Posts Tagged ‘Cocaine’

Unreal War Against Drugs

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Columbia and Mexico are being devastated by the American so called war on drugs. Afghanistan warlords thrive and the Taliban are back. The military fights on in the deserts and jungles of the world to defend the American way of business. And what is that way? It is the provision of resources for the multinational corporations, the international bankers, Wall Street investors and their support mechanisms in the United States and around the world. But these corporations are merely the mechanisms by which the true ruling class dominates the world. Some of the sons of wealth go into the power structure such as the Gores, Kennedy’s, and Bushes, others prefer to be captains of industry, and still others prefer to sit back and simply allow others to manage their wealth while they simply enjoy and dabble in art and other leisure activities of the wealthy, such as academia, and non profits.

Fort Sam Assists with Reintegration of Freed Hostages
By Minnie Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, July 11, 2008 – Years of preparation by U.S. Army South, Brooke Army Medical Center, Northrop Grumman Corp. and family members finally came to fruition on the night of July 2 when three American civilian contractors set foot in San Antonio.
Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, who were held captive for five and half years in a Colombian jungle, were escorted to Brooke Army Medical Center here to begin their recovery through a process known as reintegration.
“The purpose [of reintegration] is to provide a transition back to normal life after the strains of captivity,” Army Maj. Gen. Keith Huber, commander of U.S. Army South, said. “U.S. Army South is honored to be the Department of Defense’s designated agent on behalf of the U.S. Southern Command to conduct this process — a process that we have trained, that we have rehearsed, and prepared to perform.”
Gonsalves, Howes and Stansell worked as government contractors for Northrop Grumman, and while conducting a counter narcotics mission over a southern Colombian jungle in February 2003, their drug surveillance aircraft crashed. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a guerrilla group known by its Spanish acronym FARC, captured the crew, killing two and taking the three contractors hostage.
The three Americans, Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 11 Colombian national police and military members also held hostage by the FARC were flown to safety after being rescued in a Colombian military operation.
In a written public message issued July 3 by the three contractors, they specifically thanked “General Huber of United States Army South, General (James) Gilman of the Brooke Army Medical Center, Colonel (Wendy) Martinson of Garrison Fort Sam Houston and their staffs for the warm hospitality they’ve provided us and our families.”

I could go on, but this is Army issue propaganda. Notice there is no analysis of why they were in the jungles of southern Columbia in Guerrilla controlled territory. If this was a simple drug interdiction flight why were these specialists held by the FARC for so many years without asking for a ransom. If they were so evil why did they not torture their prisoners like the Americans do? Also if they were being held for ransom, why wouldn’t the US government rescue them, or come up with the ransom? 5 years is a long time to be held away from your family. If this was a simple drug situation as the US government states, why wouldn’t these guys be a little upset? Civilians, private contractors and they are simply thankful? No anger, no resentment, nothing but happiness with the USA. Gee what perfect patriots. I wonder what they would say to a real reporter?
Below is the text of an online chat with a former US ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay with his reasons why the Clinton and later Bush plans for massive US military aid to Columbia was misguided. This was conducted by the Washington Post.

“U.S. Aid to Colombia, text of an online chat with CIP President Robert E. White, from washingtonpost.com, February 16, 2000
U.S. Aid to Colombia
With Robert E. White
Wednesday, February 16, 2000, 1 p.m. EST

Robert E. White, president of the Center for International Policy and former U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay and El Salvador, was online Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. discussing the Clinton administration’s proposal to send $1.6 billion in aid to Colombia to combat drug trafficking and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who are supported by drug profits.
Congress will begin discussion on the Clinton administration’s proposal, one of the largest of its kind, next week. Supporters of the program, including The Washington Post editorial page, contend the anti-drug rationale is sufficient to support this billion dollar aid package. Critics like Robert E. White say that such a proposal “amounts to intervention in another country’s civil war.” In a Feb. 8 Washington Post column, White argues that “neither the president nor the secretary of state has given the American people any coherent explanation of what is at stake in Colombia or of how massive military assistance can do anything but make matters worse.”
During his 25-year Foreign Service career, White specialized in Latin American affairs with particular emphasis on Central America. In his early career he served in Honduras and Nicaragua. Among other posts he held were Latin American Director of the Peace Corps, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, Ambassador to Paraguay and El Salvador. In 1977 and 1978, White served as the President’s Special Representative to the Inter-American Conference on Education, Science and Culture.
After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1981, White served as a Senior Associate for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. White is currently the president of the Center for International Policy.

