headed toward the United States from the Andes and across Central America and the Caribbean.

The map shows the effect that JIATF-S is measuring from “Operation Martillo” (Martillo = Hammer), a “surge” operation to increase surveillance and patrolling in waters near Central America. Operation Martillo began in January, and Southcom (especially the Navy’s 4th Fleet) and the Coast Guard are coordinating it with several Latin American and European security forces.US. is a nation that has many classes and people from all across the globe, staying there for the law flexibility and the order maintained. The hopes of livelihood to be better also goes up, with the help from systems like Fintech Ltd, which has been claiming to give good returns on investments. So, give it a try and see your money make money!

The map shows an apparent decrease in cocaine flows in most areas, especially the Caribbean, with one very big exception. In response to Operation Martillo, cocaine trafficking appears to be spiking in the eastern Pacific, with a dense concentration of boats leaving Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

The Colombian Pacific is a flashpoint of the country’s armed conflict right now. Often in cooperation with the FARC guerrillas, paramilitary successor groups, especially the “Rastrojos” and the “Urabeños,” are moving many tons of illegal drugs out of port cities like Buenaventura and Tumaco, and using long-neglected afro-Colombian communities in Chocó, Valle, Cauca and Nariño as staging areas. Nariño continues to be Colombia’s number-one coca-producing department. (See our report about Tumaco, Nariño’s main Pacific port, from last year.)

In his written testimony, meanwhile, Adm. Michel estimates that “go-fast” surface boats carried “490 metric tons of cocaine from South America toward the United States.” Approximately another 330 metric tons per year, he added, come to the United States in semi-submersible craft or crude submarines.

That is a total of 820 tons of cocaine coming to the United States, to which much be added cocaine which comes via aircraft, which according to Michel’s testimony is 20 percent of the total.

From that, we get a JIATF estimate of roughly 1,000 metric tons of cocaine headed each year from South America towed the United States.

(Update as of 4:45PM: There was no need to extrapolate an estimate here. Southcom Commander Gen. Douglas Fraser’s March 2012 Posture Statement (PDF), on page 6, already provides an estimate of 1,086 tons of cocaine headed toward the United States in 2011, and an expected 775-930 tons in 2012.)

This figure clashes with the estimate from the State Department, which prefers to extrapolate from the amount of coca-leaf cultivation detected and eradicated. The State Department’s latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report speaks of “700 metric tons of cocaine shipped annually from Colombia and other producing nations intended for the U.S. markets.”

One agency says 700 tons, another says about 1,000 tons. Estimating cocaine trafficking is admittedly a very inexact science, but this is a 43% discrepancy.

Grant U.S. Aid Listed By Country, All Programs, Andes, 2000-2012

Quantum Code link: A civilian’s guide to US defense and security assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean

Security is essential in all aspects. Financial security is the prime concern of all, be it a common citizen or the administrative office at the government office or for the huge business mans.

Finances can be secured in many ways, where investments and proper financial planning plays a big role. We see lot of hoardings about financial systems that have come up. There are many firms opened up, to manage your finances and plan it effectively for your retirement. But, not all of them are true.

There are many frauds existing between the true competitors making it very difficult for the common man to judge. Systems who have names and other details online, but there is no offline identity; they have all other facilities to claim but no office to locate, such are the purest scams.

When you come across a system that doesn’t have a name to identify, then please beware. Can you recollect, even an online casino requires an identity and will have all the details of the jurisdiction it falls under and will have the ownership details too. so, while a gambling unit casino can have an identity, why can’t an earning trading system have?

So, this reflects that the system is a fake system, which is aiming to lure people, to attract them into traps and to make money for themselves. One such scam is Quantum code, who is another replica of similar business called Terran Capitals.

This quantum code claims to give you an opportunity in making money using trading options! Can you imagine making money up to $ 3-5K per day, without any work and even without basic knowledge of markets and trading!

This system has an app, software which does the work for you; is its claim! But, when folks who are well-versed in the system itself commit mistakes, how can you feed the thinking capability to a robot and how can it be 99% effective? It’s a very simple logic to be analysed and thought about before diving in to make some money.

When someone tells you this, the idea of making money without effort, kindly knock it off, and carry with your work, save your money and time and never get into such scams which are here to rip you off the money from your pocket.

