Colombia Peace Deal: FARC Announces Cease-Fire And Downs Weapons

Members of the 51st Front of the FARC patrol in the remote mountains of Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Members of the 51st Front of the FARC patrol in the remote mountains of Colombia. Credit: Reuters

ITV News‎

One of the world’s longest-running conflicts is set to come to an end as the commander of Colombia’s rebel movement has said its fighters will permanently cease hostilities with the government.

The truce will begin with the first minute of Monday, as a result of their peace deal after 52 years of conflict.

Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement in Havana, where the two sides negotiated for four years to come to an agreement.

“Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” said Londono, who also known as Timoshenko. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.”

The conflict has killed an estimated 260,000 people and displaced millions.

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stand in line to get food at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stand in line to get food at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC beginning Monday.

Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum 2 October to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than 5 million people from their homes

After the agreement is signed, FARC guerrillas are supposed to begin handing their weapons over to United Nations-sponsored monitors.

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-08-28/farc-downs-weapons-and-sets-permanent-cease-fire-under-colombia-peace-deal/

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Colombian Killings Of Human Rights Defenders Carried Out By Paramilitary Groups: Report

Daniel Abril Fuentes, a human-rights and environmental activist in Colombia’s department of Casanare, was killed last November. Photo courtesy of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado.

Daniel Abril Fuentes, a human-rights and environmental activist in Colombia’s department of Casanare, was killed last November. Photo courtesy of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado.

By Red Power Media, Staff | July 17, 2016

534 activists were assassinated across Colombia between 2011 and 2015, around 17 percent of them indigenous-rights or environmental activists.

  • While many assassinations remain unsolved due to corruption or the state’s inability to carry out effective investigations, human-rights watchdogs say the majority is orchestrated by paramilitary groups.

In the oil-rich department of Casanare in eastern Colombia, Daniel Abril Fuentes was known as a peasant farmer leader, defender of human rights, and constant critic of the oil interests he saw as a threat to his community and environment. Now, eight months after being shot dead, Trinidad, Abril’s name appears next to more than 500 others in a briefing documenting the assassinations of political activists in Colombia.

Published in April by the NGO Justice for Colombia (JFC), the briefing lists 534 political activists who were assassinated across the country between 2011 and 2015. Of these, 83 were indigenous-rights activists and 10 were environmental activists — a total of more than 17 percent. On average two activists were killed per week over the five year period.

“These are horrifying figures, and seeing the names written out it makes it more real. But this overall picture of political activists being killed [in Colombia] on a regular basis, unfortunately, isn’t a surprise to us, because it’s what we hear about every week,” Hasan Dodwell, JFC’s Campaigns Officer, told Mongabay.

However, contrary to the country’s declining homicide rate, data shows that murders of activists are actually increasing and are largely carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups.

534 political activists murdered in five years in Colombia.

534 political activists murdered in five years in Colombia.

The JFC briefing published by five different Colombian organizations, the human-rights monitor Programa Somos Defensores among them, shows Colombian activists are often targeted for their work against the expansion of natural-resource exploitation projects.

41 percent of activist assassinations in Latin America are linked to the defense of the environment, land, or indigenous rights.

Peasant activists are often targeted for defending their right to the land.

Attacks for economic interests

The JFC briefing documents assassinations in 26 of Colombia’s 32 departments. Of these, Antioquia in the northwest had the highest number of activists killed, followed by Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño in the west, and then Cordoba in the northwest.

According to Carlos Guevara, communications coordinator for Programa Somos Defensores, while these have been key zones, the high number of attacks on activists is largely driven by economic interests.

These include the cultivation of illicit crops and illegal gold mining — an industry the government regards as rivaling the drug trade in terms of revenue and the threat it poses.

A five decades-long internal conflict between the state and leftist guerrillas has normalized violence in these areas and is being used as an excuse or platform for the murders of political activists.

Peace talks in process since 2012, might be able to bring an end to the armed conflict but much more needs to be done to end to the political violence.

“Civilian rights violations directly derived from the armed conflict have decreased drastically,” Guevara said. “But what we see now is that the violence is becoming a phenomenon that is more localized and focused. It is now being more effectively directed at community leaders.”

