Colombia: ex-spy chief arrested

Jorge Noguera, former head of Colombia's Department of Administrative Security (DAS) under President Alvaro Uribe, was arrested Feb. 22. He is accused of handing over a hit list of human rights workers and trade union activists to the right-wing paramilitaries. A number of the people on the list later were killed. Noguera, who as a regional campaign chief helped get Uribe elected in 2002, was arrested as he gave testimony in the chief prosecutor's office, according to his lawyer. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Noguera, who has been questioned by prosecutors at least five times, denies any wrongdoing. He is being investigated in the murder of university professor Alfredo Correa de Andreis, one of the names on the hit list. Correa was investigating the forced displacement of peasants from rich lands along the Caribbean coast that were then seized by the paramilitaries. (AP, Feb. 23)

See our last posts on Colombia, the para scandal and Jorge Noguera.

Further details

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 11:

As of Feb. 17, Colombia's Supreme Court had charged at least six Congress members from Uribe's party with "agreement to commit a crime" for their links to paramilitary groups. (El Espectador, Bogota, Feb. 17) Meanwhile, political violence continues unchecked: between March 3 and 4, the bodies of three unidentified men were found floating in rivers in the municipality of Argelia, in the southern department of Cauca. At least two of them had been tied up and showed signs of torture. In the early hours of March 4, four men stabbed to death campesina Milvia Armero Hernandez, a mother of four, at her home in El Plateado, a village in Argelia. All four killings took place in an area completely controlled by the Colombian army. (Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente Colombiano March 7)

The US/Labor Education in the Americas Project (US/LEAP) reports that leaders of a new union representing workers who produce cut flowers in La Ceja, Antioquia, have recently received threats, signed by the paramilitary group Aguilas Negras del Oriente (Black Eagles of the East), demanding that they cease union activity. Two days before the threats were received, company management held a meeting with the workers to "warn them of the dangers of union organizing in Colombia." Men dressed in military uniform were present at this meeting. To send a message supporting the workers and protesting the threats, see:

(US/LEAP, "Colombian Flower Workers In Danger," undated, received March 7; Action Alert on US/LEAP website, undated, accessed, March 11)