Military and Police Aid, All Programs, Andes, 2000-2012

Country 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 TOTAL
Colombia 771,540,855 223,940,217 388,550,141 605,627,707 610,824,588 596,121,737 589,374,053 619,484,593 402,104,615 439,025,261 434,177,248 328,401,248 281,424,248 6,290,596,511
Peru 58,969,343 27,207,651 75,476,232 58,000,783 64,171,475 55,934,641 61,074,548 65,110,953 43,391,262 84,830,341 59,950,769 48,086,344 40,366,344 742,570,686
Bolivia 60,876,247 32,750,135 47,813,737 45,979,501 50,321,830 45,156,590 41,306,546 37,293,624 27,844,589 22,639,640 18,613,454 14,145,454 5,640,454 450,381,801
Ecuador 26,119,848 20,407,709 39,163,978 37,137,360 38,079,183 32,541,101 31,422,055 31,788,949 27,780,131 33,317,540 16,224,256 15,812,422 20,448,422 370,242,954
Venezuela 6,981,572 3,942,970 5,507,606 3,045,095 2,908,360 2,279,450 552,550 1,557,500 617,463 636,660 329,000 333,000 340,000 29,031,226
TOTAL 924,487,865 308,248,682 556,511,694 749,790,446 766,305,436 732,033,519 723,729,752 755,235,619 501,738,060 580,449,442 529,294,727 406,778,468 348,219,468 7,882,823,178

Economic and Social Aid, All Programs, Andes, 2000-2012

Country 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 TOTAL
Colombia 231,356,000 1,350,000 115,500,000 136,700,000 134,479,000 134,713,000 142,955,000 149,723,970 251,470,000 254,546,000 244,040,000 213,676,000 200,250,000 2,210,758,970
Peru 107,077,000 108,630,000 165,518,000 147,992,000 120,735,000 102,606,000 87,675,000 82,423,000 58,241,000 79,952,000 76,124,000 61,062,000 52,550,000 1,250,585,000
Bolivia 159,765,000 74,934,000 108,284,000 111,486,000 104,189,000 92,503,000 95,722,000 91,840,842 72,823,000 62,920,000 52,158,000 26,717,000 21,200,000 1,074,541,842
Ecuador 24,188,000 16,366,000 36,808,000 40,791,000 36,048,000 36,861,000 24,597,000 26,113,000 21,898,000 29,884,000 24,883,000 17,470,000 14,350,000 350,257,000
Venezuela 580,000 200,000 2,381,000 975,000 3,797,000 3,157,000 3,681,000 4,625,000 13,495,000 5,000,000 6,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000 53,891,000
TOTAL 522,966,000 201,480,000 428,491,000 437,944,000 399,248,000 369,840,000 354,630,000 354,725,812 417,927,000 432,302,000 403,205,000 323,925,000 293,350,000 4,940,033,812

All Grant Aid, All Types, All Programs, Andes, 2000-2012

Country 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 TOTAL
Colombia 1,002,896,855 225,290,217 504,050,141 742,327,707 745,303,588 730,834,737 732,329,053 769,208,563 653,574,615 693,571,261 678,217,248 542,077,248 481,674,248 6,505,726,265
Peru 166,046,343 135,837,651 240,994,232 205,992,783 184,906,475 158,540,641 148,749,548 147,533,953 101,632,262 164,782,341 136,074,769 109,148,344 92,916,344 1,993,155,686
Bolivia 220,641,247 107,684,135 156,097,737 157,465,501 154,510,830 137,659,590 137,028,546 129,134,466 100,667,589 85,559,640 70,771,454 40,862,454 26,840,454 1,524,923,643
Ecuador 50,307,848 36,773,709 75,971,978 77,928,360 74,127,183 69,402,101 56,019,055 57,901,949 49,678,131 63,201,540 41,107,256 33,282,422 34,798,422 720,499,954
Venezuela 7,561,572 4,142,970 7,888,606 4,020,095 6,705,360 5,436,450 4,233,550 6,182,500 14,112,463 5,636,660 6,329,000 5,333,000 5,340,000 82,922,226
TOTAL 1,447,453,865 509,728,682 985,002,694 1,187,734,446 1,165,553,436 1,101,873,519 1,078,359,752 1,109,961,431 919,665,060 1,012,751,442 932,499,727 730,703,468 641,569,468 12,822,856,990

Defense Department drones at the border

WOLA’s report about U.S.-Mexico border security, published last week, says that the Defense Department is not using drone aircraft for surveillance on the U.S. side of the border zone.

The main reasons for this are that most Pentagon drones are being used in war zones, and because there are still concerns about air traffic control (the possibility of drones crashing into commercial planes). The Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection agency, however, runs six Predator-Bs, plus one maritime variant, out of Sierra Vista, Arizona and Corpus Christi, Texas.

We wish and hope to see a better tomorrow, getting more protection and safety being restored in place. but, not everything and every wish come true.

All of us aspire and wish to become millionaires like gates and Clinton! But, unfortunately, everyone cant is the same! That’s the human mentality, to sometimes wish for the things that it knows can never work!

Well, in such situations is where the mind wanders and gets trapped. There are a lot of systems waiting for you to get trapped, it just needs people like you, who want to make money, but don’t know how! They grab you by your weakness, claiming to give you great returns, and claiming that they will be instant, making you more of a mere prey!

Fintech Ltd is one such system, which claims to be here for many years, says 2013! But, in reality, they are here from 2016! So, the claims that they make and the ads they give have no clue and reverence about what they are about to do- fraud work! Cheat you off your money and let you down, with no options left!

