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Watch on Colombia

In response to:

Murderous Colombia from the November 20, 1986 issue

To the Editors:

I was pleased to see that E.J. Hobsbawm believes that the most recent Americas Watch report on Colombia is “excellent” [NYR, November 20, 1986], but puzzled by his quarrel with what he says we said about the number of Colombians who were killed in the period that began in the 1940s and that is known as La Violencia. The report mentioned in Hobsbawm’s review, “Human Rights in Colombia as President Barco Begins,” September 1986, mentions La Violencia only parenthetically and does not cite any figure for the number of deaths. The previous report that we published on Colombia, “The Central-Americanization of Colombia?” January 1986, refers to “more than 200,000” deaths during La Violencia, which is similar to the “some 200,000” figure that Hobsbawm favors.

I should note that I have seen much higher figures used and would be hesitant about disputing them mainly because, so far as I know, no reliable statistics were maintained.

Aryeh Neier

Americas Watch

New York City

E.J Hobsbawm replies:

Aryeh Neier is quite right. For reasons I cannot recall I assigned a figure in another source to the Americas Watch report. I must apologize, but his letter gives me another opportunity to underline the excellence of the Americas Watch report.

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