U.S. conduct in Colombia revealed
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
Colombian journalist Ignacio Gomez addressed 1,000 people recently at the annual dinner of the Committee to Protect Journalists in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Tom Brokaw of NBC was there, so was CBS Dan Rather, Reuters CEO Thomas Glocer and Time-Warners Walter Isaacson, along with representatives of other major networks, newspapers and news magazines.
The assembled journalists and executives heard Gomez tell them how Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, backed by the Bush administration, is linked to drug traffickers and how the U.S. military helped organize a massacre in Colombia.
The media celebrities applauded what Gomez has done as an investigative reporter, yet not a single word of what he said appeared in American news media. Gomez revelations are never reported by them. Critics say those who hold authority over Rather, Brokow, and Isaacson would not be pleased if that were the case.
Gomez, 40, has twice been threatened with death and had to go into exile. He investigated a 1997 massacre in Mapiripan where 67 people were decapitated. As a result of that probe, he reported in 2000 that the Colombian military officer accused of directing the crime had been constantly accompanied by a dozen U.S. military trainers. Gomez also linked the killings to paramilitary leader Carlos Castano.
Several months after that report appeared in the Bogota daily, El Espectator, Gomez was almost abducted as he was entering a taxi. He was forced into exile.
Last year, he reported the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found an airplane belonging to Uribe, who was then a presidential candidate, at a drug lab owned by the Medellin cartel.
The revelation brought no reprimand from Washington for Uribe, but Gomez and the news director of the television station where he was working received death threats.
Gomez was given an award by the journalists group and remarked: Colombian journalists first exposed the corruption of the War on Drugs, but because of an information monopoly tied to the current government, truth is dying in Colombia. We are no longer allowed to be heard. Gomez said two national newspapers and 23 television news shows had been shut down.
The picture of war, Gomez said, is getting blurry and Americanswhose taxes and whose drug consumption fuel this warshould be concerned.
It was reported Monday that the U.S. military presence in Colombia is being beefed up in anticipation of possible action in that country and in Venezuela and Brazil. All three countries either have populist governments or movements that are favorable to their citizens.