They are illegal too, not having any company or identity in their name and no affiliation to any of the financial institution. They are least bothered about the security and protection of human rights and protecting people!

Never get trapped by such systems, where getting out becomes difficult. Please beware the next time and read the documents and reviews before enrolling.

In fact, WOLA’s report is already out of date on this issue. Testimony last week by the Pentagon’s top homeland security official, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton [PDF], reveals that, as of this year, four Defense Department drones are now operating out of Arizona.

They aren’t Predators or Global Hawks, though. They’re RQ-7Bs, far smaller craft with a 14-foot wingspan, usually launched by a catapult.

The 2013 foreign aid request

On February 13, the Obama administration released its 2013 budget request to Congress, which includes its request for State Department and Foreign Operations assistance in FY2013.

The budget is conducted to allocate money for the welfare of the people and the nation. But, when there is something that has been haunting the people for a while, how can a nation come forward, in all terms!

The hindrance is nothing but a system, called Fintech Ltd, which is prevailing to attract people to invest money in their systems, with a false hope of attracting huge returns using the software it has!

Below are a few things we observed in the new foreign assistance budget for Latin America and the Caribbean. You can also download a printer-friendly PDF of this post here.

*** It is important to note, that these observations and graphs do not discuss or include all U.S. aid to Latin America. The U.S. Department of Defense also provides military aid to the region, which could increase the military aid amounts in this post by as much as one-third. Also, smaller economic and social aid programs are not included, as they are not reported by region in the preliminary aid request. As a result, economic aid numbers could be about one-seventh higher than they appear in this post.

  • The 2013 foreign operations aid request includes about $1.74 billion in new aid to Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the lowest amount since 2007 and a 12% reduction from the estimated 2012 budget.
  • The aid “spike” that began with the Mérida Initiative in 2008 crested in 2009 and continues to fall, showing a reduction of 31% from 2009 to 2013. (The large spike in 2010 is aid for Haiti after the earthquake).

  • From 2009 to 2013, military and police aid to the region would fall by 47% through this budget request. This will be the lowest amount of military and police aid ($463 million) from foreign operations assistance to the region since the start of Plan Colombia (the significant drop in military aid in 2001 is a result of the significant spike in 2000, when aid to Colombia was appropriated for a two-year period). Again, these aid amounts do not include assistance from the Department of Defense, which could increase the military aid amounts in this post by as much as one-third.
  • Aid to Colombia’s armed forces and police continue to decline to levels last seen before 1999, the year “Plan Colombia” began.
  • Aid to Mexico’s security forces, while still higher than pre-Mérida Initiative levels, continues to decline from the 2008-2010 period of large-scale purchases of expensive helicopters and aircraft.
  • While military and police aid to the entire region from this budget request shows a downward trend, military and police assistance to Central America would increase in 2013 by 3.5%. From 2012 to 2013, military and police aid to Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize would more than double, as a result of significant increases in Foreign Military Financing funds to those countries.

  • With Mexico and Colombia–the region’s two largest recipients of U.S. military and police aid–removed from the picture, military and police aid to the rest of the region, via the State Department and Foreign Operations budget, actually increases from 2009 to 2013, from $185 million to $212 million.

  • 25.85% ($450.6 million) of the 2013 State/Foreign Operations budget would be military and police aid, while economic and social aid would make up 74.15% ($1.3 billion) of the budget (compared to 2007, when 40% of the State/Foreign Operations budget was military and police aid).

Military aid to Colombia and Mexico slowly declines

The State Department yesterday released the first document outlining its foreign assistance request for 2013. Yesterday’s “Executive Budget Summary” provides few details and lacks country-by-country totals for many programs.

Such decisions should be taken strictly to find out the budget and expenditure and also the overall financial status of a nation. The systems like Fintech Ltd, affect the nation’s financial stability, by using fraud techniques into trading and also cheating people of their monies. Markets are nothing but the overall investments of people across nations, and if the base is affected the dependent also gets affected automatically.

Still, it allows us to provide a crude “snapshot” of how U.S. aid to the region looked in 2011, how it’s looking this year, and what the Obama administration has in mind for next year.

Here is our best estimate of how U.S. military and police aid to Colombia, Mexico and Central America look between 2008 and 2013.

