Poor El País. Poor Maite Rico. It’s one thing when Machetera (well Decio Machado, really) catches you in a lie. You can blow it off and say Machetera and Machado are not “real” journalists, because unlike Rico they actually check their sources. But when José Miguel Insulza gets mad enough to write a letter, well, it looks like you’ve stepped in it.
Insulza’s letter in English – Machetera’s exclusive.
José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), sent a letter today to the publisher of Spain’s daily newspaper El País, categorically rejecting the existence of statements supposed to have been made by someone alleged to have been an OAS employee, cited in the article “The FARC had found refuge in Ecuador,” which appeared on March 12.
In his letter, the OAS Secretary General indicated that the reference was “absolutely false,” in view of the fact that no OAS employee had made such a declaration as that which appeared in the mentioned press article. The OAS Secretary General showed his surprise that El País would incur “an error of this magnitude, an assault on the truth, which affects a government’s prestige and damages the conciliatory purpose of our Organization.”
The entire letter follows:
Sr. Javier Moreno, Director
El País – Spain
With amazement and indignation, I have read the Wednesday, March 12 edition of El País which carried news under the byline of your special correspondent in Bogotá, Maité Rico. Contained within are supposed declarations of an alleged employee of the Organization of American States which I shall cite completely due to the improper handling of the name of our organization, at a time when the OAS Secretary General and the Permanent Council were making a tremendous effort to overcome the crisis experienced by two of its member states.
Señora Maité Rico writes: “The guerrillas move to the north of Ecuador in small trucks, as an OAS employee has verified, while privately expressing the jarring feeling provoked when coming upon canteens in the border areas, with perfectly equipped FARC members.”
I am in a position to assure you that such an affirmation is absolutely false, that the OAS does not have special missions, nor employees at any level, assigned to the northern border of Ecuador, and it is therefore impossible that an employee of this Organization could have formulated such a declaration. We have consulted with representatives of the Organization in Quito and Bogotá, and none of them have made declarations, nor have they had contact with Señora Rico. Furthermore, before the visit that we arranged with the Ad-hoc Commission in Angostura, accompanied by ministers from the Ecuadoran government together with plenty of journalists, no OAS employees had been in the zone. I can assure you that no-one from my delegation saw any guerrillas whatsoever, nor did they follow paths by which small trucks might travel.
Only hours after the Ad-hoc Commission created at the behest of the OAS Permanent Council returned, headed in my capacity as Secretary General and including the ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil, Panama and Peru to the OAS, and seeing the demonstrated goodwill of the governments of Ecuador and Colombia to overcome the delicate situation at the time, articles such as this only damage the negotiating spirit of two neighboring peoples who want nothing more than to come closer together through dialogue and cooperation.
In this context, it’s even more surprising that a daily with such prestige as the one you direct, should make an error of this magnitude, an assault on the truth, which affects a government’s prestige and damages the conciliatory purpose of our Organization.
I am hoping you can understand why this bothers me so and would appreciate the publication of this clarification.
José Miguel Insulza