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Last Item of this Briefing: Narco News Perú Analysis

The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Today's Press Briefing

September 23, 2000

"Merchant of Death" Speaks

CIA-Coddled Arms Dealer Sarkis Soghanalian Does Interview from US Prison with Peru Daily

"I never sold weapons to the FARC... I never sell to the Left," says the man who supplied arms to dictators Ferdinand Marcos, Anastasio Somoza, Saddam Hussein and Nicolai Ceaucescu and who now admits he is singing to please his US captors -- if they'd only just let him return to Amman, Jordan, says the Death Merchant, he could prove his claims with documents.

Narco News translates this interview not because we believe Soghanalian's tale, but, rather, because it reflects what US officials want him to say, and thus provides a window into Washington's agenda in the crisis underway in Perú and in all América.

For more background on Soghanalian, his history with US officials, and this interview, see our analysis of the Peruvian situation below, the final item of yesterday's press briefing.

Translated from the daily La República, Lima, Perú

Friday, September 22, 2000

"The sale was for 60,000 rifles and Luis Aybar had the documents fixed"

By Angel Páez
Special Correspondent Los Angeles, California

The 10,000 Kalishnikov automatic rifles that Colombian guerrillas succeeded in purchasing from arms traffickers headed by José Luis Aybar represent only part of a larger armaments deal.

According to Sarkis Soghanalian, intermediary for the Jordanian government and known as "The Merchant of Death" there were 60,000 rifles. "Another kind of weapon was also sent but I am not aurhorized to reveal it," he said.

Interviewed in the Metropolitan Detention Center, awaiting a federal court decision in which he is charged for alleged involvement in a case of bank fraud, Soghanalian delivered valuable information about the characteristics of one of the most spectacular arms sales operations in recent times.

He said that the Kalashnikov rifles preceded a larger deal that included heavy artillery. Aybar suggested that the chief of the 18th Covert Division, stationed in Rímac, show to Soghanalian the old Russian T-55 tanks deployed there so he would have an idea of what kind of modernization the Peruvian army requires.

In the meetings he had on the Military Headquarters, in January 1999, the Merchant also received a demonstration regarding what kind of warmaking material the Peruvian troops need.

Soghanalian is a known provider of war machinery of Russian origin, that in recent years have been collected by the armed forces to acquire two MIG-29 planes, SU-25 planes and anti-aerial systems "Tunguska" and "TOR", as well as "Ilyushin" airships for training and missiles for MI-25 helicopters. (Last June, a Ukranian was detained on the island of Trinidad y Tobago with a shipment of arms supposedly purchased in Bulgaria.)

They wanted it all. "This suggests that they didn't only ask for rifles. There had been much more," Soghanalian said.

"Why weren't the shipments continued," we asked him.

"It was I who paralyzed the operation," he said. "I had my reasons to do it. It could not continue. I found evidence that I didn't like. So I stopped the operation because I didn't like it," he said.

What happened?

"I had my reasons and I can't say what they were. The time will come for me to tell it. I am under federal protection and can't say anything. The laws are applied very severely. If I spit in the hallway, I could be violating a law. I want you to understand me," he said.

Was it a question of money? We asked.

"They hadn't finished paying me. They still owed me. They didn't pay me all of it," he said, angrily. "I trusted them, I through that everything was absolutely legal and that's how it was."

There were only 10,000 rifles?

"No, there were 60,000. And they wanted more weapons. I told them, okay, if everything was legal. I demanded official permits from them and they gave them to me. I don't know how they got them, but they did it. I have all of this in Ammán, in my offices in Jordan. When I get out of here, I'm going there. I hope so. There is nothing more to hide. But understand that right now I cannot give details because I am under federal protection," he replied.

The Whole Truth

Sarkis Soghanalian is apparently negotiating his freedom in exchange for information. A long time collaborator of the US Central intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this arms seller pled guilty in 1992 to gain a lesser sentence of six and a half years for selling US helicopters to Irak. Later he gave information about the arsenal of Saddam Hussein and about an organization of $100 bill counterfeiters on the world market.

