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).
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 www.wola.org
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.
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 www.thelancet.com