Colombia Fact Sheet

by Alice Loaiza, California Chapter of the Marcha Patriótica

Peace for Colombia

WHY THE US WON’T SUPPORT PEACE IN COLOMBIA

1. The US has never supported peace in Colombia starting with Plan Lazo and the counterinsurgency team sent to Colombia by the US  to crush Marquetalia and the intervention of Brigadier  
General Yarborough who visited Colombia in 1962 and said,
  
 “A concerted country team effort should be made now to select civilian and military personnel for clandestine training in resistance operations in case they are needed later. This should be done with a view toward development of a civil and military structure for exploitation in the event the Colombian internal security system deteriorates further. This structure should be used to pressure toward reforms known to be needed, perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and as necessary execute paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents. It should be backed by the United States.”   
This was  the beginning of the paramilitaries in Colombia….a war that continues today. The formation of the FARC was a response to the repression that followed.
2.In 1978-1979 the American Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA) appears as a paramilitary organization, assassinating, kidnapping and bombing. It was revealed to be a creation of the Colombian National Army and the US Embassy in Bogota.
3. By 1982 cocaine was the largest export from Colombia.The paramilitary army, Muerte A Secuestradores (MAS), was formed in Puerto Boyaca by the Medellin cartel, the Colombian Army, rich ranchers and the US based Texas Petroleum Company. It was decided that the resistance in any form in the country should be dealt with by extrajudicial means so as not to be traced. Political assassinations of popular leaders and disappearances increased greatly. Most of the cocaine came to the US and billions were laundered in US banks. The US cartels were who benefited the most from this business and certainly were interested in protecting their interests in Colombia. Everyone talked about Pablo Escobar but no one pointed a finger at the US drug “corporations”.
4.Around the same time and as a result of the same meeting, the  Asociación Campesina de Ganaderos y Agricultores del Magdalena Medio (“Association of Middle Magdalena Ranchers and Farmers”, (ACDEGAM) was formed, directed at destroying any peasant and labour organizing. U.S., Israeli, British and Australian military instructors were hired to teach at paramilitary training centers. Retired Israeli colonel Yair Klein, admitted to his training in Puerto Boyaca.
5. In 1989 MORENA, the Movement for National Restoration, was formed to annihilate the the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica), a popular,left coalition of groups that opposed the right wing elite of the country and their violence. Over 5,000 of them were murdered and no one was ever tried.
6.In 1990 the US had extensive meetings with the colombian military and formed a team that included representatives of the U.S. Embassy’s Military Group, U.S Southern Command, The DEA and the CIA. It was falsely stated that this was to control drugs, but that was never mentioned in the meetings. The Armed Forces Directive 200-05/91 was a result of these meeting and it only dealt with counter insurgency. The process that was set up was to strengthen the paramilitary and to make it look like it was not linked to the Colombian Military.
7.Governments that supported  US intervention in Colombia were financed and militarily aided.. Alvaro Uribe, president from 2002-2010 was the creator of CONVIVIR (Special Vigilance and Private Security Services) and the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia). Millions were displaced from their lands, horrible massacres with chainsaws were carried out on communities, women and children were raped, people were assassinated in front of their loved ones, people disappeared from the earth never to be heard of again. The math is easy. The paramilitary who was accused of many of these atrocities was linked to the elite and the Colombian Military. The military was also linked to these acts.The Colombian Military was created by the US through Plan Colombia.
Why does the US do this?
Why the great interest in Colombia?
Have things become better?
Colombia is at the tip of South America, below Mexico and Central America, next to the Caribbean, and sitting on top of South America. It has Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. What could be more strategic?
Colombia for years has had a very pro-US  “elected” government that trades the presidency
among the selected elite.
Colombia is very rich in natural resources; water, coal, oil, timber, gold, iron ore, platinum, emeralds, silver, nickel.
Colombia has markets and cheap labor.
                                        

BUT

COLOMBIA also has resistance in many forms.

So the US has increased its presence in the country.