Adelina Gómez Gaviria, an anti-mining activist in the Colombian department of Cauca, was killed in 2013. Photo courtesy of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado.

Adelina Gómez Gaviria, an anti-mining activist in the Colombian department of Cauca, was killed in 2013. Photo courtesy of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado.

Much like Daniel Abril in Casanare, Adelina Gómez Gaviria was reportedly gunned down for her stance against illegal mining in the western department of Cauca. At 36, Gaviria was known as a charismatic community leader with a local land-rights group who had organized a Mining and Environmental Forum that was attended by more than 1,200 local peasant farmers and indigenous people. After receiving death threats by phone warning her to stop her activist work, Gaviria was shot dead and her 13-year-old son wounded in 2013.

Paramilitary groups biggest threat to activists

While many assassinations remain unsolved due to corruption or the state’s inability to carry out effective investigations, Guevara asserted that the majority is orchestrated by paramilitary groups.

Although these groups officially laid down their arms under an agreement with the government in 2006, many local rights groups highlight their ongoing activity. However, the government does not officially recognize their existence. Instead it has relabeled them as BaCrim (for bandas criminales; “criminal groups” in English) so as not to undermine the 2006 demobilization process.

“Paramilitary groups, neo-paramilitary groups, BaCrim, or whatever you want to call them, are the biggest threat to activists. In our [recent] report we identify that they are responsible for 63 percent of attacks this year alone. Last year they also had a high percentage; they almost always have the highest percentage,” said Guevara.

Yet the state’s reluctance to recognize the existence of these groups makes it difficult to focus attention on them and protect activists, he added.

“There are far right sectors in the country that are hiding under the facade of BaCrim, and they have been doing so for years, such as the Aguilas Negras,” he said, referring to a paramilitary group active in drug trafficking.“

The Aguilas Negras emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary groups in 2006 | Photo: Radio Macondo

The Aguilas Negras emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary groups in 2006 | Photo: Radio Macondo

According to Guevara, in the last five years more than 800 activists have been threatened.

The quarterly report Guevara mentioned analyzed 113 reported aggressions against human rights defenders in Colombia between January and March of this year. It documents a total of 19 activists assassinated during that period, two of them environmental activists.

Unavoidable discrepancies

The JFC briefing inadvertently highlighted another major issue in Colombia: state negligence and abandonment. This is arguably most apparent in the Caribbean department of La Guajira, a region known for corrupt institutions and as a haven for criminal activities, including drug trafficking, the contraband gasoline trade, and extortion.

Despite this reality, the JFC briefing identified only one activist death in La Guajira since 2011, a figure that both local rights organizations and JFC admit is “unrealistic.”

“La Guajira is one of those departments submerged in darkness…the social fabric and organizations there are very weak, because the forms of violence that dominate ensure that silence governs. We are absolutely sure that that number is completely unrealistic,” said Guevara.

The problem, no organization is able to maintain a constant presence in the region due to ongoing threats and the immense level of fear felt by the population means that few reports of attacks or assassinations can be fully confirmed.

Dodwell from JFC said that the briefing’s assassination figures are “at least” numbers highlighting areas that require increased monitoring to obtain realistic figures.

Colombian State increasing efforts

Despite the high assassination figures, the Colombian state has made increasing efforts in recent years to ensure the safety of activists throughout the country. The National Protection Unit (UNP) within the Ministry of Interior is tasked with protecting threatened individuals, while the state’s human rights agency, the Ombudsman’s Office, continuously highlights human rights violations. Additionally, mechanisms such as the Ombudsman’s Office Early Warning System (SAT) have been important in the contextual analysis and prevention of many attacks.

Although SAT has become one of the best resources for activists around the country, Javier Orlando Tamayo, director of the complaints processing and monitoring department of the Ombudsman’s Office, agreed that more must be done to protect activists. But he asserted that the government is addressing the issue.

“In the case of Marcha Patriotica, the government has made the effort. It has visited the areas, conducted interviews, carried out the investigations, and given orders and directions to overcome these issues,” he said, referring to ongoing investigations into assassinations of members of the left-leaning Marcha Patriotica political party. The party reports that 113 of its members have been assassinated since 2012.