On this occasion, he will be submitted to the same process. However, due to the character of the charges by the Peruvian government - charges that accuse him of being a connection in the operation of detouring arms to the FARC - and against the advice of his defense lawyer, Soghanalian agreed to be interviewed by La República, he said, because he wanted "for some elemental facts to be known."

"I am going to say that which does not compromise my situation," he said. "With the facts that I offer, I don't compromise any other country nor my own safety. Everything I say can be confirmed with the documentation that I possess."

How did the operation begin? When did you first have contact with the Peruvians?

"I am known around the world as an arms seller," he explained. "I'm not a manufacturer. People search me out for my reputation and trust."

Who sought you?

"A friend, in Paris (where Sarkis Soghanalian has a luxury apartment in the most exclusive section of the French capital, the Champselyses). It was a friend that was trying to make some electric power deals in Perú. It was him that asked me for help. My friend is an Italian."

This "Italian friend" would be Ricardo "Dino" Baldini, a citizen of Italian origin that during the 1980s was connected with a scandal of "Agusta" helicopter sales to Belgium. Baldini was accused of having bribed Belgian authorities to acquire new airships.

The Contacts

We asked: Is this about Ricardo Baldini?

"I'm not giving names. Please, understand that I still can't do that," said the arms seller.

What kind of help did he seek?

"They talked to me about how the Peruvian armed forces had ancient equipment and lacked many things. What they had, for example, Mirage 2000 airplanes that could not fly and were without weapons. And they had bought Russian equipment and this turned out to be a bad deal for them. They needed help," Soghanalian recalled.

Among the "bad deals" that the contacts that were referred to Soghanalian had made, was the purchase of the MIG-29 and SU-25 planes. As La República reported in 1996 - and later confirmed independently by other dailies such as the New York Times and the Miami herald and specialized publications such as Jane's and Aviation & Aerospace Weekly - the purchase from Russia of those planes turned out to be a fiasco since the Russian Federation that made the planes refused to supply Perú with parts and maintenance for the machines.

Only after a Perú paid a debt of $1.3 million dollars to the Boris Yeltsin government did the Russians agree to help Perú.

However, the new contracts resulted onerous for our country, in a manner that the combat planes from the start were a "rip-off," according to Fujimori, that ended up costing much more in reality than the official propaganda said.

"I said to my Italian friend that I had a license in Jordan to deal in military equipment and that in all cases we could speak in this country. In France I didn't have permission, thus it was better to talk in Ammán, I told him. He accepted. I could not offer them any other thing," Sarkis Soghanalian explained.

At what moment did you meet José Luis Aybar?

"They came to Jordan. My employees received them and they made the arrangements on their visas and everything. They came with the Italian."

And how did José Luis Aybar introduce himself?

"As a captain of the Peruvian army and representative of the government. But José Luis Aybar had been expulsed from the Army in 1994 and had no rank, we told him. False or not, he came with all the documents," Soghanalian affirmed energetically. "Because of that he was an official representative because he presented the papers that accredited him as such. If those papers were false, the Peruvian government should have discovered that."

They had all the papers

What did they want to buy?

"There is a process that must be followed to buy arms. We sit and negotiate in the presence of a brigadier of the Jordanian army, who normally works in the office of military intelligence." He recalled: "We asked them for their papers and made copies of everything. Aybar had an identity card and two passports. We asked him the kinds of questions that we ask in any kind of a deal. But he lacked the Certificate of Final Use of the Peruvian government. He said that he would obtain it."

"While they looked for those documents, we consulted with the Jordanian government if it had political relations with Perú. And we asked the respective authorities if the deal we were going to make with Perú would damage the interests of the principal allies of Jordan with interests in the region. Five days later, the response was positive: there were no problems."

"Later, Jordanian military intelligence contacted, by telephone and by fax, its counterparts in Perú to verifty that the documents presented to us were correct. The information we received from Lima was positive. The documents they had delivered were genuine. Later, Aybar presented the Certificate of Final use of the Peruvian government. Everything was in order."

