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Aid to Venezuela Gone Wrong and More

Venezuelans, Journalists and Narco Culture seem to dominate world news about Colombia

Does the USA have a clue what they are doing in Colombia about drugs? - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has written several documents about the failure of Plan Colombia since President Clinton started it. A new report pretty much states the same thing. The fast facts page of the report states,"The U.S. government has invested over $10 billion in counternarcotics and security efforts in Colombia since 1999. Security has improved but cocaine production has more than tripled from 2013 through 2017." 
   The full 88 page report in PDF format  is available to read on the GAO website as well as to be downloaded. 

More Venezuelans than ever - A few months ago during a 20 minute walk in Bogota a total of six Venezuelans sitting on the sidewalk hit me up for money. That almost made the newsletter as something showing what is happening. But this month in a 20 minute walk along pretty much the same area  more than 20 Venezuelans asked for money or held signs saying they need food for their families. In one case I listened as a Colombian asked the beggar about why he did not try for a job. The young man responded that he could not get one. He had been a soldier in Venezuela with no other skill and he has no papers for living in Colombia. Another thing I noticed was a few of those on the street were using recent models of iPhones and were well dressed. 

Some Colombians have mentioned to me that they are going from respect for their neighbors from the other country to disgust and in some cases hatred. 

Do not misunderstand. We have also met a few people from Venezuela working in stores or doing other jobs. One lady told us that her husband, an engineer, was able to get a job in Colombia. While she has an advanced degree in science but the only job she could find is as a nanny. But with Colombia having one of the highest unemployment rates in years, those from other countries taking jobs does not sit well with many.

This could be temporary. All the working expats we spoke with said they want to return to their country when things get better. But for them to agree on exactly what "getting better" means is difficult.  

In the minds of many the question again becomes where is the money. The United States and other countries have given Colombia over $45 million to help. Most Colombians just tell me the money probably went into the pockets of corrupt politicians and their cronies. Perhaps the government needs to work on a little more transparency about the aid.

Who really set the aid trucks on fire? - Last month we covered about the crisis at the crossing between Colombia and Venezuela. At that time I wrote, "...agitators trying to create a possible explosive situation." 

Those of you who followed the events of the day saw on news media a truck loaded with aid on fire on the bridge. Many media sources blamed it on the Venezuelans. But a Colombian journalist and others showed video and photos of youths making and throwing molotov cocktails as well as pouring gasoline on the burning trucks.  A couple weeks later even the New York Times wrote an article titled, Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Nicolás Maduro Burned Aid Convoy

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the international humanitarian agency that brings humanitarian relief to Venezuela’s suffering population, warned the US government, weeks before the incident, about the risks of politicizing humanitarian aid and delivering food supplies and medicine without permission. But obviously the politicians ignored the advice. 

The Nazi Joseph Goebbels is quoted as once saying, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”. In the way the politicians did it with the aid they seem to be using the Goebbels propaganda technique to create the illusion of truth. And many of the lazy reporting major media news outlets are more than willing to jump on the bandwagon. 

Is an Academy Awards nominated foreign film full of BS? - Authors Maureen Orth, Abby Wasserman And Arleen Cheston wrote an article titled How narco movie ‘Birds of Passage’ tramples the truth. Would the authors know the truth? Most likely they do. They were Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia.

Illegal drugs a plaque for Colombia - I should start by noting that the vast majority of Colombian citizens are against the drug trade in their country. Federico Acevedo on his Wordpress blog site wrote: Illegal drug trafficking: the worst of Colombia’s plagues?. He tells a story similar to ones heard from many women. His writing leads to a partial explanation of the deeply rooted connection between politicians and drug dealers.

50 years of United States intervention in Colombia - Is The United States responsible for much of what has happened in Colombia? Chelsey Dyer, a graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, wrote in 2013 about the history of the US involvement in Colombia. Titled 50 years of US intervention in Colombia the writing covers about what happened starting with President Eisenhower. On her Linkedin page she states, " research focused on the impact of United States economic and military policies on the ongoing conflict in Colombia." The information from her point of view makes for an interesting read for one side of the story. 

If you do not like what they write, then do not give them a visa - Colombia is known in journalistic circles as one of the most difficult countries to be an honest balanced journalist. An articled titled How Colombia is preventing you from knowing the truth about the country focuses on just one problem faced by foreign correspondents. 

Below is another, though similar, view from a free press organization.

What it is like to be a journalist in Colombia - If you read Spanish then the Fundación Para La Libertad De Prensa (FLIP) has an interesting PDF about what happened to Colombian reporters in 2018. Basically their conclusion is that the government is more of a threat to the freedom of the press than the left and right wing terrorist groups. They also have a short editorial video that can be seen HERE.

No jobs - According to the Colombian government, unemployment in the country reached 9.7% with urban areas having 10.6%. This makes their unemployment rate higher than both the world and Latin America. Interesting is that the last time unemployment got high they changed the method to calculate it. In reality the unemployment rate is higher if you ascribe standards used by many other countries. According to one article, "One of the major problems with Colombia’s labor and unemployment statistics is that if you work one hour a week you already are considered employed."  You can view the graph HERE. 

Next month's newsletter will put light on a very unique Colombian foundation that helps children. 

Thank you for reading and we wish you a great day.


Copyright © 2019 Michael and Graciela's Colombia, All rights reserved.

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