Tamayo said he could not comment on the JFC briefing as the numbers were “not official.” However, he said the Ombudsman’s Office is working closely with other state agencies to verify all reported assassinations and ensure the necessary preventative and judicial steps are taken.

https://vimeo.com/170283380

Video: Indigenous Rights and Neo-Paramilitary Control. In this short documentary; Four different Indigenous communities tell their tales of violence, displacement, return and resistance, while shinning a light on the human rights atrocities that continue in Colombia.

A version of this article originally appeared in the July 15, 2016, issue of Mongabay under the title “Heavy toll for green and indigenous activists among Colombian killings” published by Rebecca Kessler.

Uprooted By War, Colombian Indigenous People Doubt Peace

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia's messy, many-sided war (AFP Photo/Guillermo Legaria)

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia’s messy, many-sided war (AFP Photo/Guillermo Legaria)

AFP 

Bogota (AFP) – When Delfina Wazorna thinks back on the home she left behind, she remembers machine guns, armed men and death threats.

It makes the Embera indigenous woman skeptical of the peace deal that Colombia’s government and its main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have vowed to sign in the first three months of the new year.

“There will never be peace,” said Wazorna, 54, who fled her ancestral lands eight years ago with her family after they found their house surrounded with explosives.

They drifted from city to city before finally landing at a shelter in the capital Bogota set up to accommodate members of her indigenous community uprooted by the half-century conflict.

“It’s all lies. These people don’t forgive. The guerrillas told me, ‘You can hide for 30 years, but if you come back you’ll die,'” a traditional healer named Ariel told AFP at the same shelter.

Ariel, who declined to give his last name, also fled in 2004 after someone put a machete into the wall of his house with a death threat hanging from the blade.

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia’s messy, many-sided war.

The conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has drawn in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers since the Marxist FARC was launched in 1964.

The Embera say they have been terrorized by the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN), a rival rebel movement that has yet to join the peace process, and other armed groups.

More than 1,000 Embera have fled to Bogota over the years, where they get by however they can — often by begging.

Many try to return after a period of urban exile. But their homecoming is complicated by lingering violence and a lack of infrastructure.

“There are still risks in Embera territory,” said Julia Madariaga, who runs the ethnic affairs unit at the government agency set up to help victims of the conflict.

– From jungle to street –

Since the shelter in Bogota was created in 2011, it has hosted 1,098 Embera. Of those, just 87 remain today.

But not all have managed to return home. Authorities say there are currently 370 Embera holed up in cheap hotels in the capital, paying $2 to $7 a night.

“I could say I’m going home, but where?” said Norbey Giraldo, 23, who tried to go back to Risaralda with a group of 112 families four years ago, but ended up back in Bogota.

The influx was too large for the indigenous reservation, and the government resettled some of the families elsewhere.

Giraldo, who first arrived in Bogota as a boy about 12 years ago and left as a married man with three kids, said he was taken to a plot of land with no house whose previous owner had left after his two children were killed.

“We received threats by armed men from I don’t know which group. They told us, ‘Get out of here. This isn’t your land,'” Giraldo said.

“They gave us until December 15 to leave.”

He and his family didn’t wait around until then.

“The homecomings have been awful,” said Alberto Wazorna, an Embera who sits on Colombia’s National Indigenous Organization. He said there was not enough health, education and housing infrastructure in place for returnees.

Unable to go home because of lingering guerrilla activity, Lisandro Nacavera, a 50-year-old Embera who fled 16 years ago, is working on setting up a new reservation on private land.

He said it saddens him to see the way his people live in the city.

“They’ve gotten used to begging instead of farming their land,” he said.

“An Embera without land isn’t an Embera.”

http://news.yahoo.com/uprooted-war-colombian-indigenous-people-doubt-peace-034711757.html


Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

Bundy’s Militia Isn’t Defending Liberty, They’re Occupying Sacred Native American Land

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By 

Irony lost.

The armed right-wing insurrectionists who have taken over a federal building in Oregon are claiming to protest “tyranny” by the federal government in how the Bureau of Land Management treats ranchers on federal property. This particular group of armed white men seizing land and claiming “oppression” is clearly lacking in knowledge of American history, and what actually defines “tyranny.”