Do you remember the telephone numbers from where the Peruvian intelligence service sent the permits? We asked.

"Yes, and we also have the documents they sent by fax. Everything is in Ammán, Jordan," he confirmed.

We continued: What passports did Aybar have?

"He had two. One for civilian use and the other for official use. It was similar to what I use to come to the United States," he said.

In the name of the Defense Minister: The Account in Curazao

Although he didn't mention it in the interview, Sarkis Soghanalian, to confirm that the arms would go to Perú, reported beforehand to his contacts in the CIA and the FBI, according to information obtained by La República in Washington.

"The Merchant of Death" also had reported that he was paid part of the money by means of a bank account on the Caribbean island of Curazao, that supposedly was in the name of the Peru Defense Minister.

Apparently, Sarkis Soghanalian aborted the deal when the CIA or some US intelligence source knew that the arms supposedly sold to Perú were detoured to the FARC.

There is another name that Soghanalian did not want to talk about: Charles Acelor, a US Citizen, born in France, with whom the arms trafficker first worked due to the recommendation of Ricardo "Dino" Baldini. Acelor, who lives in Miami, ran one of Sarkis' operations centers, and was under house arrest until recently due to a financial crime.

Soghalian declined to provide details of the participation of Acelor, but Washington sources told La República that Acelor knew from the start that the Kalashnikov rifles were going to the FARC.

He declares himself an ally of Jordan and the US

"I never sold arms to the FARC"

Did you know that the arms that the supposed Peruvian officials bought went to the hands of the guerrillas of the FARC? we asked him.

"I never sold to the FARC!" he exclaimed. "The insinuation bothers me. I never sold arms to anybody on the Left. I only participate in an operation under two conditions. The first, that the deal is not against the United States or the interests of countries allied with the United States. The second, that the weapons are not illegal but are sold by a government. I could not have negotiated with the FARC because it would affect the interests of the United States. And the arms that I sold were not illegal: the owner was the military of the government of Jordan. This is absolutely clear."

At what moment did you realize that the arms did not go to the Peruvian government but went to the FARC?

"I gave them the cargo and they transported it to Perú. After returning, so that I would continue supplying them with weapons, they were supposed to bring the certificate that said the arms were received by Peruvian authorities in the respective military airports. If they falsified those papers, I wouldn't have known because I wasn't in Perú. This was the jurisdiction of the Peruvian authorities. We could not do the work of the government of Perú.

Once more, the statements of Sarkis Soghanalian demonstrate that the organization of José Luis and Luis Frank Aybar Cancho had the complicity of high officials in charge of military airports. According to the ex-technicians that participated in this contraband operation, Santos Cenepo Shapiama and Luis Alberto Meza, after the four flights that arrived to ship the rifles to Colombian territory; on one occasion they landed in Iquitos and the other three supposedly in the Air Group Number 8, in Callao.

We ask: Could you have failed at some moment and made a mistake?

"I know Jordanian laws perfectly and I didn't violate any," he responded. "All my actions are known by the Jordanian government. Nothing illegal happened."

We inquired: "But wasn't it suspicious that Peru would buy second hand rifles?"

"Look, sir," he said leaning heavily on the sofa, "It never would occur to me to put my own head and the security of Jordan in danger for a million dollars. Jordan is a country that loves peace and would never arm a group of rebels. It's impossible that knowing the true destiny of these arms, I would have placed in danger the integrity of a country that I love and that protects me. For this I stopped the deal. I didn't look for José Luis Aybar. The Peruvian government presented him to me. The documents say it."

We clarified: But the documents are false.

He insisted: "That is Fujimori's problem and a problem for his trusted man Montesinos. I am not in charge of Peru's intelligence." He repeated: "I pains me to say it, but Fujimori has been tricked."

Upon being informed that President Alberto Fujimori fired his advisor Vladimiro Montesinos Torres after a video was broadcast in which he was seen paying a bribe to a congressman, Sarkis Soghanalian said:

"But how is Montesinos, the most powerful man in Perú, more powerful that even Fujimori, going to go?"