Read the transcript below.

QUITO, ECUADOR: With more involvement by the US government, isn’t there a fear of “VIETNAMIZATION” of this problem. Also with more US government involvement, isn’t there a possibility of drawing Columbia’s neighbors into the conflict.

Robert E. White: In Vietnam we had no defined objectives, we had no strategy to know when we achieved victory. It is the same in Colombia.
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Glassboro, NJ: What is the source of the FARC income and what is its relation to the American people?

Robert E. White: The FARC receives its income from kidnapping and ransom, and taxing the growing of coca leaves within the zones they control.

They say they are friends of the American people. They claim they are willing to be helpful to ending coca production. And it is true they have begun a United Nations sponsored program of crop substitution within the zone that they control.
——————————————————————————–
New York, NY: How does this aid package differ from previous military aid packages? It seems that it is just a continuation of the same failed policies of the past; the US continues to focus on the supply side aspects of the drug trade while doing virtually nothing to address our domestic demand? In study after study it has been reported that drug treatment and prevention programs are much less costly and much more affective than the militarized approach that focuses on eradication and interdiction, with that known why isn’t more being done to address the demand?

Robert E. White: You have made an excellent point. All of the evidence that we have is that drug interdiction does not work. Yet we are spending billions of dollars on this failed policy. At the same time in this country addicts are turned away because there are not enough drug treatment centers.
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Richmond, VA: I have confidence in your ‘take’ on the situation in Colombia as expressed in the Washington Post. In my experience, Latin American attitudes are a mixture, even in one person, of a sentiment that the U.S. should mind its own business while at the same time criticizing the U.S. for not helping to solve their problems. Which attitude seems to you to be prevalent among the Colombians right now? Have there been any pleas among Colombians living in the U.S. for military aid?

Robert E. White: You are right about the ambivalence with which Colombians and other South Americans regard the US.

Colombia has been at war for almost a half century. The last thing Colombia needs is an intensification of that war. We should be working for a cease fire, a support for Pastrana’s peace process, and we should put most of our resources into economic and social projects designed to help the 60% of Colombians who live in absolute poverty.
——————————————————————————–
Andres Torres, Bogotá, Colombia: Ambassador White,
Do you believe Congress will pass the proposed aid? Are the Republican’s generally supportive of it? To what extent does there exist bipartisan support?
Do you believe that and extensive alternative crop substitution program along with substantial economic development programs could be more effective than military aid?
Thank you very much,

Andrés Torres
U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Bogotá COLOMBIA
(Edited for space)

Robert E. White: All the indications are that the congress will pass this bill. There may however be substantial amendments. There is great concern that military aid will harm the Colombian people and drag the United States into that civil war. There is a substantial group in congress that are skeptical about military involvement and would like to emphasize economic development and alternative programs.
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Arlington, Virginia: Why do you call this a civil war? There is nothing civil about the 15,000 bandits that are attacking the 35 million Colombians who do not support them nor share their criminal ways.
The U.S. has had a tradition of intervening in foreign wars, both actively and passively -sending equipment and training-, and the world is a better place because of this -WWII, Iraq, etc.- and is thankful for it. Colombia is not asking for the U.S. intervention, but only an aid that would level the playing field against narcoguerrillas that have better equipment than the army’s thanks to the drug money that ironically comes from the U.S. So, is it O.K. for the U.S. to supply the narcoguerrillas with state-of-the-art arms but not O.K. to help the army that is doing the work for the U.S.?

Robert E. White: You make an important point: that is American consumption fuels the guerilla movement. But it is a civil war because it is confined within the boundaries of Colombia. Moreover, it is unrealistic to put all of the blame on one group of guerillas. 80% of the human rights violations are committed by the paramilitary forces in conjunction with local military commanders.

