Between The Lines

News and Analysis
For The Week Ending July 7, 2000

Listen to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking here or any of the individual interview segments below (All in RealAudio, needs RealPlayer 7 or RealPlayer G2).

This week we present Between The Lines' summary of under-reported news stories and:

Critics charge U.S. Colombian military aid package will deepen civil war
Interview by Scott Harris.

The U.S. Senate, at the urging of the Clinton administration, recently joined the House in approving a billion dollar aid package to fund Colombia's government and military in its war against leftist rebels and narco-traffickers. The aid package, which will soon be finalized in a House and Senate conference, will include helicopters, funds for drug crop eradication and intensive training by U.S. military advisors.

The assistance, as framed by the White House, will help Colombia more effectively fight the drug war by interdicting supplies of cocaine and heroin destined for America. But critics warn that the U.S. position ignores the danger of becoming entangled in Colombia's decades long civil war that pits two well-armed rebel groups against an army and paramilitary units accused of corruption and gross human rights abuses.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Winifred Tate, senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, who just returned from a fact-finding mission to Colombia. She assesses the impact the U.S. aid package may have on peace talks between the Colombian government and guerillas and the likelihood that a military approach will solve that nation's complex social and economic problems.

Contact Washington Office on Latin America by calling (202) 797-2171 or visit their Web site at

Vote-buying and threats precede Mexican presidential elections
Interview by Scott Harris.

Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party, in power for more than 70 years, is facing an unprecedented challenge to its rule in national elections July 2nd. The P.R.I.'s presidential candidate, Francisco Labastida, is locked in a tight race with the center right National Action Party's Vicente Fox, while the center left Party of Democratic Revolution's three time standard bearer, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, is running a distant third in recent public opinion polls.

Human rights groups and election observers have accused the ruling party of using state resources to buy votes in advance of the election. Reports allege that P.R.I. leaders have systematically rewarded supporters with expensive items such as washing machines while threatening to withhold social services from citizens who refuse to pledge their vote. Thus far the two main opposition parties have been unable to work together to increase their chance of unseating the P.R.I.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with John Ross, an author and historian who lives in Mexico City. He discusses the possibility for a free and fair election as the ruling party faces the prospect of losing power for the first time in more than seven decades.

John Ross spoke with Between The Lines from his home in Mexico City. His latest book, "Tonatiuh's People: A Novel of the Mexican Cataclysm" is published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Bill lifting food, medicine sanctions to Cuba weakened by anti-Castro legislators
Interview by Denise Manzari.

Congressional negotiators, under pressure from farm-state lawmakers, anxious to expand agricultural exports, reached agreement on June 27, to lift the food and medicine portion of the almost 40-year-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. The bill also lifts sanctions against North Korea, Sudan, Libya, and Iran.

However, the legislation, which could be signed into law soon, is fraught with restrictions that may undermine Cuba's ability to purchase much needed U.S products. Washington state Republican George Nethercutt introduced his proposal three years ago in an attempt to open new markets for his farmers and to fight for agriculture across the country. In response, Florida's militant right-wing anti-Castro congressional delegation, Cuban-American Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, boast that they pared down Nethercutt's original proposal so much that what remains is little more than symbolic. Fearful that the Clinton administration might loosen the controls on tourism, anti-Castro negotiators won an agreement to block U.S travel to Cuba as long as President Fidel Castro remains in power.

Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick is a faculty member at the University of South Florida College of Medicine dept. of anesthesiology who has examined conditions in Cuba's health care system. He spoke with Between The Lines' Denise Manzari about the passage of the Nethercutt bill and explains why he believes that the U.S. embargo has had a direct, negative effect on Cuba's public health.

Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick's published articles can be accessed at the Web site

This week's summary of under-reported news
Compiled from alternative media sources by Rich Fraser and Bob Nixon

  • Increasing trafficking of human organs for transplant. (Whole Earth magazine)
  • World Health Organization reports 3 million poisoned by pesticides each year. (New Internationalist: May 2000)
  • Sentencing Project reports 1.4 million black men have permanently lost their right to vote due to felony convictions. (Progressive magazine)
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