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News ::
Let Us NOt Talk Falsely Now, The Hour Is Getting Late-The US and Colombia
21 Feb 2002
all out war in Colombia?
Let Us Not Talk Falsely Now, The Hour is Getting Late-All-Out War in Colombia?

The recent suspension of peace talks in Colombia by the Colombian
government has the terrible potential to bring US forces openly into a war
in that country that can only truly be resolved when the rich no longer rob
the poor. This turn of events seems closely linked not only to a renewed
confidence in the ranks of the Colombian military thanks to the funding
provided it by Plan Colombia, but also to the new warmongering in
Washington. As even a casual reader of the news probably knows, both the
Colombian military and certain elements in the US national security
apparatus have wanted to destroy the revolutionary elements in Colombia for
years. These same elements had hoped that this was their time.
Up to this point in the civil war, much of the government's dirty work
against the popular movements has been undertaken by the various
paramilitary organizations. These organizations are comparable to the
death squads that ran rampant in El Salvador during the 1980s and the
various "counterterror" teams that killed thousands in southern Vietnam
during America's war there. Although they receive surreptitious funding
from various US and Colombian government agencies, these groups are not
officially part of any government-sponsored military. This arrangement
works out nicely for the official militaries in that they can keep their
hands relatively clean by leaving the massacres of farmers and laborers and
their leaders to the paramilitaries. In turn, once the massacres are
complete in a particular area, the regular military can come in and take
the territory, all the while denying any knowledge of the bloodshed that
preceded them.
This deniability is possible primarily because the United States military
overseers conspire with the military in the pretense that there is no
coordination between the military and the paramilitary groups-a
coordination that is not merely due to circumstance, but is part of the
government's battle plans. But isn't the government fighting the
paramilitaries, as well, you may ask? The answer is no. If one explores
the history of these organizations, s/he will discover that most of them
grew out of individual soldiers' dissatisfaction with the limitations
placed on them in the regular military. Indeed, many members of the
paramilitaries are members of the regular military as well, much like many
Klansmen in some parts of the United States are also members of police
forces. It is very likely that the lines between the paramilitaries and
the regular military will become blurred even further as the battle between
the Colombian government and its opposition intensifies.
In addition, as the military action on the ground intensifies,
particularly between the anti-government FARC and the military, more and
more noncombatants will find themselves under fire, whether they be
indigenous folks, labor union members, human rights and social workers, or
just people trying to make a living in this country where close to 50% of
the population lives in poverty. Many of these same people have already
seen their crops destroyed, their bodies poisoned and their land made
barren by the fumigation going on in the country under the guise of the
"war on drugs." Should the military conflict spiral out of control, there
will be no room for those committed to bringing social and economic justice
to Colombia via non-military means. Already, these forces are taking a
back seat to the armed forces, much to the dismay of many progressive
Colombians. This is what the Colombian military and the ruling oligarchy
want. Why? Because then the US can justify an open intervention in
Colombia's civil war--something it would have a difficult time doing even
in today's warmongering climate. Right now, uniformed US forces can
operate in an advisory manner only and must leave any fighting up to the
Colombians and various mercenary forces contracted by the CIA. This is why
it is very important for all those opposed to US intervention in Colombia
to band together and demand a cessation of all US military, CIA, DEA and
other meddling in the Andes region, whether it is under the guise of
fighting drugs, guerrillas, or defending oil pipelines.

Like a friend of mine said over the holidays as we watched the news: the
United States attack on Afghanistan has made it okay for any country that
the US supports to forgo long bouts of diplomacy and go straight to war as
long as that attacking government says they are fighting terrorism. It's
even handier if they can throw in a phrase or two that speaks of defending
democracy. Indeed, GW recently asked for another $100 million to train
Colombian forces to protect US oil pipelines and provide US air support for
these troops. This means that the US has taken the mask off and will no
longer distinguish between its counternarcotics and counterinsurgency
efforts in Colombia. Indeed, from the North American perspective, it seems
like the FARC wants war as much as the Colombian government, especially in
light of the plane hijacking on February 20, 2002. What is not apparent to
us, however, (primarily because the US media does not report it), is that
the government and paramilitary forces have never stopped attacking and
killing the guerrillas and the civilians who live in the areas held by the
FARC. So, when we hear of a spectacular action by the guerrilla forces, it
is usually in response to an action by the US-supported forces that is not
reported in our media.
There are several groups in North America working against the US presence
in Colombia. In recent weeks some of them have stepped up their work and
are asking individuals to join them at their meetings. Current projects
include mobilizing for a week of protest and lobbying in Washington, DC in
April and organizing a variety of actions around the continent to raise
people consciousness about the war in Colombia. Now that the peace talks
are suspended and all-oout war seems to be on the horizon, these efforts
are certain to increase. Please consider joining them.
-ron jacobs

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