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Colombia and the United States : War, Unrest, and Destabilization (Open Media Series) Paperback – September 2, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Open Media Series
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583226060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583226063
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,311,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

MARIO ALFONSO MURILLO is a professor at the School of Communication at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and teaches media studies courses at New York University. A veteran radio journalist, he has reported extensively about Colombia and Latin America, producing award-winning programs and documentaries for the Pacifica Radio Network and National Public Radio. He is author of Islands of Resistance: Puerto Rico, Vieques, and U.S. Policy (2001). He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bert Ruiz on May 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Colombia is a complex nation and is often misunderstood, according to Professor Mario A. Murillo. Moreover, "the nature of Colombia's internal conflict has been completly distorted by the prism of drug-war politics," he adds in the opening chapter. To this end, the author provides hard-hitting facts to support his claim that United States aid to Colombia, "is very often used by the Colombian political and economic elite to promote its own agenda."
Murillo does not stop there...he exposes Colombia's feeble legal system. "In Colombia, the Constitution and its laws are often ignored and rarely enforced, either because of a lack of bureaucratic capacity on the part of the state to do so, or because of an absence of political will on the part of the ruling elite to execute those laws that are designed to protect the public," he reports.
The author has few kind words for President Alvaro Uribe. Murillo attacks the politically motivated violence "by the state and its paramilitary apparatus." He also is critical of the corruption of the traditional political parties, run predominantly by elites..."who compete for the spoils that serve as an incentive for cycles of generalized corruption."
The origins of the conflict, the myths behind Colombian democracy, the principal actors in today's conflict and the many views in the United States are studied in detail in this text. The analysis of the paramilitaries in Colombia is brilliant...particularly in respect to the millions of displaced people and the terrible treatment of Afro-Colombians.
Still and all, the best part of this book is the call for change. Murillo slams Alvaro Uribe's unconditional support for George W. Bush and worries that the impunity of the violent actors in Colombia will continue to fuel the civil war. In conclusion, the author clearly states that a pure military solution is impossible and that only true democratic reforms can stop the violence. Recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William Spirito on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
With the presidential elections right around the corner, or as Mario Murillo, author of "Colombia and the United States (War, Unrest and Destabilization)" (Seven Stories Press), might put it: the elections right around the corner, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez is vying for Colombia's first-ever re-election. Rising quickly to the Nariño House in Bogotá on a promise to use military might to solve Colombia's ills, Uribe has ridden a wave of popularity he created from his "strong hand, big heart" slogan to his image of a hard-working man. He has even appeared in public in a poncho and campesino hat with a ranchero look strenthening his popularity.

For those unfamiliar with the Colombian conflict, Murillo's book serves as good starting point, showing how the conflict has been oversimplified in the media and why one should be wary of doing so. The historical context Murillo presents is surprisingly thorough for a 200-page book, banking on a wide variety of Colombian and American sources, including an author's interview with a high-level FARC leader.

Murillo's stellar Chapter 6, "Colombia in the News: Structural Damages in a Post 9-11 World", is reason enough to read this book. Murillo's unique research yields gripping data regarding not only how (or how little) the media covers the conflict in one of the countries receiving the most U.S.military aid, but the surging Orwellian doublespeak that appears in Colombian and U.S. media.

Despite the likelihood of another Uribe term, Murillo offers a refreshing voice calling for non-military/non-Uribe solutions to conflict in Colombia.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Chris on August 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
After WWW II in Colombia, writes the author, only 3 percent of the population owned 50 percent of the land. Half the population was illiterate, most lived in the countryside. After election in 1946, President Mariano Ospina launched a reign of terror against the peasants, increasingly restless as they were for better land and not to live in misery. After the 1948 assassination of Populist politician Jorge Gaitan, the decade long period of "La Violencia" was in full swing, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

The Betancur government made a deal with the FARC guerillas in the mid 80's that allowed it to demobilize and participate in legal politics. The FARC formed a political party called the Patriotic Union (UP) along with indigenous, union, women, peasant and other groups representing the masses. However, almost immediately UP activists and political candidates were subjected to assassination by the thousands. The FARC returned to the battlefield and began increasingly getting involved in drugs to finance better military equipment. It's human rights record deteriorated and its popularity plummeted. The AUC death squad arose during this period, to do the dirty work of the Colombian military, to terrorize against peasant aspirations stimulated by the UP.

About 2100 to 3000 people are killed every year for political reasons in Colombia, 70 to 75 percent of them by the AUC(United Self Defense forces of Colombia), and other smaller death squads, according to human rights groups.. The author writes that in the city of Barrencabermeja dozens of union organizers have been killed, "disappeared", forced to leave the country, etc by the AUC. Women's organizations in the town have launched courageous protests against all this despite AUC threats and violence.
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