Thursday, November 6, 2008
U.S. finally takes action against rogue Colombia army units
Reports from Bogota offers at least one explanation of why the anti-U.S. rhetoric of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Boliva's Evo Morales seem to resonate in their South American countries. The U.S. government announced today that it had suspended military aid to some army units in Colombia, a staunch U.S. ally, for their roles in the killings of innocent civilians, according to the Cable News Network (CNN). Some of the units had allegedly been involved in "illegal executions" of civilians, CNN said, citing an unnamed U.S. official. The suspension followed Tuesday's resignation of Gen. Mario Montoya, who had recently been feted for the rescue of three long-held hostages, and the Oct. 29 firings of 27 army officers and senior non-commissioned officers for involvement in earlier killings. In a statement last week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called the killings "systematic and widespread" and called on Colombian authorities to investigate and prosecute "the perpetrators," CNN said. Fifteen of the 27 dismissed officers had received "some form of individual training" in the United States, the U.S. official said. Under U.S. law, the United States reviews the conduct of Colombian army units before they can receive any part of the $5 billion in military aid it has provided to Colombia since 2000. There were 780 investigations of killings by the military started by Colombia's attorney general between 2003 and 2007, CNN said.