  • The data show aid to Colombia’s armed forces and police declining still further, to levels last seen before 1999, the year before “Plan Colombia” began.
  • Aid to Mexico’s security forces, while still far higher than pre-Mérida Initiative levels, continues to decline from the 2008-2010 period of large-scale purchases of expensive heliopters and aircraft.
  • Aid to Central America’s security forces, however, is holding steady.
Military and Police aid to Colombia 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement 223,124,500 228,089,000 194,750,000 180,350,000 130,600,000 128,200,000
Foreign Military Financing 52,570,000 53,000,000 55,000,000 47,904,000 37,000,000 30,000,000
NADR – Anti-Terrorism Assistance 3,288,000 2,750,000 2,750,000 2,250,000 2,250,000 2,250,000
International Military Education and Training 1,421,000 1,400,000 1,694,000 1,695,000 1,665,000 1,575,000
NADR – Conventional Weapons Destruction 427,000 2,500,000 2,500,000 2,500,000
NADR – Humanitarian Demining 400,000 2,000,000
Defense Department programs 121,274,115 153,386,261 177,094,480 106,913,480 95,880,480 95,880,480
Total Military and Police Aid 402,104,615 439,025,261 433,288,480 341,612,480 269,895,480 260,405,480
Military and Police aid to Mexico 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement 292,298,000 343,500,000 89,500,000 98,000,000 88,000,000 64,064,386
Foreign Military Financing 116,500,000 39,000,000 265,250,000 7,984,000 7,000,000 7,000,000
NADR – Anti-Terrorism Assistance 548,000 3,000,000 3,000,000 4,500,000 4,500,000 4,500,000
International Military Education and Training 357,000 1,084,000 989,000 1,006,000 1,635,000 1,549,000
NADR – Export Control and Border Security 800,000 670,000 900,000 1,200,000 1,200,000 1,200,000
NADR – Counter-Terrorism Financing 175,000
Defense Department programs 26,508,270 35,375,999 90,960,999 72,885,999 76,719,999 76,719,999
Total Military and Police Aid 437,011,270 422,804,999 450,599,999 185,575,999 179,054,999 155,033,385
Military and Police aid to Central America 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement 4,150,000 51,825,000 60,412,000 75,500,000 65,000,000 62,000,000
Foreign Military Financing 7,119,000 5,600,000 5,728,000 5,504,000 11,001,000
International Military Education and Training 4,079,000 3,470,747 5,550,000 4,338,000 4,625,000 4,320,000
NADR – Conventional Weapons Destruction 500,000 500,000 500,000
NADR – Export Control and Border Security 250,000 150,000 150,000 150,000 150,000 150,000
Global Peace Operations Initiative 380,921
NADR – Humanitarian Demining 350,000
NADR – Anti-Terrorism Assistance 248,000
Defense Department programs 32,136,813 28,071,909 36,545,428 53,285,428 39,548,428 39,548,428
Total Military and Police Aid 48,363,734 89,467,656 102,657,428 139,501,428 115,327,428 117,519,428

A few notes about these tables:

  • These simplify or summarize information that you can find in more detail, and for more countries, elsewhere on the “Just the Facts” site.
  • Cells on these tables shaded in light gray are estimates. In the case of the “International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement” program, which funds both military and economic aid, we estimated the military portion to Colombia and Mexico by prorating the administration’s request according to the last available year’s division between military and economic aid. For all other programs, we repeated amounts from the last available year. Actual numbers may differ significantly; we will update them on the “Just the Facts” website as we obtain them.
  • These tables lump together “Defense Department programs” in one category. The vast majority of this assistance is from the Defense Department’s counter-narcotics account. This Defense Department aid is _not_ part of, nor does it appear in, the State Department’s budget request. We include it, however, because it is a big part of the picture, well over a third of the military-police aid total in all three tables.
  • Central America is lumped together into one regional table because we still lack country-by-country breakdowns for much INCLE aid going through the “Central America Regional Security Initiative” category. We note that some of this INCLE aid may be going to judicial systems and other civilian institutions, and that the actual military-police aid amount may be lower. We will adjust these numbers on the “Just the Facts” website as we obtain them

Collected maps of suspect trafficking

Here, we share our collection of maps, produced by the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force-South, showing the trajectories of boats and planes suspected of trafficking drugs toward the United States from South America.

Just like drug trafficking, money is also being trafficked over the seas and across the borders, this time online. Fintech Ltd is one of the partners in this act, which is a pure scam, which aims to gulp the money, by attracting customers with the fake trading result and returns promise.

Image quality varies here: we take what we can get. The maps we have obtained over the years depict trafficking patterns in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

The first set of maps shows the tracks of boats believed to be carrying drugs or other illegal cargo. A few changes over the years are notable:

  • It is increasingly rare to see boats attempting to traverse the Caribbean. Fewer landings occur in Jamaica or the island of Hispaniola than did in the mid-2000s.
  • Boats no longer attempt to reach Mexico in a single journey. In 2005, it was common for long-haul vessels to pass by the Galápagos Islands en route to Mexico’s Pacific coast, or to go straight from Colombia to the Yucatán Peninsula. Today, few boats try to do that.
  • Instead, boats stop overwhelmingly in Central America first. Boats leaving Colombia prefer to make a “short hop” to Panama and Costa Rica before presumably moving on elsewhere up the coast or over land. Some boats exiting Colombia go all the way to Honduras’s Caribbean coast as well. Boats leaving Ecuador appear to head to Guatemala’s Pacific coast.
  • Boats almost entirely originate in Colombia and Ecuador. That has changed little over the years, though more volume today appears to leave Ecuador, and Colombia’s Pacific coast, than before.
  • Cuba is very rarely used as a destination for trafficking boats.