As Indian Country Today Media Network previously reported, the land the occupiers are claiming as “theirs” is actually land that the federal government previously stole from the Northern Paiute tribe. The Paiutes used to own 1.5 million acres of land, but have now been relegated to a reservation amounting to just 750 acres in Burns, Oregon, where the Bundy militia is currently engaged in an armed standoff.

“President U.S. Grant established the Maiheur Indian Reservation for the Northern Paiute in 1872. It is no coincidence that the historical reservation shares a name with the Maiheur National Wildlife Refuge, site of the current armed standoff.”

indianlandloss

The above map shows the progression of how much land Native Americans had taken from them by armed white men from the beginning of colonization to the present day.

READ FULL STORY

Also See: Response to Oregon Militia Standoff Reveals Stark Double Standards


Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For Peace, Colombia Must Return Stolen Land, Respect Rights: Amnesty

FARC Guerrillas

FARC Rebels

By Anastasia Moloney | Reuters

BOGOTA – The Colombian government must ensure indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities uprooted by warring factions can return home and have a greater say in how their lands are developed, rights group Amnesty International said.

Over five decades of conflict, more than six million Colombians have been forced off their land by fighting among Marxist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and government troops, government figures show.

The issue of how to return stolen and abandoned land to its rightful owners is a key talking point at peace talks in Cuba between the government and the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Displaced communities wanting to return also face the problem of exploitation by mining companies, according to a report published by Amnesty on Wednesday.

“Any peace deal will be meaningless unless the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to return to their lands and decide how they are used are prioritized above companies’ desire to exploit those lands for their own profit,” said Erika Guevara, Amnesty’s Americas director, in a statement.

At least eight million hectares of land – some 14 percent of Colombian territory – have been abandoned or illegally acquired through fraud, violence or extortion, the report said.

Most of those affected are farming, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities who earn their living from their land and whose land is rich in resources.

Displaced people who owned their land are eligible to claim it back under a historic land restitution law passed in 2011.

The law, a crucial reform of the government of Juan Manuel Santos, aims to return millions of hectares of stolen land to its rightful owners and to enable displaced people to return home and claim reparations.

The law is a “significant step forward,” but land return is plagued by problems ranging from bureaucracy to intimidation, including death threats against claimants, Amnesty said.

“Nearly four years since the process began … only a relatively small proportion of such lands have been returned to their rightful occupants,” the report said.

Ricardo Sabogal, who heads the government entity charged with overseeing land restitution, said the government has handed back 173,000 hectares of land benefiting about 20,000 Colombians.

“It’s not easy to push ahead with a process of land restitution in the middle of a conflict,” Sabogal told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“That’s why peace is so important, so that families can go back quickly and safely to their lands.”

He said ensuring displaced people return to their lands is also made difficult because of landmines, mostly planted by FARC rebels, littering parts of the countryside.

Since 2000, successive governments have granted licenses to local and international mining and other companies looking to tap into Colombia’s mineral and oil resources, the report said.

The economy is driven by commodity exports, and the country is Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer.

By law, companies planning projects must first consult communities living on or using the land they want to exploit.

Amnesty said it had written to several companies with mining projects on lands where indigenous communities live.

In response mining company AngloGold Ashanti, which operates gold mines in western Choco province, told Amnesty it was committed to the “lawful consent of indigenous communities” for projects on lands traditionally owned or used by ethnic groups “and are likely to have a significant impact on these groups.”

But Amnesty said in general licenses have often been granted to companies which have not consulted communities nor obtained their free and informed consent.

“Unless the authorities can ensure that these rights are effectively respected as a matter of urgency … it risks leaving one of the principal causes of the armed conflict unresolved. This could have serious repercussions for the long-term viability of any eventual peace agreement,” the report said. (Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://www.trust.org)

http://news.yahoo.com/peace-colombia-must-return-stolen-land-respect-rights-053824774.html

A Warrior, A Soldier And A Photographer — Remembering The Oka Crisis

Pte. Patrick Cloutier of the Royal 22e Régiment faces Ojibwa warrior Brad Larocque in this now famous photo taken during the Oka Crisis on Sept. 1, 1990. Shaney Komulainen, on assignment for The Canadian Press, recalls she was the only photographer who shot the scene without a flash. "That's what made the picture," she says.