Plan Colombia: This was a creation of Clinton,1998, which publically was called the War on Drugs but had nothing to do with drugs. It was a plan to combat and terminate the left wing resistance in the country; journalists, unionists, teachers, community leaders, peasant leaders,human right workers,armed guerilla groups, etc
It was to be done by building a huge and sophisticated military supported by a sophisticated, well-armed and trained paramilitary. The US gave many billions of dollars to the project, it is difficult to find out exactly how much. Peasants suffered aerial fumigation with glyphosate and planes constantly flew over the home and lands poisoning the people and their crops. After fumigation the land was useless and the people had to flee. But the production of cocaine grew because peasants had no choice but to plant it if they wanted to survive so they moved to other more isolated areas.The US not only was not concerned but secretly supported this production, making trillions on the sale in the US. The Colombians lived in terror. The cities grew with rings of poverty due to the 6 million internally displaced people from the towns and the countryside, over 300,000 were assssinated, thousands disappeared, there still are over 9,000 political prisoners and millions are traumatized by the war and violence. But the resistance was not eliminated…it only grew.
US Military Bases: After President Correa closed down the Manta – US  Military base in Ecuador in 2009 the US opened 7 and maybe more military bases in Colombia under the Obama-Hilary Clinton administration. It is often stated that Bogota is also a military base since the offices of the CIA, FBI, Special Forces, DEA, etc are centralized there. It was an immediate threat to Venezuela and its Bolivarian government. The bases have multiple functions. They are a threat against any insurgency in the region, including Colombia. In several,  there is massive intelligence collecting from the region, there is now an extension of School of the Americas where many Latin American military are trained by Colombians and US military, often in paramilitary tactics. Colombian anti-insurgency forces have been trained and now travel through the americas as well as west Africa and other areas to train other militaries. Also Colombian mercenaries are trained and sent to other countries to defeat movements in resistance….eg. Yemen.
There are many US companies, mines, and factories in Colombia. The exploitation of the country is huge due to a trade-off. I will give you my country if you give me money and other benefits. And that is how it works….simple.The elite of Colombia is “agringada” and will do anything to obtain a regal life for their families and friends. The critical intellectual sector has shrunk as the sons and daughter of the old critics grow into blooming “mayameras” and “mayameros”.
There are mines and companies from other countries but really Colombia is a neo-colony of the US. Let’s look at a couple of companies and mines:
DRUMMOND: An enormous series of open pit coal mines in the northern state of Cesar where thousands of pounds of coal are extracted each year. Drummond owns the railroad that transports the coal to the coast as well as the port at Santa Marta where the coal is loaded onto ships. Drummond has had judicial  problems due to the hiring of paramilitary (AUC) as security to kill workers, around 70, who have unionized or thought to be creating trouble. From the court case, “how hundreds of men, women, and children were terrorized in their homes, on their way to and from work… innocent people killed in or near their homes or kidnapped to never to return home, their spouses and children being beaten and tied up, and people being pulled off buses and summarily executed on the spot.
The company has absolutely no respect for the environment nor the communities in the region. They often import worker so as not to employ people from the region. They have employed undocumented chinese immigrants as workers. The communities, many small towns have become even more impoverished and have lost all sense of community. Young women become prostitutes for the miners in order to live and feed their children. It is a very sad and harsh life and there is no escape. That is your only choice in those regions.
Dole Foods Company( flower production) and Chiquita Brands International (bananas and other food products) paid a Colombian paramilitary organization to perform protection services that included killing union organizers. This was discovered in the trials of the two companies in the US. They also employ great number of women to work in the flower industry with wages of hunger and sub-human conditions. They are under constant threat not to unionize.
Anglo Gold Ashanti and the new Colosa mine in central Colombia. A critical fact sheet, The Jolt, states, “the communities in the region claim that with the expansion of the mine, 161 water sources would be threatened as a result of contamination by the leaching process and the use of water for extraction. According to calculations, over 4 million kilograms of cyanide would be used every year in the process of leaching. The toxic waste generated would contaminate the Bermellon, Cuello and even the Magdalena Rivers. In addition, the ground would be affected by heavy metals such as arsenic, cobalt, mercury, et cetera that will continue to contaminate the water for over a century. The project has not yet started due to the community protests.”
Anglo Gold Ashanti is an international capital group. It is difficult to know who the real owners are but there is no doubt that the US is involved.
This is only a beginning of how the US is involved in Colombia…it could be a 5 volume book but this is simply a think sheet, maybe to open a few eyes and see what the US does abroad. I am sure it could be written for multiple countries. The idea is to show why the US is not interested in peace in Colombia
They would be opposed to:
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS
ENVIRONMENTAL RESPECT
OPPOSITION PARTIES
UNIONS
LIVING WAGES
COMPLETE AND FREE HEALTHCARE
THE PEASANTS RIGHT TO LAND
A JUST LEGAL SYSTEM FOR THE PEOPLE
FREE AND QUALITY EDUCATION
JUSTICE FOR WOMEN, ETHNIC COMMUNITIES, AFRO-COLOMBIANS, LGBTQ Y TRANS
THE PEACE PROCESS IS A BEGINNING FOR A NEW COLOMBIA, A COLOMBIA THAT BENEFITS THE PEOPLE, A COLOMBIA BUILT AND RUN BY THE PEOPLE. THE US IS NOT ON OUR SIDE.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE US ROLE OF THE IN COLOMBIA