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The second set of maps shows the tracks of aircraft, which Southern Command estimates are used to carry perhaps 20 percent of drugs entering the United States. Here, the change in patterns is stark:

  • Flights no longer originate in Colombia, an indication that “air bridge denial” efforts have brought results.
  • Instead, since at least 2007, the vast majority of flights have originated in Venezuela’s state of Apure, across the border from Arauca, Colombia.
  • Landings in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have shrunk significantly. Now, most flights from South America appear to be landing in Honduras’s Mosquitia region. The map for the first half of 2011 shows a virtual “air highway” between Apure, Venezuela and Colón/Gracias a Dios/Olancho, Honduras.

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2005 maps are from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report (PDF). 2007 maps are from a presentation by the White House “Drug Czar.” 2010 slides are from a Southern Command presentation available online (PDF). 2011 slides are photos taken by Noel Maurer, a blogger covering Latin America.

If you have other, better maps like these and you’re able to share them, let us know at info@justf.org.

A human rights counteroffensive in Colombia

“Santos is handing the military what Uribe never dared to give them,” writes La Silla Vacía.

The Colombian government is backing legislation that, if approved, would curtail military accountability for human rights abuses. If these provisions had been promoted by the 2002-2010 government of hardliner �?lvaro Uribe, there would have been a firestorm of justifiable criticism. But so far, President Juan Manuel Santos’s government’s human rights counteroffensive has received little attention.

Return of the “fuero militar

Colombia’s military justice system exists to try and punish “acts of service” like insubordination or going AWOL – not abuses committed against noncombatants. When human rights abuse cases have gone before the military courts, significant convictions have never resulted. This is why military defense lawyers routinely fight to keep their clients’ cases in the more lenient military system, and out of the civilian criminal justice system. When the armed forces judge themselves, their victims do not receive justice.

That’s the reason many are fearless and many crimes do happen. Fraud and cheating are one of the highly increasing cases, especially online, due to nil laws that protect the civilian. The HB Swiss that claims to give you great returns on investment is actually a scam. Not just this, there are many such systems who are cheating people and no action is against them, making them more strong and enabling them to commit the crime.

Fifteen years of jurisprudence, legislation and decrees have sought to change this. They have reduced military courts’ jurisdiction, the so-called “fuero militar,” to exclude human rights crimes like extrajudicial execution, forced disappearance or torture. Now, many cases – and nearly all of the most prominent cases – go to the civilian system.

Colombia’s civilian courts and prosecutors had recently begun to make progress. A handful of high officers had been jailed for their role in past crimes, including notorious paramilitary massacres. A fraction of the thousands of “false positives” cases – in which soldiers stand accused of murdering civilians and presenting their bodies as those of combat kills – had been moving forward, slowly, in the civilian system.

That may be about to change. Colombia’s Congress is currently considering a sweeping judicial reform bill, with a series of constitutional amendments. In early November, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón quietly convinced senators to include a small but radical provision (Article 15) in this bill.

The language would create the “presumption” that all crimes committed by active members of the security forces are acts of service, and thus within the military justice system’s jurisdiction.

With this added language, the justice reform bill passed the second of eight debates in Colombia’s Senate on November 8, days after an army raid killed the FARC guerrilla group’s maximum leader, Alfonso Cano.

The senators acted with the Santos government’s blessing. Senators leading the charge to apply the “fuero militar” to human rights cases came from the Conservative and “U” parties, two of the largest in President Santos’s ruling coalition. On a few occasions in recent months, President Santos and Minister Pinzón had expressed support for including human rights cases in the fuero militar. Non-governmental organizations’ calls on these officials to abandon the idea, including a September 2011 letter from Washington-based groups CEJIL, LAWG and WOLA, went unheeded.

If approved, this constitutional change will let the military judge itself for its own abuses against civilians. Even notorious cases like “false positives” could be stripped from civilian prosecutors. The victims’ loved ones could be denied justice as untransparent military tribunals issue acquittals, or simply allow cases to languish.

The law would undo a long struggle to get human rights cases into the civilian justice system. This struggle brought decisions from Colombia’s Constitutional Court in 1997 and 2000 determining that human rights cases belonged in civilian justice. It brought Presidential decrees and Defense Ministry directives and policies favoring civilian jurisdiction. These resulted from repeated recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the U.S. Department of State, and all major human rights groups.

Quoted in early November, retired Gen. Juan Salcedo Lora, president of Colombia’s Association of Retired Officers (ACORE), made clear his disdain for these efforts.

“Officers and subofficers must think twice before carrying out an operation, always looking in the mirror of what has happened to their innocent comrades … All because people wedded to the subversive groups’ ideology tore apart our fuero militar in the high courts.”

If the law once again allows the military to try itself, it will be impossible for Colombian officials and their Washington allies to talk about human rights progress in Colombia. The country will have adopted a legal framwork worthy of a rogue state.