Sarkis Soghanalian declared that the organization of Peruvian traffickers paid all his expenses during his stay in Lima in January 1999. And that this visit convinced him that José Luis Aybar and his people were closely connected with the Army and the National Intelligence Service (the SIN).

Surely wounded in his intimate pride, this man that negotiated with the dictators Ferdinand Marcos, Anastasio Somoza, Saddam Hussein and Nicoley Ceaucescu, acknowledged that he was very bothered by this case. However, although he admitted that this was the first time he had done business with Peruvians, he said, "It is not the first time I have done business with a Latin American country."

"Soon I will walk free and many things will come to light," he said upon saying goodbye.


The Official Party doesn't Believe Sarkis' Version

Congressman Ricardo Mercenaro, President of the Constitution Commission, sustained yesterday that he doesn't believe the version of Sarkis Soghanalian, who from his prison cell in the United States revealed that the 10,000 Kalashnikov rifles sold to the FARC were originally sold to the Peruvian government and that during the negotiation he met with Army officials in "El Pentagonito" (The Little Pentagon) and in the SIN.

He also said that when Sarkis says that he was going to have a meeting with President Alberto Fujimori but that it was cancelled, "surely he has been caught and he said that he would have a meeting because this is the technique that people in his situation use."

"These people say that it's at the highest level, that they have a meeting, but just when they are about to have the meeting, the meeting is canceled. Then they believe they had a meeting when they never had it."

But Sarkis says that he had meetings with military leaders in the Pentagonito and in the SIN?

"Well, that's what he says. But this man is an arms trafficker. And it's better not to believe too much from arms traffickers or drug traffickers because normally these are not people whose moral qualities cause us to believe them."

Marcenaro said, however, that although he can not be fully trusted, it is important to conduct the pertinent investigations.

Related Story from La República:

The Role of Washington

It seems the time has come to aks ourselves: What role is the United States playing in the Peruvian crisis? It is known that Ambassador John Hamilton is constantly consulting with the Fujimori government and with the principal opposition leader Alejandro Toledo. The Organization of American States (OAS) is doing the same. It's delegate for the dialogue in Perú, Eduardo Latorre, visted the national palace yesterday and met later with Toledo.

The United States has come to accept the basic points of the transition proposed by Fujimori: Elections in March, change of government on July 28, 2001, and until that date Fujimori stays in power and that some electoral rules will be modified. However, if it is a fact that Washington also accepts the weaknesses of the current electoral commission and some level of impunity in corruption cases, we could be entering into themes that will end up fracturing the democratic opposition. Be very careful, the opposition is more than Toledo and a very active Civil Society is in the middle.

Spurious Opposition in Perú

Toledo Thanks US and other imperial countries while his supporters chant "Out with Brazil! Out with Venezuela!"

Meanwhile, Sarkis Soghanalian, "The Merchant of Death," enters the fray from his Los Angeles prison cell

A Narco News Analysis

The Narco News Bulletin has been aggressively collecting data in English, Spanish and Portuguese to offer a clear-headed analysis of the earthshaking events in Perú. Whereas other international human rights monitoring organizations have rushed to judgement, we held back until we obtained a clearer overview of the facts. The analysis provided even by organizations that we respect has been superficial at best and manipulated by Washington at its worst. And the US press coverage, with few exceptions, has been abysmal.

Although we share the hope of many in Perú and throughout the planet that the announced exit of 12-year president Alberto Fujimori and the call for new elections in Perú can bring an end to the corrupt and authoritarian practices Fujimori-Montesinos regime, we have expressed since June 12th of this year serious reservations about the "opposition" forces led by former World Bank official Alejandro Toledo.

Regional factors hang heavily over events in Perú: the Plan Colombia military intervention (and the US-imposed drug prohibition for which it stands), and the growing movement among South American nations to unite against colonial impositions (voiced articulately by Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ricardo Lagos of Chile in the events surrounding the August 31-September 1 Brasilia Summit).