I strongly support President Pastrana’s peace process.
——————————————————————————–
New York City, New York: The Washington Post’s editorial claimed that the aid would help the negotiations and accused those who disagree with that analysis of “falling for the FARC’s bluff.”
If you disagree with this view, could you tell us please what’s wrong with it?

Robert E. White: The Post editorial assumes that the Colombian military will carry the war into guerilla territory in some effective way. I believe it is far more likely that the FARC will shoot down our helicopters and turn back the Colombian army. Therefore, instead of putting pressure on the guerillas, the result of our assistance could well be serious setbacks to the Colombian military.
——————————————————————————–
Washington DC: Could you to comment on the FARC’s perceived fear of U.S. aid to Colombia right now? It seems that they are already truly afraid and more willing to negotiate for peace now that they see the U.S. is serious about stopping the drug trade via Colombia. In fact the FARC have even asked the pope for his “blessing” of the peace process

Robert E. White: Negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC are more than two years old. These negotiations have been slow and laborious but they have produced a common agenda. And in Europe there has apparently been further progress. The FARC would undoubtedly like to avoid US intervention in Colombia; indeed the threat of military support may help the negotiations. But, this is the error we have made. Had the US actively supported the peace process and said: “unless we get progress we would be forced to consider military involvement” that would have been a better strategy.

The moment your military assistance arrives inside Colombia, you’ve lost that negotiating lever. In other words, the threat of military assistance is far more effective than actual military assistance.
——————————————————————————–
Takoma Park, MD: What are the comparisons you’d make between US policy toward Colombia today and US policy toward El Salvador when you were Ambassador in the 1980s? Some of my questions: Are we contributing to the militarization of the country at the expense of democracy? Are we supporting the major perpetrators of human rights? Why are the American people not interested in where $1.6 billion tax dollars are going?

Robert E. White: When you support, as we did in El Salvador, a ruthless, bloodthirsty and ineffectual military, you are following a doomed policy. The big difference between El Salvador and Colombia is that El Salvador is a tiny country– as big as Maryland– while just the territory the FARC controls is the size of California. If this misconceived military assistance is approved I believe it will not be long before the American people understand that we are headed for yet another disaster.
——————————————————————————–
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia: Do you know that paramilitary squads have been created by the Colombian army following instructions of the counterinsurgency manuals wrote and furnished by the U.S. Army?

Do you think that a “pocket human rights card” currently used by members of the Colombian army is enough to avoid human rights abuses of an army accustomed to hurt and kill disarmed Colombian citizens?

Robert E. White: It is true that the Colombian paramilitary forces had an official status as an auxiliary to the Colombian military until around 1990. It is also true that the Colombian military still works on a regional, local level with paramilitary forces. This is one of my chief concerns… to make war upon the FARC is to put the US on the same side as the drug dealing, terrorist paramilitary forces.
——————————————————————————–
New York, NY: We are arming and training one of the most brutal and corrupt militaries in all of Latin America, what amendments -Leahy Law implementation, end-use monitoring- might be tacked on to the aid package and how can we be sure that they will be enforced in good faith? End-use monitoring has failed miserably in the past.

Robert E. White: I would support enforcement from the Leahy amendment and end-use monitoring. However, I am very much afraid that once the war is accelerated that the situation becomes so confused and violent that it becomes a war of your truth against my truth, your version of reality against my version of reality. This is exactly the game the Reagan administration played in El Salvador.
——————————————————————————–
Evanston, IL: All sides in the Colombian civil war–the military and its clients the paramilitaries, and the guerrillas–are involved in drug production and trafficking. Both the military-paramilitaries and the guerrillas commit human rights violations -the military-paramilitaries are responsible for the majority-. Both sides have displayed intransigence in peace negotiations. What is the real reason the U.S. government is supporting the military-paramilitaries against the guerrillas?

Robert E. White: Excellent point. This is a counter-guerilla strategy masquerading as a counter-narcotics program. Illegal narcotics are Colombia’s third largest export. No enterprise of that magnitude can exist without the collaboration of important figures in business, banking, transportation and government… military as well as civilian
——————————————————————————–
Washington, DC: Doesn’t the use of the term “narco-terrrorist” by the Administration preclude the possibility of a negotiated solution? Have we just backed ourselves into a diplomatic corner?