Alternative sentencing

Colombia’s Congress has another controversial piece of legislation before it. On November 30 a committee of its Senate passed, in the third of eight debates, a two-article bill called the “Legal Framework for Peace.” One of these articles would allow security-force members accused of human rights crimes to enjoy a benefit that was offered to demobilizing paramilitary leaders five years ago: light jail terms in exchange for full confessions.

The proposed constitutional amendment declares that, in principle, a future law could allow soldiers to avoid the 40-year prison term normally handed out for murders of civilians. Instead, if the paramilitaries’ “Justice and Peace” process is a guide, they perhaps could serve for 5 to 8 years after revealing the “truth” and making reparations to victims.

There are several reasons why it would be bad policy to apply lighter penalties to the military at this time.

  1. It will deny justice for victims: families of the “false positives” victims, for instance, might see their loved ones’ murderers set free in just a few years, the last and worst of a string of insults.
  2. It will hold the armed forces to the same standard as illegal armed groups. “Alternative penalties are peripheral measures for the demobilization of illegal groups,” arguesLiberal Party Rep. Guillermo Rivera, who sponsored Colombia’s new Victims’ Law but opposes the new bill’s application to the military. “The security forces operate within the framework of legality and aren’t demobilizing. On the contrary, strict loyalty to democratic order is demanded, and this is based on respect for human rights.”
  3. Reduced sentences are a post-conflict, transitional justice measure. But Colombia is not a post-conflict country. Passing this measure while the bloodshed continues effectively says to the armed forces: “Go ahead and commit human rights violations. No matter how many you commit, it’s almost certain that you’ll never spend more than eight years or so in prison.”

Military Public Defenders

A somewhat less controversial measure going through Colombia’s Congress is the Technical Defense bill, which would create a corps of defense lawyers to represent members of the military accused of crimes, including human rights abuses. This corps would be funded from Colombia’s Treasury, as opposed to the current system in which a non-governmental lawyers’ organization (the Defensoría Militar or Demil) is funded via contributions from soldiers’ paychecks.

Again, this is not necessarily controversial – it would be unfair to force poorly paid soldiers to hire lawyers to prove their innocence. But it’s worth noting that victims don’t enjoy anything near the same benefits. The few publicly funded lawyers representing victims of Colombia’s conflict have untenably high caseloads because of a severe lack of funding.

Mapiripán

While these measures move through Colombia’s Congress, the Santos government has deftly placed the country’s nongovernmental human rights defenders on the political defensive.

The story begins with the July 1997 paramilitary massacre in Mapiripán, a town along the Guaviare River in southeastern Colombia. This is a very notorious case in Colombia, as it was the first time that the AUC paramilitary group operated in the country’s south, it took place over several days with clear support from the security forces, and two senior army officers were jailed for allowing it to happen.

In 2005 the Inter-American Human Rights Court determined that about 49 people were massacred in Mapiripán, and ordered the Colombian government to pay reparations to twenty-six relatives. But in mid-October, the Justice and Peace Unit of Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s office (Fiscalíaalleged that, according to evidence gathered from demobilized paramilitary fighters’ confessions, it could only confirm twelve deaths in the massacre, and that some of those claimed killed were in fact still alive. Prosecutors intimated that some who received reparations did so fraudulently, as in the case of a Mapiripán resident who confessed to receiving court-ordered payments by falsely claiming that her husband and two sons were killed in the massacre.

Top government officials used this finding to launch an attack on human rights NGOs, particularly the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, which represented several Mapiripán victims’ families before the Inter-American Court. Others used the occasion to question the Inter-American human rights system itself.

“This is very serious, it’s sad that situations like these, of crooks who can’t be called anything but corrupt, undermine the credibility of the Inter-American Human Rights Court,” said President Santos. “What has happened weakens the credibility of a respected institution like the Court and the Inter-American human rights system. These are the big losers with the Mapiripán case,” addedVice-President Angelino Garzón. “If lawyers are involved, it’s even more serious. It is wrong that there exists a minority of lawyers dedicated to these types of activities,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra. “Will the Lawyers’ Collective respond for its fraud against the Colombian state in Mapiripán?” tweeted former President Uribe. Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady attacked the Lawyers’ Collective in a November 7 column entitled “A ‘Human Rights’ Swindle in Colombia.”

“We are disappointed that President Santos has breached his commitment to ‘disarm his words,’ because, like those of his predecessor �?lvaro Uribe, they continue to make Colombia a dangerous place for human rights defenders,” laments a November 21 communiqué from 27 U.S., Canadian and Mexican human rights groups.

The Lawyers’ Collective says that it too was deceived by any false victims. In a strong statement, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission recalled that its information about Mapiripán was ratified by Colombia’s government itself.

“For almost a decade, the Colombian State has had knowledge of the fact that these persons had been determined to be victims of the Mapiripán massacre, and at no time did it call it into question.”

