Let's All Go to Bogotá

Plan Colombia Has Only Just Begun

Next to mercenaries, the missing link in the Times coverage is an unexpurgated report on the Colombian paramilitaries, who are responsible for about 80 percent of the killings in that country. On March 4, Forero weighed in on the paramilitaries, but his story focused more on what the Colombian government says it's doing to stop them than on the fact that the right-wing troops are still getting away with murder. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting recently accused Forero of downplaying the number of paramilitary killings in Barrancabermeja in a January 22 Times story, while reporting not a word on the January 17 paramilitary massacre of two dozen civilians at Chengue. By contrast, the Post's Scott Wilson wrote an "excellent" front-pager on Chengue that ran on January 28. FAIR says Times readers "would be hard-pressed to know that anything had happened at all."

In his Nation cover story this week, Marc Cooper recounts a local report on the January 17 massacre, to wit: "A right-wing paramilitary group entered the northern town of Chengue . . . rounded up the villagers and beat twenty-six of them to death with stones and machetes. As sixty homes were set on fire, the attackers fled with ten other live victims." That same week, Cooper writes, Clinton's State Department waived its obligation to prevent human rights violations associated with Plan Colombia—another key point Forero seems to have overlooked.

For a gnarly look at what's coming up, check out Peter Gorman's February 19 story on Narconews.com. The dateline is Iquitos, Peru, a city close to the Colombian border that has been recently infiltrated by ex-Navy SEALs and state-of-the-art gunboats. Based on his conversations with ex-SEALs, Gorman writes that their mission is to "ply the Putumayo river and kill any FARC rebels . . . trying to retreat onto Peruvian soil." The mercenaries tell Gorman that they will be paid for each left-wing Colombian they kill.


ccotts@villagevoice.com

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