Pte. Patrick Cloutier of the Royal 22e Régiment faces Ojibwa warrior Brad Larocque in this now famous photo taken during the Oka Crisis on Sept. 1, 1990. Shaney Komulainen, on assignment for The Canadian Press, recalls she was the only photographer who shot the scene without a flash. “That’s what made the picture,” she says.

“Are you nervous perhaps? Do you think? Are you nervous? You should be.”

The words are uttered sotto voce. They crawl across the skin, like menacing earwigs, issued threats of bullet hitting bone.

The face of the Ojibwa warrior moves in close — sunglasses, bandana, anonymity. The youthful private — field helmet, bare face — shifts. Looks over the shoulder of the warrior, to the left, to the right. Then locks: nose to nose; toe to toe. A straight-ahead, dead-eye stare.

The shutter clicks. An inextinguishable instant.

Twenty-five years ago Shaney Komulainen was working freelance for The Canadian Press, covering the Oka Crisis. Young, eager, a little bit goofy, the 27-year-old photojournalist can be seen fleetingly in video clips as the army advanced on the Kanesatake barricades toward the ancestral Mohawk lands targeted for golf course expansion.

On Sept. 1, 1990, Komulainen wasn’t supposed to be in the area known as the Pines. She had been assigned to the South Shore where the Mohawks had blockaded access to the Mercier Bridge. It was day 52 of a long, hot summer siege when she heard the news on the radio that the army was on the move and her first thought was “Oh, s—. Here I am (away from the action), and something’s finally happening at Oka.”

So she called up Bill Grimshaw, her boss at CP. Or she thinks she did. She believes Grimshaw said, “Get up there. Go.”

Maybe he did. Memory does what it does.

“The thing with Oka is, it had been percolating a long time,” says Grimshaw, now retired from CP. “Every once in a while you’d get a flare-up. But the South Shore — there was a lot of stuff going on. It was psycho every night.”

Grimshaw’s “best guy” was Tom Hanson. It was Hanson who took the renowned shot of Richard Livingston Nicholas, the masked, rifle-wielding warrior standing astride an upturned Sûreté du Québec van on the first day of the crisis. Six weeks later, Grimshaw was thinking any front-page photo was likely going to come from the South Shore.

Richard Nicholas raises rifle from atop an overturned police cruiser at Oka roadblock in Quebec on July 1990. Photo by Tom Hanson / The Canadian Press.

Komulainen doesn’t recall how long it took her to drive to Oka. She does remember walking between houses, through backyards and past barking dogs. “I guess they thought I was a resident,” she says of the police patrols that paid her no mind. She had her camera gear stuffed under her jacket, film in a waist pouch. “I got in there when the army was coming up the road and they were just talking to the Mohawks and everything was calm. Tense but calm … I was exhilarated to be up there.”

Perhaps she couldn’t appreciate the heavy anxiety that infused the scene prior to her arrival. “I knew the guns were loaded and s— like that. I just kept telling myself, this can’t happen. This isn’t going to happen in Canada.”

Komulainen was still learning. She had previously been challenged by Grimshaw, who had a reputation for being gruff and exacting, to shoot in natural light. “I hate flash,” Grimshaw says today. “It’s overused. It wipes out the ambience. It wipes out everything.”

The sun was getting low. Komulainen was not shooting with a flash. It sounds as though, as much as she was trying to please her boss, she was taking a risk. It was risky — but she didn’t have a choice. She had left her flash in the car, a situation, she says now, that “would have been the death of me when it got dark.”

She estimates there were as many as two dozen members of the media in the vicinity milling about, hoping to pull off that singular image.

There were a number of face-to-face confrontations between soldiers and masked Mohawk warriors — one was captured by Star photographer Peter Power and ran on the front page of this paper. But it was one private in particular who caught Komulainen’s eye. “It just struck me that his face was so young. He was military, but he was so young.”

His name was Patrick Cloutier, a private with the Royal 22e Régiment. He was 19 years of age.