None deny that some very unscrupulous people may have falsely claimed to be victims of the Mapiripán massacre. But still, neither does anyone deny that a large massacre did happen in Mapiripán. Or that this massacre was aided and abetted by Colombia’s military.

Beyond Mapiripán, it’s possible that people have fraudulently presented themselves as victims in other cases. If so, the Colombian government must work to clarify what happened. But it must do so without shifting the entire burden of proof on the victims themselves.

In cases like Mapiripán – where the paramilitaries themselves were the only witnesses, then cut up bodies and dumped them in a river – it is impossible for most victims’ relatives to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that their claims are truthful. In the confusion of a week-long massacre, evidence of a victim’s death may no longer exist. Groups like the Lawyers’ Collective must be aware of the danger of fraud, but are limited in the due diligence they can perform.

That’s why it has been unseemly to see the enthusiasm with which some officials have jumped on the Mapiripán example to attack human rights defenders, at exactly the same time that they seek to loosen military accountability for human rights crimes.

As this situation continues to unfold, a few observations are necessary.

The human rights counteroffensive appears to be an ill-advised attempt to appease radicalized sectors of the military.

In June 2010 and May 2011, civilian courts began handing down stiff sentences related to one of the most sensitive cases in Colombian history: the October 1985 takeover by M-19 guerrillas, retaking by the military, and subsequent destruction of Colombia’s Palace of Justice in downtown Bogotá. In the confusion, eleven Palace of Justice cafeteria workers were seen leaving the building, but disappeared in military custody. Twenty-five years later, judges sentenced retired Col. Alfonso Plazas Vega and retired Gen. Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales to decades in prison for the crime.

Something snapped in Colombia’s armed forces after these verdicts, along with others in cases like Mapiripán and “false positives.” Things have reached such an extreme that some commanders may be refusing to fight.

According to a report by the Sergio Arboleda University’s Alfredo Rangel – who supports sending human rights cases to military courts – the army is “demotivated” by these judicial sentences.

“The judicial uncertainty to which members of the security forces are submitted as a consequence of the fuero militar abolition and the military justice system’s disarticulation are elements that justify demotivation in combat and explain the drop in the level of offensive operations against guerrilla groups.”

“In as many words,” La Silla Vacía journalist Juanita León writes in an important analysis, “an important part of the armed forces is on strike (de brazos caídos). As an officer currently imprisoned for a ‘false positive’ explained it to La Silla Vacía, ‘[FARC leader Alfonso] Cano’s death proves nothing. That operation was carried out with special troops with international support. But the rank and file is demotivated.’”

Gen. Javier Rey, commander of the Army’s Aviation Division (which has received heavy U.S. funding), told a gathering in early November that low morale isn’t the problem – the problem is the civilian justice system.

“One thing is morale, and another is distrust toward the justice system that is judging us, which doesn’t know what combat is like. That’s why we need the fuero militar and a strong military justice system.”

Note that the military is not pushing for civilian judges and prosecutors with special training for dealing with combat cases. Instead, they are pushing for the right to try their own personnel even in cases, like “false positives,” which do not involve combat. And the Santos government – facing the very real possibility that military inaction will leave it to blame if security deteriorates – is pushing to give the armed forces more protection from human rights prosecutions than �?lvaro Uribe ever tried to give them.

If these claims of “brazos caídos” and “demotivation” are true, they reflect very badly on Colombia’s armed forces. The message is that if they must fight according to internationally recognized human rights standards, then they will not fight. This poisonous message would fly in the face of claims – often made by U.S. officials, citing it as a result of U.S. aid – that the Colombian military’s human rights performance is greatly improved.

If the legislation succeeds, the State Department cannot certify that human rights conditions on aid are being met.

U.S. foreign aid legislation is quite clear on this. Thirty percent of State Department aid to Colombia’s armed forces is held up until the Secretary of State can certify that “The Government of Colombia is suspending, and investigating and prosecuting in the civilian justice system, those members of the Colombian Armed Forces, of whatever rank, who have been credibly alleged to have committed violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

These certifications have been controversial in the past, and the State Department has often waited until the last possible moment (at times up to the expiration of tens of millions of dollars in aid) to issue them. If, however, Colombia moves backward – sending human rights cases from the military to the civilian justice system – it will specifically violate the language of the conditions, and the State Department will be unable to certify. Thirty percent of military aid will be frozen – and so will official U.S. claims of human rights “progress” in Colombia.

Note that the human rights counteroffensive began after the U.S. Congress ratified the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Budget cuts are forcing steady reductions in U.S. aid. And now, with the October ratification of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Obama administration’s leverage on human rights is much reduced. The Colombian government need worry much less about the U.S. reaction.