  1. THE US IDENTIFIED COLOMBIA AS A FRIENDLY GOVERNMENT MANY YEARS AGO.
  2. THIS FRIENDSHIP PROMISED TO PROVIDE AN ELEGANT AND LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLE TO THE SMALL PRIVILEGED ELITE OF THE COUNTRY.
  3. THE US WAS CLEARLY INTERESTED IN ITS OWN ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THIS AREA OF THE WORLD BUT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS GREW THROUGHOUT LATIN AMERICA AND THE US NEEDED A STRONG STRATEGIC PLACE FOR MILITARY AND SOCIAL PRESENCE TO COMBAT ANY OPPOSITION TO ITS INTERESTS. THIS HAS BEEN DONE THROUGH POLITICAL AND SOCIAL MANIPULATION.
  4. COLOMBIA IN RECENT YEARS HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A US MILITARY AND POLITICAL STAGING AREA FOR THE AMERICAS.
  5. PLAN COLOMBIA AND PLAN PATRIOTA CONSTRUCTED ONE OF THE MOST SOPHISTICATED ARMIES IN THE WORLD EVEN THOUGH COLOMBIA HAS NO EXTERNAL WARS.
  6. THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH THE US WAS SIGNED IN 2006 IGNORING THE MANY PROTESTS OF THE COLOMBIAN PEOPLE.
  7. THE US War ON DRUGS IN COLOMBIA HAS NEVER BEEN DIRECTED TOWARD THE DRUG CARTELS, ONLY AGAINST SOCIAL JUSTICE AND POPULAR MOVEMENTS  WITH MASSIVE REPRESSION BY THE MILITARY AND THE STATE SUPPORTED PARAMILITARY.
  8. MEDIA CONTROLLED BY THE US RELENTLESSLY BUILDS FEAR BY PRESENTING THE RESISTANCE IN ANY FORM BY THE COLOMBIAN PEOPLE  AS THE GREATEST ENEMY OF THE COLOMBIA.
  9. RIGHT-WING GROUPS AND PARAMILITARIES THAT COMMIT UNSPEAKABLE CRIMES AGAINST THE PEOPLE ARE A RESULT OF THESE POLICIES.
  10. US CORPORATIONS EMPLOY PARAMILITARY HITMEN TO GUARD THEIR BUSINESSES AND KILL POSSIBLE UNION ORGANIZERS (CHIQUITA, COCA COLA, DRUMMOND among other).
  11. UPON THE CLOSING OF THE MILITARY BASE MANTA, IN ECUADOR, THE US OPENED 7 MILITARY BASES IN COLOMBIA.
  12. THEY GATHER INTELLIGENCE AND COLLECT DATA ON SOCIAL MOVEMENTS ALL OVER THE AMERICAS,  AND THEY ARE PREPARED TO INTERVENE WHERE THEY FEEL IT IS MILITARILY NECESSARY.
  13. THEY OPERATE A NEW SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS, TRAINING MILITARY FROM MANY COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD OFTEN IN PARAMILITARY TACTICS.
  14. THEY PROVIDE US TRAINED COLOMBIAN MERCENARIES( connected to Blackwater, etc) FOR DIFFERENT AREAS OF US INTERVENTION IN THE WORLD. (RECENTLY YEMAN)
  15. THE US HAS HELPED RIGHT WING COLOMBIANS CREATE A BARRAGE OF LYING MEDIA SO THAT PEOPLE IN COLOMBIA LIVE IN FEAR.
  16. USAID, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY AND OTHER AGENCIES HAVE CREATED A GREAT NUMBER OF NGO’S THAT APPEAR TO BE HELPING THE PEOPLE WHEN IT IS DONE ONLY TO FURTHER US INTERESTS IN COLOMBIA.
  17. THE US HAS FACILITATED MANY RIGHT-WING EVANGELICAL CHURCHES WHO SUPPORT THE ABUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND DENOUNCE “LEFTISTS”, “HOMOSEXUALS” AND “FEMINISTS”. THEY BUILD FEAR THAT PROGRESSIVE POLICIES MEANS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FAMILY.
  18. THROUGH NEOLIBERAL POLICIES THE GOVERNING CLASS OF COLOMBIA GETS INTERNATIONAL LOANS IN EXCHANGE FOR PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES, CHANGE IN LABOR LAWS, CREATION OF LAWS LIMITING SMALL NATIONAL PRODUCTION AND MUCH MORE.
  19. THE GENERAL POPULAR IDEOLOGY OF THE COUNTRY IS ONE OF FEAR AND SELF PRESERVATION, CERTAINLY NOT OF SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM POVERTY AND STATE VIOLENCE.
  20. EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO HIDE THIS ROLE OF THE US FROM THE COLOMBIANS AND THE WORLD…