Respect for human rights were under siege in Latin America in 2002, with Colombia and Venezuela standing out as the worst regional cases, according to Amnesty International’s annual report on rights around the world. In Colombia, where the government is fighting two leftist insurgencies, right-wing paramilitaries, drug lords and common criminals, more than 500 people have “disappeared” — a euphemism often meaning they were killed, often by paramilitary forces — and more than 4,000 civilians killed for political motives. Forced internal displacement of civilians has also increased, and more than 2,700 people were kidnapped — at least 1,500 of whom were abducted by leftist guerrillas or right-wing paramilitary groups, according to the report. There was a “marked deterioration” of human rights in Colombia in 2002, Amnesty said, especially following the February collapse of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country’s largest rebel group. The FARC, which boasts some 17,000 well-armed fighters, has been at war with the Colombian state for the past four decades. Full Story
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