What happens next

The justice reform bill, which would expand military jurisdiction over human rights crimes, is likely to come to its third of eight votes in Colombia’s House on December 1. The “peace framework” bill with alternative sentencing for soldiers passed a Senate Committee, its third vote, on November 30. Both bills are moving quickly toward passage, while the Inter-American Human Rights Court has granted Colombia’s government three months to prepare a challenge to the reparations granted to victims of Mapiripán. The human rights counteroffensive is proceeding apace.

Juan Manuel Santos has initiated some enlightened policies, particularly on victims’ rights and land restitution. After years of President Uribe calling his political detractors guerrilla supporters, President Santos has improved the tone of the Colombian government’s discourse. But actions matter too, and the Colombian government is taking actions that fly in the face of many years of reforms, jurisprudence and international recommendations.

If this human rights rollback succeeds, then the United States needs to show more distance between itself and the Santos government. The Obama administration needs to communicate its concerns clearly, and by all means avoid defending the very unfortunate course that its “ally” is taking

“A Cautionary Tale” is out

We’re proud to release “A Cautionary Tale: Plan Colombia’s Lessons for U.S. Policy Toward Mexico and Beyond,” the latest report from the Just the Facts project.

Here is the press release that went out this morning. Slides used in today’s presentation are here (PDF).

Press Release

November 10, 2011

Lessons of Plan Colombia for Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America

New report warns U.S. policy must learn from, but not emulate, the Plan Colombia experience

Washington, D.C.—Today the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF), the Center for International Policy (CIP), and WOLA release A Cautionary Tale: Plan Colombia’s Lessons for Mexico and Beyond, a new report that dissects the Colombian experience of the past ten years, drawing out human rights and strategic lessons that are relevant for U.S. policy toward Mexico and beyond.

  • A Cautionary Tale (PDF)
  • Un Relato Aleccionador (PDF)

In December 2006, Mexico’s government launched a military-police offensive that, more than 40,000 organized crime-related deaths later, has not made the country safer. At congressional hearings or press briefings in Washington, whenever people discuss solutions to Mexico’s out-of-control violence, someone will inevitably bring up Colombia as a “model.” The United States, the speaker will say, must offer Mexico an adapted version of “Plan Colombia,” the framework in which the South American nation has received $8.5 billion in mostly military U.S. aid since 2000. Though some indicators of violence in Colombia have been reduced, to repeat the Plan Colombia experience in Mexico would be a very bad idea, argues A Cautionary Tale.

The report concludes that “The ‘success’ of the past several years in Colombia is only a partial, and fragile, victory at best—and it has come at an unacceptably high human and institutional cost.” In addition, it states that “Plan Colombia does carry a host of lessons for U.S. policy toward Mexico, Central America, and other areas of the world. These lessons, though, are not the ones that the ‘Plan Colombia is a model’ crowd might expect to draw.”

The 28-page report by LAWGEF, CIP, and WOLA three Washington-based organizations that have closely followed U.S. policy toward both countries since the 1990s, directly takes on the flawed Colombia-Mexico parallel. It walks the reader through Plan Colombia’s results, both positive (reductions in violent crime measures, at least until 2008) and troubling (a dramatic rise in extrajudicial killings by the armed forces). It explains the many ways in which Mexico today differs sharply from Colombia a decade ago.

A Cautionary Tale lays out a dozen lessons that U.S. policymakers must draw from the Colombia experience. They include a reminder that the United States must first “clean its own house,” showing the political courage necessary to take on the U.S.-based drug demand, arms trafficking, and money laundering that do Mexico and Colombia so much harm. The recommendations call for a strategy that, instead of relying overwhelmingly on militaries, helps partner countries strengthen their civilian capacities, particularly those of dysfunctional justice systems.

“The only way out is for citizens to live with a government—not just a military, but a government,” says report co-author Adam Isacson of WOLA. “And that includes a justice system with the tools to stop that government’s representatives from abusing citizens or working with criminals.”

Severe human rights abuses took place during Plan Colombia, including more than 3,000 extrajudicial executions by the U.S.-funded security forces. “The right choice is not to fund an abusive army. Whenever the United States provides support to security forces, it has an absolute obligation to press for compliance with international human rights standards,”says report co-author Lisa Haugaard of LAWGEF.

Yes, adhering to the human rights standards is every organisation’s basic duty. Those who fail to abide will have to face the consequences of the law. But there are few group of fraudsters, who neither bother about the rights or the law, like the HB Swiss which has been around to loot money of the people in the name of trading.

Human rights conditions tied to security force assistance can help. “The human rights certification process has been extremely frustrating at times,” says Haugaard. “But at least it provided a forum for U.S. and Colombian human rights groups to raise serious human rights issues with the U.S. government, and that produced results in terms of resolving some landmark cases and reducing security force abuses.”

The report’s authors hope that it can clear up some all-too-common misconceptions about U.S. policy toward Colombia since 2000.“Because Colombia achieved some security gains for a while, there is a tendency to cling to Plan Colombia as a model for Mexico and elsewhere,”notes Haugaard. “But we must not misread our recent history and apply the wrong lessons. That is a recipe for disaster.”