Robert E. White: Pres. Pastrana rejects the term narco-terrorist. An elected president can negotiate a peace with insurgents who have a political agenda. He cannot negotiate honorably with so-called narco-terrorists. The use of this term by high US officials directly undermines Pres. Pastrana’s peace initiatives.
——————————————————————————–
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Drug interdiction is being cited as one of the primary rationales behind the aid that is being proposed for the Colombian government.

Is there is any reliable evidence that conclusively establishes that the Colombian government isn’t itself involved or benefiting from drug trafficking?

Robert E. White: Yes. In 1998, the chief of the Air Transport Command (Colombia’s air force) landed his plane in Miami. The DEA inspected the plane and found a half ton of cocaine on the plane.
——————————————————————————–
GUADALAJARA, JALISCO, MEXICO: Drug interdiction has been cited as a primary rationale for the proposed aid. Is there any reason to believe that the Colombian government itself isn’t also somehow benefiting from the narcotics trade? And, if that is that case what measures have been proposed to deal with that issue?

Robert E. White: The United States has turned a blind eye to the complexities of our relations with Colombia. They have reduced this complicated country and its multifaceted challenges to a single issue: the revolutionaries who are involved in a drug protection racket.

The United States should respond to Colombia’s challenge with diplomatic support, social and economic help… we should not intervene on one side of another country’s civil war.
——————————————————————————–
Washington, DC: Your February 8th article opposes the military aid provided in the President’s aid package, yet you seem to suggest that supporting development projects and a crop substitution program would be a better policy. How can such a policy have a chance of succeeding when such aid projects historically only work when the rule of law is strong and there exists readily available market access, a situation that does exist in Colombia?

Robert E. White: The precise point that I tried to make in the Post article was that Colombia need farm to market roads in order that the Colombian campasinos can get there product to market. 90% of Colombians live in cities. But there are no roads connecting guerilla territory to the urban areas.

These highways would also peacefully carry increased government authority into these neglected zones. In my visits to the FARC dominated area, the government had built no schools, no hospitals, and no municipal or state buildings of any kind. It’s no wonder you have revolution.
——————————————————————————–
Cabin John MD: In a recent press conference, Secretary Albright stated, “strangely enough, our successful -drug policy] in Peru and Bolivia has lead to the current situation in Columbia.” Do you believe that this current package before Congress will stop Columbia’s cocaine factory? And if so, do you believe that a cocaine factory will “strangely” appear elsewhere?

Robert E. White: What we are up against in Latin America, particularly the Andes, is not a particular country or group. We are against and international market cartel. It’s a major, multifaceted, global industry.

When they feel pressure in one country, they simply spread out their production schedules and begin cultivation in other countries. If there should be some pressure in Colombia, they will move to Ecuador. If there is pressure in Ecuador, they’ll move to NW Brazil… the more pressure you put on drug traffickers, the higher the price, and the more incentives there are for new traffickers and new routes to be established.
——————————————————————————–
Herndon, VA: Mr. Ambassador: Having served as a very junior Foreign Service officer in Bogotá in the late 70’s, and seeing attempt after attempt to stem the drug problem collapse, I believe this latest U.S. initiative is doomed to failure. Do you believe there are any effective steps which can be taken? I’m almost at the point of favoring legalization of every addictive drug there is, just to dry up the narco-traffickers flow of money.

Robert E. White: Most Americans know in their heart that drug interdiction does not work. Most Americans believe strongly that the United States should not get involved in other countries civil wars. The tragedy of this policy is that it is unsustainable. There will be, within a very short time– 2 or 3 years– the US will be under pressure at home to end our military involvement. It’s premature, not well thought out and has no well defined objectives.
——————————————————————————–
Baltimore, Maryland: Mr. White:

I am a retired military officer who was involved in the counter narcotics mission during the late 1980’s. My experience tells me that when the choice comes down to providing the toys for boys, i.e., helicopters, arms, etc. to support a Latin American military in its struggle against the traffickers, or investing in the country’s infrastructure to provide alternatives to coca production, the toys win. After all, they’re sexy, make for better photo ops, and also keep the factories at home humming. Who cares about promoting development in some backwater where half the aid will go into some local official’s wallet? I may sound cynical but it seems to me that many of these decisions are made for domestic reasons.