Toledo, who ran for president against Fujimori but then backed out of the contest with a legitimate complaint about unfairness of the election process, worked for the World Bank before entering politics. He has not been involved in a serious way in the social movements of Perú or its indigenous population. He studied in the United States and is in favor of US-backed neoliberal economic policies, as he explained to Andrés Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald last Spring.

In that interview, made while he vacationed in the Florida Keys, Toledo attacked Venezuela President Hugo Chávez as"authoritarian" without specifying what he meant by that. And yet even monitoring organizations that were skeptical of Chávez when he was elected (largely due to his military history and the attempted overthrow of the Venezuela government in 1992 by his military faction) have now, after time, recognized key facts.

Human Rights Watch, for example, in its annual report for 1999 declared Venezuela as the only country in América where human rights improved, and drastically so. And the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), after its initial concern over Chávez, came around to congratulate the Venezuelan president for postponing an election he was bound to win by a large margin because fair election safeguards were not in place. Chávez pushed through a very healthy democratic election reform and went on to win handily under a transparent election process. Indeed, he was the first Américan head of state -- and that includes US politicians -- to ever put the democratic process above his short-term personal interests.

It may be that these same organizations will, once having recovered from the shock of Fujimori's announcement last week that he will step down, begin to offer an analysis more adequate for a post-Fujimori era. At present, they seem to be in a state of reaction and fear that the Peruvian president will reverse his position and remain. It's fine to be vigilant, but not at the expense of widening the thinking process in order to view Perú's coming post-Fujimori situation.

Washington is very worried about Venezuela's Chávez in particular. The fear of some short-sited US officials is precisely that Chávez is ressurecting the dream of Simón Bolívar, of a united Latin America against colonial invaders. But they can't get to Chávez with the usual pretexts since his country produces oil, not cocaine.

So why did Toledo of Perú take that cheap shot at Chávez of Venezuela? Simply put, to pander to the North American interests. And this is the major weakness of Toledo's platform. Liberty, Justice and Democracy, by definition, are not given to smaller nations by larger ones. They are taken. Toledo -- who admitted to the daily Folha of Sao Paolo in Brazil this week that he has just met (again) with US State Department officials -- has placed his eggs in a very shakey basket: the spurious idea that Washington will save Perú.

His act is wearing a little thin in Perú: Toledo is at 25% approval rating according to a new public opinion poll cited this week by the Washington Post. Compare that to 44% approval for Fujimori, 42% for the opposition mayor of Lima, and Toledo's prospects look to be

Also, as Narco News reported on June 12th, Toledo's own campaign team has been infiltrated at the highest levels by foreign interests:

"A high-level consultant to Toledo and his Perú Posible coalition turned out to be a foreign spy. According to the daily La Republica on June 7th, Toledo campaign "consultant" Roberto Flórez Araoz turned out to be an intelligence agent of the government of Spain, the European regime that is increasingly serving as a bridge for covert US policy in Latin America. Flórez Araoz in fact worked for the Spanish Embassy in Lima."

In sum, Alejandro Toledo brings to the equation a neoliberal capitalist mindset, a slavish obedience to the strategy objectives of Washington, an over-eagerness to please Wall Street and the World Bank for which he worked, has already been duped once by shady alleged espionage types. Is there any question about how someone of this profile will behave regarding US-imposed Plan Colombia if elected?

Toledo's new political problem is that he might not have Fujimori to kick around anymore. So the wheel is in spin in Perú and it is premature to assume that Toledo, although he will try, will be one of the top two candidates for president.

Fujimori's opposition to the US-imposed Plan Colombia -- although small-letter "o" and having more to do with his power struggles with Washington over other matters -- helped to seal his fate. Recall that Colombia only became Cocaine Central after Fujimori in Perú and Banzer in Bolivia stamped out much of the coca crop with brutal repression of campesinos and their organizations. (That repression continues this week in the Chapare region of Bolivia, as we reported earlier this week in our daily press briefing.)

Plan Colombia, as exiled Colombian journo Alfredo Molano pointed out on Narco News, is not intended to eliminate cocaine cultivation, but rather to to decentralize and reroute coca production not only within Colombia's regions, but also throughout the Andes again.