Piecing together video clips, it’s clear that at least three warriors approached Cloutier in face-to-face confrontations. In one of these, the voice of a warrior initially misidentified in print as “Lasagna” — Ronald Cross, who had gained a high profile in the dispute — can barely be discerned. “Are you nervous?” “Not scared, though, are you?” The word “bullet” stands out in one clip, choppily followed by “crawls up your leg bone.”

Cloutier is stoic. Komulainen wondered if the French-speaking Van Doo fully understood what was being said to him. She remembers the warrior explaining to the private what it feels like when a bullet enters a man’s body, how it moves around.

The warrior was not Lasagna. “I knew it was Freddy Krueger,” she says of the Ojibwa who had been given the slasher movie nickname. His real name was Brad Larocque, a college student from Saskatchewan who had been drawn to the cause earlier that summer. “We knew him as a soft-spoken warrior,” Komulainen says.

She thinks she shot at least 20 frames of the pair, perhaps 25. She had four or five rolls of film, which she passed off to someone headed down the hill. Ian Barrett was there for Reuters, as he had been throughout the dispute. He remembers speeding back to Montreal with Reuters film at the same time that Bill Grimshaw was speeding back to CP with Komulainen’s film, and Tom Hanson’s too. “There were no traffic cops on the highways around Montreal that summer,” Barrett remembers. “You could speed with impunity. So we had this hot film of the army moving in the days when you’d have to process the film and select a couple of pictures and transmit those.”

“We did a lot of fast runs to Oka,” says Grimshaw. On Sept. 1, “I knew it was going to be in demand whatever I had.”

Grimshaw processed Komulainen’s film. Developed, dried, edited, printed, captioned, transmitted — choosing a single print which in the rush to deadline he determined was the superior shot. It takes a great editor, Ian Barrett says, to make a great call.

Why does the picture still resonate today? “Some people look at that photo and say the good guy is the soldier,” says Komulainen. “Some people look at the photo and say the good guy is the warrior. I showed the picture to a bunch of friends and they said nobody’s the good guy.”

This one point is not disputed: “I was the only one who shot it without a flash. That’s what made the picture.”

Rob Galbraith, who spent the summer at Oka shooting a lot for Reuters, places the picture in the top five Canadian photos taken. Ever. “It’s the symbolism of it,” he says. “This is the difference between a newswire photographer and a newspaper photographer. A news wire photographer tries to photograph an image that captivates and you don’t have to write a word for it, whereas a newspaper photographer will normally take photos that need a caption.”

Is that it? Bill Grimshaw presents a different view via email: “Shaney’s was a great photo for the day — but it really was theatre and says nothing about anything.”

There are some unhappy endings in the tale. Tom Hanson and the Mohawk warrior he famously captured in July 1990 died on the same day in 2009 — Hanson after playing a hockey game, Nicholas in a car crash.

A Mohawk warrior sits in a golf cart watching army tanks approach on Sept. 1. Photo by Tom Hanson / The Canadian Press.

Pte. Cloutier was promoted to master corporal, then demoted in 1992, serving a jail term in Edmonton for cocaine use. He served in Bosnia, but was later discharged from the Canadian Forces after leaving the scene of an accident and causing bodily harm while under the influence of alcohol. He later appeared in a porn film, telling Maclean’s magazine he found it “an interesting personal experience.”

Cloutier now works for the Canadian Coast Guard. After initially agreeing to speak with the Star, he chose not to respond.

Shaney Komulainen was in a devastating, career-ending car crash, on assignment for Saturday Night. She shoots little these days. She was also charged with threatening and possession of a weapon — wielding a machete at Oka. CP paid her legal fees; otherwise, she says, she would have been sunk. She was cleared of all charges.

Twenty-five years ago, she says Bill Grimshaw gave her the biggest compliment she ever received from him: “Nice picture, Shaney. Not perfect. Nice.”

Toronto Star, Published on Aug 22 2015

[SOURCE]

ELN Attack On Oil Pipeline Bad Sign For Potential Peace Negotiations

Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in February, 2000. (AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in February, 2000. (AFP/Getty Images)

by   Blouin News 

On Sunday, June 29, the National Liberation Army (ELN), a Colombian insurgent movement, attacked the country’s Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline. While there were no fatalities from the attack, 13 individuals were reported injured.