Robert E. White: I agree. The United States now spends more on military preparedness than the rest of the world combined. That is an astonishing statistic. At the same time, we cut the budget the State Dept, we cut foreign aid. When countries turn to us for help, the only things we have offer are attack helicopters.
As of March 13, 2000, this document is also available at http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/00/world/white021600.htm”

This conversation from 8 years ago says much more than I could. We will go into Afghanistan and the importation of drugs into the country by the CIA another time.

Hostages, Cocaine and McCain in Columbia

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

It has been all over the news, hostages were released by a US/Columbian Military trick from the FARC who had been holding them captive. 3 US Military Contractors from Grumman and a Green Party former presidential candidate in Columbia who was married to a French Diplomat as well as several members of the Columbian military were freed from captivity.
McCain went to Columbia a couple days before the release and he was tipped off, Fox News tried to imply that he was involved. CNN broadcast a HBO documentary about it Sunday nght 7/6/08.
From the “Think Progress” blog site I got this summary of the Fox spin and the AP Newswire report. I also listened to the interview on Ian Master’s show on KPFK today with one of the makers of the documentary “The Kidnapping Of Ingrid Betancourt” Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes. She was with Betancourt’s family when they were notified about the release of the hostages.
The Fox attempt to spin this for McCain is particularly insidious. But it is only the tip of a particularly nasty and bloody mess that the United States has allowed to develop in our own back yard.

“Fox News: There ‘Really Might Be A Connection’ Between McCain’s Visit To Colombia And The Hostage Release»
Today, Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said that his country’s government had rescued 15 hostages — including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors — from FARC rebels.
Santos made his announcement shortly after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) left the country, where he was visiting as part of a three-day trip to Colombia and Mexico. As soon as the good news broke, Fox News was already spinning it as a victory for McCain and speculating that it came about as a result of the senator’s short visit to the country:
SHEP SMITH: John McCain’s been over in Colombia. He was over there just yesterday. Is there a sense the timing is coincidental, or something more?
STEVE HARRIGAN: Well, you’d have to think as a former prisoner of war himself, Sen. McCain would have an intense interest in this case. It’s been played pretty low profile. A lot of people aren’t even aware of the fate of these three Americans. They were really working for a Defense Department civilian contractor. So there really might be a connection between the high-level visit of the former prisoner of war, John McCain himself, and the release now of three American prisoners here in southern Colombia.
Fox News’s suggestion is not only completely inaccurate, but also insulting to the years of work by the Colombian government. Today’s rescue had nothing to do with McCain. The AP describes the operation :
Santos said the military intelligence agents infiltrated the guerrilla ranks and led the local commander in charge of the hostages, alias Cesar, to believe they were going to take them by helicopter to Alfonso Cano, the guerrillas’ supreme leader.
Surrounded by military commandos, Cesar and the other guerrillas gave up without a fight as the helicopters took the hostages to a military base in Guaviare.”
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/02/mccain-colombia/
For more on that story…

It is interesting and sad to see how the politicians of the dominant parties will spin anything.
I am a member of the Green Party, the party of Ingrid Betancourt. They are at least not trying to turn this into political capital. This is what the Party has to say.

“WASHINGTON, DC — US Green Party leaders expressed gratitude and relief after learning of Ingrid Betancourt’s rescue on Wednesday after she had been held hostage by Colombian rebels since 2002.
Ms. Betancourt, who served as national legislator in Colombia, ran for President as member of the Partido Verde Oxígeno (Oxygen Green Party), and led campaigns against political corruption, was a special friend to US Greens.
At the recent Global Greens Congress, held in May in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Ms. Betancourt was made President of Honor of the Global Greens Coordination, the 12-member Steering Committee of the Global Greens.
http://www.globalgreens.org/ggc/ggc_homepage http://www.globalgreens.org/brazil2008/resolutions/ingrid_betancourt
“We are thrilled that Ingrid Betancourt’s captivity has ended, and we can only imagine the suffering she experienced during the past six and a half years,” said Carl Romanelli, Pennsylvania Green and member of the party’s International Committee. “We’re happy not just for Ms. Betancourt, but also for her family and friends after their long and agonizing wait.”
Greens thanked the international movement of individuals and groups who worked hard to secure her release, and affirmed their dedication to freedom for the many hostages still held and to a diplomatic and nonviolent solution to the armed conflict in Colombia. Greens also expressed congratulations to the families of the American hostages who were rescued.”

