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Colombia: US Escalates War Plans In Latin America

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On June 29 US President Barack Obama hosted his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe at the White House. Weeks later, it was announced that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops to five air and naval bases in Colombia, the largest recipient of American military assistance in Latin America and the third largest in the world, having received over $5 billion from the Pentagon since the launching of Plan Colombia nine years ago.

Six months before the Obama-Uribe meeting outgoing US President George W. Bush bestowed the US's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, on Uribe as well as on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

A press account of the time expressed both shock and indignation at the White House's honoring of Uribe in writing that "Despite extra-judicial killings, paramilitaries and murdered unionists, Colombia's President Uribe has won the US's highest honor for human rights." [1]

The same source substantiated its concern by adding:

"Colombia is the most dangerous country on earth for trade unionists. In 2006, half of all union member killings around the world took place there. Since Uribe came into power in 2002, nearly 500 have been murdered. In reply to concern about the assassinations, Uribe dismissed the victims as 'a bunch of criminals dressed up as unionists.'

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"More than 1,000 cases of illegal killings by the military are being investigated. There are dozens of cases of soldiers taking innocent men, murdering them and dressing them up as enemy combatants. Hundreds of members of the security forces are thought to have taken part in such activities." [2]

Colombia: Forty-Year War

For over forty years, Colombia, the last of Washington's remaining "death squad democracy" clients in the Western Hemisphere, has waged a relentless counterinsurgency war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC} and an equally ruthless campaign with its US-trained and -equipped military and allied paramilitary formations against trade union, peasant, indigenous and other organizations. An estimated 40,000 have been killed and 2 million displaced as a result of the fighting.

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In 1985 the FARC laid down its arms and entered into a peace process with the government of Belisario Betancur.

It helped found the Patriotic Union to participate in electoral and other peaceful activities but within several years as many as 5,000 Patriotic Union elected officials, candidates, trade unionists, community organizers and other activists were murdered by Colombian security forces and government-linked right-wing death squads, especially the notorious United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) and its late leader Carlos Castano. Eight congressmen, 70 councilmen, dozens of deputies and mayors and hundreds of trade unionists and peasant leaders were slain and in 1989-1990 two of its presidential candidates were murdered within seven months.

Faced with complete extermination, the FARC rearmed and sought refuge in the southeast of the country.

In 1998 then Colombian President President Andres Pastrana permitted FARC a 16,000 square mile safe haven in the Caqueta Department.

The US then set its sights on an intensive counterinsurgency campaign to destroy the FARC infrastructure in the region and to uproot and destroy the organization altogether.

In January of 2000 STRATFOR, not a source known for opposing war, warned:

"The U.S. State Department recently announced a two-year, $1.3 billion emergency U.S. aid package for counter-narcotics operations in Colombia. The plan also is geared toward helping President Andres Pastrana negotiate peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But the plan will have the opposite effect. It will end the peace negotiations between the rebels and the government and re-ignite the war. Ultimately, the plan does little more than pave the way for greater U.S. involvement. [3]

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It went on to say that "The bulk of the money pledged for counter-narcotics efforts will go directly to the military to fight the rebels....This will tip the balance of power away from the government in Bogota and toward the military, which has always opposed the peace negotiations. Ultimately, the door will open wider for greater U.S. involvement." [4]

Plan Colombia: Clinton's Parthian Shot

Colombia was already the largest recipient of US military aid in the Western Hemisphere by 2000, but the Clinton administration increased the Pentagon's role in the nation with what became Plan Colombia.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:

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