Fujimori may have been playing a turf game with Washington for control of the coming new business opportunities. That would be enough for Washington to turn against the leader they had backed -- human rights violations and repressive atrocities allowed -- for a dozen years.

The parallels between the Fujimori situation and that of former Panamanian General Manuel Noriega are many.

Why would Washington want to depose Fujimori now? What happened in recent weeks in Perú? Suddenly Fujimori is putting US citizen and political prisoner Lori Berenson's release on the table and is beginning to work with Brazil and Venezuela in particular to build the regional bloc that Washington so fears. Fujimori was in the process of ending Perú's isolation as a nation. He was, in fact, showing signs of being less of an embarrassment and repressor and that is precisely when Washington decided that his time was up.

One interesting theory is that Fujimori's stunning annoucement that he will step down and call new elections was made to beat Washington to the punch; a recognition on Fujimori's part that the US was going to end his tenure by hook or by crook and so he simply pre-empted them.

In fact, his bowing out may well be his final revenge on the puppet-string pullers. Fujimori is a very sly leader who stayed in power for 12 years – the longest running elected president in América (although we use the term "elected" reluctantly). By getting out now, he leaves Washington scrambling to come up with a new plan ahead of its predetermined schedule.

Meanwhile, Toledo held a rally of his supporters this week in which he thanked the United States and other countries for opposing the Fujimori regime. His supporters got a little carried away shouting "Out with Brazil! Out with Venezuela!" It's as messy and confused as it sounds, and in direct opposition to América's only hope of a regional alliance.

The videotape that wrought the beginning of the end for the Fujimori regime showed his enforcer, Vladimiro Montesinos -- known among CIA operatives who backed him all these years, according to the Washington Post, as "The Doctor" -- bribing an opposition politician. The video was made public by opposition congressman Fernando Olivera, a chairman of Toledo's Perú Posible Party.

There are 2,100 such clandestine tapes that were made by Montesinos and company, and Olivera says he has more of them, but is holding on to those tapes because they would supposedly create "chaos."

The question is, chaos for whom?

Since the tape that was released and broadcast on national TV showed the bribing of an opposition politician, might it be that others of the videotapes show the same kind of activity and that Olivera would gain an incredible power over other individuals who accepted bribes by not releasing the tape? If that's the case, Olivera would own those politicians.

This is significant because there are signs that Olivera himself might seek the presidency. He is now, depending on which public opinion poll consulted, at least as popular or moreso than Toledo and is as well known. But if he is already using Fujimori-Montesinos blackmail tactics with their own videotapes, what change would he or his party bring to Perú other than a more slavish obedience to Washington?

If there were any doubt that Washington -- again, it coddled Fujimori through his most brutal years at the helm -- now wants to depose him, that doubt was dispelled this week with the entrance into Perú's politique by the notorious arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, "The Merchant of Death," as he is known in many languages. "The Merchant" is suddenly a player in the Perú situation.

Those with long memories will remember that in 1992 Soghanalian -- Turkish born, Algierian descent, US citizen with Lebanese base of operations -- was condemned to 6-and-a-half years in US prison for selling more than 100 Bell helicopters to Iraq, all souped up to turn them into war machines.

But when the Gulf War fury settled and Clinton was in office, The Merchant of Death flew out of his prison cell after less than two years. US prosecutors have admited that "The Merchant" went free in a trade for information. Saddam Hussein then put a death warrant on Soghalian's head. It's clear he switched sides (a common mercenary trait) and has played
a role since then with US intelligence. Soghalian has been for six years a kind of informant run amok, allowed to continue his contraband in weapons in exchange for information (selectively) supplied to US officials.

A few months ago, before the Fujimori situation heated up publicly, US officials rounded up Soghanalian again (this time on money laundering charges) and put him in a prison cell in Los Angeles.