I have done a little bit of my own research on the FARC. They are the revolutionaries in Columbia who are fighting the regime in power. They use kidnapping of the wealthy and taxes on the areas of the country they control as funding mechanisms. I have included a link to their site and if you read Spanish it can be informative. Otherwise Wikpedia has a pretty good summary.
FARC in my mind has made a big mistake in kidnapping Greens; Indigenous rights activists and others who might be sympathizers. Activists in many countries are turned off by these actions. They are traditional methods of radical fund raising, robbing banks, kidnapping the wealthy, etc, in a revolutionary situation it might be justified in an emergency, The problem is that they have turned it into a business and if they lose their ideological foundation they could easily degenerate into an armed gang. Being organized as an army they have the internal discipline to maintain a line. But they are so isolated from world opinion, at least in the west that they have allowed themselves to be categorized as terrorists by the EU. They have the support of the Cubans, Venezuela and a few other regimes that are considered to be radical in their critique of capitalism. It is because of this that I am even willing to give them any slack at all.
I was once, briefly the leader of a small cell that could have turned in that direction. We were willing to destroy property of the rich, and to use this as a means to get them to pay attention to the needs of the poor where we lived in San Francisco. This was before the city became simply a playground for the rich. In 1980 it was still a mixed community of working class, poor and the wealthy. This was gentrification was just getting started. Before Starbucks became the symbol that the yuppies had arrived. But when I was faced with all the demand in the community for our little group let to perform tasks of vengeance for the poor and dispossessed of the neighborhood, I had to say no. We were not in the business of being a group of Robin Hoods. We were trying to show people that if they acted righteously and stood up to the powers that they could make a difference. But we were constantly asked to do it for them. And that was not what I was interested in. You can become a hero that way, but it does not empower others, and I could see how easily political action for the sake of the people could degenerate into a protection racket.
If the FARC can maintain its organization by switching from kidnapping as Chavez has recommended and become recognized by the UN as a belligerent in a war, then they will have gained the status they require for greater international recognition. But they will need sources of income. There will always be a need for support and they have the United States against them supporting the regime in Columbia. It is my contention that if they free the hostages and refuse to act as participants in the drug trade they may gain in support from around the world. The problem is that they are realists. They understand that even if they did gain that pr victory, unless they were able to counter the massive campaign against them on the part of the government, they would not survive for long without this income source. Perhaps Chavez has offered the FARC oil money from Venezuela, but that would make them dependent upon the whims of the Venezuelans.
For the sake of the Columbian people perhaps they should attempt a compromise; it seems that the outrage in the urban areas at the continued fighting has exhausted the patience of the people. But that is hard to determine, as long as the average Columbian is not benefiting from a functioning democracy there will be a material basis for the revolutionaries to act.
In the 1980’s the FARC had tried to enter civil society through the means of the Patriotic Union but as was reported in the NY Times, back when you still could read about Columbia without a totally right wing bias.
“Colombia’s Death-Strewn Democracy
By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO
Published: July 24, 1997
A state official in this remote pueblo in a rebel-dominated region in southern Colombia has a photo. It shows him with eight leaders of the Patriotic Union, a left-wing opposition party born during peace negotiations between the leftist rebels and the Colombian Government 12 years ago [Ed. Note: 1985]. One by one, the people in the photo have all been murdered. He is the only one still alive.
”All of them were killed,” said the official, who declined to be identified out of fear for his safety. ”In different circumstances, but none accidentally. It was physical extermination.”
Though the Patriotic Union is a legal party, most of its elected officials are now afraid to be identified with it. In all, more than 4,000 leaders and members of the party have been killed since its birth.
The dead include most of the presidential candidates the party has fielded, seven members of the House of Representatives, two senators and thousands of regional and municipal office holders. Last year, one member was murdered on an average of every other day; those who are left refer to one another as ‘’survivors.”
The killings have picked up as Colombia prepares for municipal elections in October, with the targets becoming not only party members but, it seems, whoever might vote for them. In the eastern and northern parts of the country — particularly the Uraba zone, a strategic corridor for drugs and weapons — right-wing death squads are waging a campaign of extermination, terrorizing residents and frequently forcing them to flee.
Robin Kirk of Human Rights Watch/Americas likens the brutality to a ”language of violence,” integral to the country’s overall political dialogue. ”All of the groups use that language to pursue their ends, and when they feel massacres is the right word to use, they will use it,” she said.
But the ghosts of the Patriotic Union are themselves a silent argument for skepticism about any efforts to achieve peace.
Not all of the phantoms are actually dead. Many of the party’s members have retreated into exile, others into a terrified anonymity that mutes their political activism. And many seem beaten by sorrow, exhausted by loss.
Jael Quiroga, a member of the party’s national council, recalled rallies that she attended, only to collapse into tears as she realized that all the other leaders who surrounded her were now dead, missing limbs or gone into exile.
”They were such good people, dreamers, who believed that through the democratic process we could be able to express ourselves, to make this a more just country,” Ms. Quiroga said through her tears.”
You can read more of the article at the site below.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504E0DE1E3BF937A15754C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