Apart from temporarily halting oil production, the attack also dampened the country’s mood following the recent re-election of President Juan Manuel Santos. A cornerstone of the president’s electoral campaign was a pledge to achieve a lasting peace with Colombia’s two insurgent movements, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the aforementioned ELN. However, the attacks on Caño Limón have caused Colombian citizens and analysts in general to question whether the president’s strategies will be successful.

According to reports, on that Sunday afternoon, insurgent fighters threw an explosive at the camp where workers congregate, not at the pipeline itself. The commander of the Colombian Army, General Jaime Lasprilla, provided more information about the incident via social media: a June 30 tweet explains that the ELN threw a “cylinder bomb” at the workers while they were taking part in mass. Due to the relative high number of injured workers the Colombian Minister of Mining and Energy Amilkar Acosta had a gloomy assessment of the situation, stating that the incident “could have been a massacre.”

The Caño Limón pipeline is 780 kilometers long, starting in the Arauca department and ending in the Coveñas port in Colombia’s Caribbean coast, making it a frequent target of Colombian guerrillas. The late June attack occurred in Arauca, close to Colombia’s eastern border with Venezuela, but previously the ELN also attacked the pipeline in early May (in Boyacá department). Each time the pipeline is attacked, Colombian authorities must stop the flow of oil and inspect the pipeline. If an oil spill occurs, the local environment would be contaminated, and human life could be affected. Following the aforementioned early May attack, for instance, two Colombian communities, Agualinda and Cubará, were forbidden from drinking water for fear that an oil leak had contaminated local rivers.

The Caño Limón pipeline is a vital part of the Colombian economy. The oil pipeline transports up to 70 thousand barrels of crude oil daily. ECOPETROL, a Colombian state-owned oil company, and Occidental Petroleum Corporation, a Texas corporation, control the pipeline. Occidental’s website explains that “more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been produced at Caño Limón since Occidental discovered the field in 1983.” According to ECOPETROL’s website, the Colombian company controls 60% of the oil produced while 40% is owned by Occidental.

The ELN’s attack on the Caño Limón pipeline comes at an awkward moment. In early June, prior to the second round of presidential elections, President Santos declared that he was willing to start negotiations with the ELN. “The political responsibility of this new peace effort falls solely on my shoulders,” the head of state declared. The negotiations between Bogota and the ELN have not officially begun, and it is unclear if the attack on Caño Limón will affect them. In spite of wanting peace via negotiations, President Santos has declared that he will not give the ELN a free pass: on June 30he tweeted “the armed forces will continue the offensive. We will find the culprits of the ELN’s terrorist attack that affected the population of Arauca.”

While President Santos may be willing to extend the ELN an olive branch, most of the Colombian military is skeptical of the ELN. On July 1 General Lasprilla tweeted “ELN: your declarations are contradictory. Liberty and dignity begin by respecting the most sacred right: Life. You do not intimidate us!” This was a strong response to the attacks on Caño Limón. Likewise, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón declared that the ELN’s attack was “cowardly.”

As a final point, it is necessary to mention that July 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the ELN’s creation, and the movement is “celebrating” it by calling for strikes in various departments throughout Colombia. As it is likely that the ELN will continue its attacks and threats against Colombian citizens and infrastructure (i.e. the attack on the Caño Limón pipeline) as part of its anniversary, the peace negotiations between this particular movement and the government may be dead before they even formally begin.

In previous writings I have explained that peace negotiations between Bogotá and some of the country’s numerous insurgent movements have been successful over the past decades. Case in point is the peace accord with the M19 insurgent movement in 1990 and the demobilization of paramilitary groups between 2003 and 2006. Nevertheless, peace accords with the FARC and ELN have proven to be more elusive. Bogotá and the ELN leadership were engaged in negotiations as early as 2002 and 2007, and both times they were unsuccessful.

While we all want peace in Colombia, ELN-Bogota negotiations, if they ever jumpstart, have a very steep mountain to climb before an agreement could conceivably be reached.

http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeatworld/2014/07/07/eln-attack-on-oil-pipeline-is-a-bad-sign-for-potential-peace-negotiations/