Also in recent weeks, information about the Russia-to-Jordan-to-Peru-to-the-FARC arms pipeline hit the press and according to many accounts this led to the current crisis in Perú. The Death Merchant's fingerprints are all over this one. He even appears in photographs of the arms being shipped from Jordan. It may well be that in the informant-captor game of info trading, it was "The Merchant of Death" who connected the dots in the way that best serves his imminent release; telling the bosses what they want to hear.

Although the US strongly controls press access to volatile international federal prisoners, they made an exception in recent days allowing a reporter from the opposition newspaper, La República, in Lima, Perú, to hold a lengthy interview with Soghanalian from prison in Los Angeles, California. The newspaper reports that US officials waived corrections policies to allow the interview. And suddenly Soghanalian is joining the pile-on of Fujimori.

This scenario could only be happening if US officials were orchestrating the show.

This leaves the previously mentioned human rights groups as unwitting allies in the Washington-Langley strategy. (It cannot be forgotten that many of the same organizations now privately admit that they were fooled by the Clinton Administration on the "human rights clause" of Plan Colombia.)

What US officials did not plan on was that Fujimori would pre-empt his own forced downfall and announce his exit prematurely. The US-backed Toledo is thus unable to consolidate the opposition behind him during this crisis. And this opens the game up a bit wider, which can only be positive for a country -- indeed, a hemisphere -- struggling to emerge as a democracy.

The factor that remains cloaked the narco connection. Some party or parties are throwing a lot of cash around Perú: how else do videotapes fly from their vaults and get played on national TV? The CIA of course is a prime suspect in all of this but it cannot be ruled out that one faction or another among narco-traffickers are the big-spenders here and even Langley is playing catch-up.

With Plan Colombia now pushing the coca crop back into Perú, the race is on by the factions that wish to control its production and trafficking. Billions of dollars are at stake. And once again we have a clear example of how the US-imposed drug prohibition and the black market that it creates destabilizes the democratic process, indeed, makes democracy impossible.

Hope for change from any quarter that does not confront and oppose drug prohibition is false hope. It is "Spurious Opposition," which the Belgian author Raul Vaneigem defined as opposition that ends up strengthening the very forces it seeks to oppose.

September 22, 2000

War Crimes Tribunal Opens Today in Chicago

Colombian Massacre Survivors to Testify

Evidence to Implicate US Aid and Equipment

From the Indy Media Center, Los Angeles

Info from US government source to prove Colombian military committed massacre

by Chris Geovanis, HammerHard MediaWorks/Chicago

Four Colombian survivors of the 1998 Santo Domingo massacre will
testify before a formal Tribunal of Opinion this weekend about the
Colombian military's responsibility for the incident. Evidence will
include documentation from a highly placed U.S. government source
showing that at least one U.S. donated helicopter was used in the

Chicago, IL -- Four survivors of a 1998 massacre of Colombian
villagers in the town of Santo Domingo arrived in Chicago this week
to make final preparations to testify at a Sept. 22-23 "Tribunal of
Opinion" being convened to investigate the incident. The Tribunal has
been organized by Northwestern University's Center for International
Human Rights, Amnesty International and other U.S., Colombian and
international organizations, at the request Colombian groups who
charge that the military has consistently impeded an open
investigation into the massacre.

Counsel for the victims report that witnesses will testify that the
Colombian military's 'Aerial Combat Command Unit #2,' bombed their
village, and will introduce 'incontrovertible evidence' from a highly
placed U.S. government source that U.S. military aid and equipment
was used by that unit in the operation. The Colombian military --
which has refused to open a formal investigation into the massacre --
has repeatedly denied that allegation, asserting instead that the
massacre was caused by the explosion of a guerilla bomb. Independent
F.B.I. analysis of forensic evidence has shown that bomb fragments
can be linked to munitions known to be carried by at least one
Colombian Air Force helicopter flown at the scene of the massacre.

Approximately 19 people, including seven children, were killed in the
incident, and another 25 were injured. Villagers also allege that the
Colombian military sacked the village in the wake of the bombing.

