August 31, 2008

In Support of Hector Mondragon and Against the Brush of Lies

By Michèal Ó Tuathail
30 August 2008

The infamous computer of "Raul Reyes" is once again cited in an article published in the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo to defame people opposed to the regime in that country. This latest article follows another that is aimed at branding all groups working on the Colombia issue from Canada as "linked" to the FARC, again of course, without even remotely credible evidence.

This time, the attacks are directed at "social organizations, trade unions, and leftist groups, principally in Canada" and several Colombian individuals. It is no coincidence that these attacks are published on the eve of a Colombian trade unionist tour in Canada and while the regime in Colombia is being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its relations with right-wing paramilitary death squads and crimes against humanity. It is also no surprise that the focus on Canada comes as a free trade agreement between the two countries will face serious debate in Canada in the coming weeks, whether that be in parliament or during a looming election. How very convenient!

The article cites (surprise, surprise) the PC of 'Raul Reyes', that same PC that survived a missile attack in Ecuador and, according to INTERPOL, had been tampered with by Colombian authorities for 48 hours.

Not only does the article allege a nexus among the FARC and Canadian organizations working in solidarity with Colombia, painting with the thickest brush one could imagine, it also claims "a man identified as Hector Mondragon" received an email from 'Raul Reyes.' Here's a translation of the passage I refer to:

In an email of April 2 2006, Reyes wrote to a man identified as Hector Mondragon: "I want to introduce you to Comrade Liliany, she works with me and at the same time advises Fensuagro (National Agrarian Workers' Union) in international relations. Naturally she is a Comrade that can be completely trusted."

As Justin Podur has pointed out, the newspaper's use of the passive voice is suspicious. Had El Tiempo known for sure that the email had been sent to Hector, it would have said so. We can assume at the writer didn't know, but published the name there anyway, complying with the objectives of his or her source, the Colombian regime. The end result is another life threatened by accusations of 'links' with the FARC.

I don't know who El Tiempo is referring to, but it is not the Hector Mondragon that I know. Hector is the heart and soul of social movements in Colombia. I would dare say that Hector is a reflection of Colombia's past and present. He lived through terror while tortured as a young activist and wrote about it. Hector didn't fall to anger, to hate and revenge. He continues to expose the transnational regime at every step. Through it all, his hands still shake, and he sleeps very little; yet he is tireless. His life is constantly under threat not only for what he exposes through his writing, which contains some of the most original analysis one can find on Colombia (when Hector Mondragon writes, you read it!), but also for his commitment to communities peacefully resisting the terror inflicted on Colombia, coming from the left or right, and the importance of transnational corporations, many with very explicit links to Canada, to that project of terror and pain.

Hector has gone through hell yet continues to oppose the war system of the armed groups. He is living proof of what is possible, and that is precisely why he is being singled out now.

It is shameful that baseless claims are duplicated without question in Colombia's largest daily newspaper, El Tiempo; but it is also a reflection of the state of media in that country, which is in part responsible for opinion polls expressing outrageously high support for Alvaro Uribe in spite of the reality. Canadian mainstream media is hardly any better, yet I denounce this all the same.

I live in Canada and have worked in solidarity with Colombia for a few years. I reject the attempt to defame my friend Hector Mondragon and people, like myself, who work in solidarity with Colombia from the outside. While it is obvious that the FARC does have support outside Colombia, the attempts to put us all in that category are, as Justin Podur has so eloquently put it, "the desperate appeals of a criminal regime to divert attention from its own crimes by inventing crimes of others."

Many more voices are needed against this latest defamatory campaign.

The witch hunt that is being expanded within Colombia and exported to Canada must end now.

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