What we see is the result of years of US intervention in Columbia. The rightwing death squads were allowed to murder any opposition in civil society, the revolutionaries were driven further underground. They lost the support of the Communist left with the demise of the Soviet Union and the El Salvadorian option of attempted negotiated peace has led to murder and betrayal. There are negotiations ongoing. But the cycle will not end as long as there is a world market for cocaine, as long as there are right wing death squads ready to kill off anyone who attempts to oppose the interests of the rich in a manner that is at all seen as a threat, and as long as the United States continues to believe that it has the right to perpetuate this war of attrition in Columbia in the vain hope that by linking the revolutionaries with the drug trade they can de-legitimize the cause which the revolutionaries are dedicated to.

But what about the war on drugs? This is the main justification for the United States military support of the regime in Columbia. Millions of our tax dollars have been spent there.
“Colombia’s coca crop booms despite US-backed crackdown
Rory Carroll The Guardian, Thursday June 19, 2008 Article Colombia’s coca crop increased by 27% last year, a surge which has shocked the United Nations and raised fresh questions about Bogotá’s US-backed “war” on drugs. Cultivation unexpectedly boomed in the country that is the world’s leading supplier of cocaine, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual report, published yesterday.
“The increase in coca cultivation in Colombia is a surprise and shock: a surprise because it comes at a time when the Colombian government is trying so hard to eradicate coca; a shock because of the magnitude of cultivation,” the organization’s executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, said in a statement.”

You can read more about this in the link on Columbian Cocaine. The same could be said about heroin production in Afghanistan. Here is another war on drugs, and on terrorism and again millions of our tax dollars are being spent and heroin production has reached record levels.
There is a bloodbath going on in Juarez, Mexico as rival gangs’ battle for control of the drug trade into the United States. As a former drug user and dealer, I can say that I almost never had trouble finding drugs. All it took was money. The drug war is a hoax. As William Burroughs said in the movie ‘Drug Store Cowboy” it is a pretext for the implementation of a police state. It was the first step; the war on terror was the second. The war on polluters will be the third. How can you be in favor of illegal drugs, terror or pollution after all? But like Bill Clinton said, it all depends on how you define the term. The war on drugs and terror has been waged on people who want to change the terms under which we operate. They are anti capitalist. Not only are they anti capitalist, but they are effective and that is the worst crime. You can spout rhetoric, you can deal drugs, you can murder with impunity, but you cannot use drugs, guns and words to oppose the system of control that the capitalist class has implemented to dominate the world. If you do and do it with any degree of success, you will be demonized and destroyed. That is what is happening in Columbia. Let us hope they fail and the people of Columbia gain some control of the beautiful land they live in.

What we need is an end on this war on drugs. What we need is a complete change in orientation to take the profit motive out of the drug industry, it needs to be decriminalized and medicalized. It is only a step, but a step in the right direction to stop the militarization of our world. Again we have to start at home, not in the jungles of Columbia. By changing what we do here, we can make a difference there.


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