Tribunal jurists will include former IL Supreme Court Justice Seymour
Simon; Cook County Public Defender Rita Fry; Bernardine Dohrn of
Northwestern University's Children and Family Justice Center; and two
former State Senators, Jesus Garcia and Dawn Clark Netsch. The
Tribunal has assigned lawyers to present evidence and argument
defending the Colombian military's version of events.

Human rights activists have argued that the Santo Domingo massacre
fits a sweeping pattern of human rights violations by the Colombian
military and its paramilitary affiliates that raises grave concerns
about U.S. military aid to the Colombian government.

The Chicago Tribunal is one of many that are being organized in
countries including Italy and Spain as part of the International
Campaign Against Impunity: Colombia Demands Justice, which was
initiated by a coalition of hundreds of Colombian popular
organizations and human rights groups.

September 22-23: Tribunal of Opinion
10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 9/22; 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 9/23
Northwestern University Law School, 357 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

For more information, contact Prof. Douglass Cassel at 312-503-2224.

Northwestern University School of Law
357 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611-3069, U.S.A.
Phone: 312-503-2224; Fax: 312-503-5950
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Protesters Storm Karenna Gore Speech over Colombia Policy

"I will remember this as long as I live," says the Vice President's Daughter

September 21, 2000

From the University of Missouri Show Me News

Karenna Gore Schiff, the 27-year-old daughter of the Democratic presidential nominee, came to campus to talk about energizing young voters and to brag on her father. But when Schiff began to speak shortly after noon, environmental activists disrupted her remarks with shouts and chants, blasting Gore for ties to an oil company that they said plans to remove an indigenous tribe from a Colombia forest.

Schiff tried to continue speaking after the initial round of shouting died down, but she was continually interrupted during her 10-minute speech as the protesters and about 250 Democratic supporters elbowed for position, jostling aside each other's signs and posters.

While Gore touts himself as a defender of the environment, the protesters accused him of failing to address Occidental Petroleum's plan to displace the U'Wa tribe of Colombia to drill for oil. The activists handed out pamphlets detailing their allegations, held signs with slogans like "Indigenous Culture Before Corporate Culture" and at one point chanted "Human rights!"...

US Troops Head for Guatemala

translated from El Universal, Mexico City
Guatemala, Guatemala September 21, 2000

...The North American soldiers, whose number cannot exceed 99, will conduct joint excersizes to train Guatemalan security forces and combat drug trafficking. The New Nation Alliance, the left-wing bloc in Congress, was the only parliamentary group that opposed the entrance of the North Americans. The group's leader, Nineth Montenegro, said that their presence never is aimed at combatting drug trafficking. Last march an equal number of US soldiers were in the country for a month to conduct the anti-drug "Maya-Jaguar" plan. (AP)

Necklace Bombshell

Colombian Government Knew that the FARC Did Not Plant the "Necklace Bomb" When Pastrana and Serrano Publicly Accused Them

Excerpt from a new book, "The Secrets of General Serrano," published this week in Colombia and excerpted in the daily El Tiempo, translated by Narco News:

"There also appears the history about the "pressures" that he (Serrano) received to state that the necklace-bomb that killed a farmer woman from Boyaca had been the work of the FARC when the general knew that, in reality, it was not done by the guerrilla.

"The first ones to be surprised by the accusations of the general were his own most trusted advisors, who had already told him that there was no evidence that the guerrilla had done it and that all the evidence pointed to common criminals.

"They were also surprised by the speech of Serrano, who said the bomb was very sophisticated and only could be made by terrorists on the level of the ETA of Spain or the IRA of Ireland. "The guerrillas of the FARC are the only Colombians capable to commit an atrocity like that which was done to the farmer woman from Chiguinquirá… The FARC copied bomb cylinders from the IRA and used terrorist explosives methods typical of the ETA, which they also copied. There is no doubt that in Colombia there are already foreign advisors helping the FARC," Seranno said.

September 21 Press Briefing on the Closing of the Geopolitical Drug Observatory

Archive of Press Briefings September 19-20

Archive of Press Briefings September 8-18

Archive of Press Briefings September 1-7

Archive of Press Briefings from August 24-30

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