Repression and resistance in Colombia

FRFI 172 April / May 2003

Gloria Ramirez, member of the National Executive of the Central Workers Union in Colombia and Carlos Lozano, editor of the Voz newspaper and member of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Colombia spoke to FRFI. They explained that the level of state and fascist paramilitary repression is escalating with the direct military intervention of the United States through Plan Colombia.

Carlos Lozano said the US government had openly interfered in the Colombian civil war for 40 years: ‘Plan Colombia is an instrument of intervention that, despite the name, has been adopted in the US Congress. It is a plan that never was approved by any Colombian institution.’

Read more ...

Colombia: a long struggle against imperialism

FRFI 174 August / September 2003

Plan Colombia is restructuring the country to meet the demands of US imperialism which needs to plunder the huge natural riches of South America to maintain its global position. Britain and other European powers are keen to join in. Fascist Colombian President Uribe is pressing home the asset-stripping programme of the US. The telecom industry has been privatised and now the state oil industry Ecopetrol is to follow. A referendum in October aims to create a corporate state that will finally end the years of internecine struggle within the ruling class. Meanwhile the state is concentrating its attack on the resistance of the working class and the poor peasantry. Alvaro Michaels reports.

On the third anniversary of Plan Colombia, the pretext of a war against narco-farming is barely maintained. One way or another, the same quantity continues to be grown, to make real money for the wealthy producers in Colombia, and the dealers in the US and Europe. The massive use of chemical sprays simply destroys the lives of the ordinary peasants, driving many of them from the land. Those that hold on are offered inducements to grow export crops instead of much-needed staples. These are subject to speculation and over-supply so that the peasants risk debt and starvation. On 26 June, resistance forced an Administrative Tribunal to order the suspension of aerial fumigation, and, conceding the right of Colombians to enjoy a healthy environment, to order proper studies of the chemicals used. This did not stop Uribe announcing the continuation of such schemes in speeches he made during July.

Read more ...

Colombian ruling class – under US orders

The current aim of the Colombian government is clear: prolong the role of Colombia as a US client state, prolong the presidency of Uribe, prolong the attack on the revolutionary opposition. Peace and justice are not on the agenda, unless it is ‘peace’ brought by the Colombian Army, its terrorist accomplices in US special forces, independent contractors and the fascist paramilitary AUC. Any opposition to control of Colombian assets by private US interests must be destroyed; this is essential in the case of FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army). ALVARO MICHAELS reports.

On 13 December, Colombian police, assisted by corrupt Venezuelan national guards, abducted Ricardo Granda, foreign minister for FARC, from Caracas. He was taken to the Colombian border and detained by Colombian police. The Venezuelan government delayed a public response to consider the implications, before giving details that included the £800,000 bribery of security officials. In September 2004 Interpol had rejected a Colombian request to put Granda on its international wanted list because the charges were seen as political.

Read more ...

Colombia: terror deepens

Alvaro Uribe, President of Colombia, visited Tony Blair during the second week of July directly after meeting the Spanish Prime Minister to talk about arms purchases. His aim was to seek more support, more investment, and continued military links. Between 2000 and 2003 Ministry of Defence experts visited Colombia at least 10 times to advise on ‘counter-terrorism’ tactics and to provide training. Such backing means support for the Colombian army’s AUC terrorist allies.

In December 2004, the Colombian House of Representatives voted to let Uribe stand again for election in May 2006, a change to the constitution yet to be approved by the Constitutional Court but rejected by a previous national referendum. Meanwhile in June, Uribe pushed through a ‘Justice and Peace’ law to pardon the 20,000 strong AUC, a neo-fascist paramilitary force built by landowners, funded by drug dealing and which works with the army. The move will bring neither justice nor peace. It follows a deal in July 2003 on demobilisation which is to be completed by December this year. This June the imprisoned AUC leader Diego Murillo (aka The Terminator) directed the demobilisation of 450 AUC members. In July, 200 more from the ‘Heroes of Granada’ block were demobilised. Pardoned for their awful crimes, and with new jobs in the police, military, local guards, or with long-term unemployment payments, the deal is attractive. 4,000 have so far signed on. Effectively the government and paramilitaries are buying and selling mercenaries to sow terror in the countryside and towns.

Read more ...

Colombia: Multinationals in collusion with state terror

The revelation of the secret Ralito Pact between leaders of the fascist AUC and a number of senior elected officials has lifted the lid on political collusion between the paramilitary death squads and successive Colombian governments, in particular that of current President Alvaro Uribe. An investigation into the collusion has already led to the arrest of eight of President Uribe’s congressional allies on grounds that they conspired with the death squads. A further 20 are now under investigation.

One of the signatories of Ralito Pact, pro-government Senator Miguel de la Espriella, announced its existence in a newspaper interview in November 2006. Other signatories included politicians who supported Uribe in his successful 2002 presidential campaign as well as AUC leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Rodrigo Tovar, alias ‘Jorge 40’, both of whom are wanted for extradition to the US for being amongst Colombia’s biggest cocaine traffickers.

Read more ...

Colombian civil war: Uribe’s bankrupt road

President Uribe’s government continues to reel as more and more details of the dirty war against the Colombian people surface. To date, 14 members of Congress have been arrested for collaboration with fascist cocaine and murder gangs, 13 of whom are Uribe allies. This has seriously embarrassed his US backers, with some Democrats in the US Congress calling for trade deals and military aid to be blocked. The government has been placed on the defensive by the exposure of wide-scale telephone tapping. Meanwhile a recent large scale assault on the FARC led to the death of 11 local politicians, which Uribe hypocritically blamed on the guerrilla movement.

All these events demonstrate the bankrupt nature of the Colombian ruling elite. Violence, corruption, deceit and falsehood are its trademark. The government has had to acknowledge the existence of 8,000 hours of illegally-taped telephone taps of journalists, current and ex-Congressional representatives and FARC prisoners. The tapes also include taps of Interior Minister Pretelt, Peace Commissioner Restrepo, and Sergio Caramagna, the OAS delegate for the trials of members of the fascist AUC and even AUC paramilitaries. The taps were made by police intelligence and the armed forces without official permission. Ten generals and the director of police have resigned, but Uribe has defended the Minister of Defence who refuses to confirm the names of those spied upon. 168 of 231 Congress members have backed him.

Read more ...

Colombia: President Uribe caught in his own trap

Unable to escape intense international and domestic pressures to negotiate the exchange of prisoners of war with the revolutionary guerrilla movement FARC, President Uribe has desperately invited Venezuelan President Chavez to mediate. Uribe still rejects direct negotiations with FARC and has in the past accused Chavez of supporting the guerrillas. The invitation is aimed at distracting attention from Uribe’s own difficulties. Yet it is proving to be no escape and the consequence is that the Venezuelan revolution is extending its influence.

Colombia’s elite are incensed at the invitation. The press has given unprecedented space to criticising their president, fearing Chavez’s ‘intervention’ in Colombia’s politics, working up a ‘Chavezphobia’ against the ‘dictator’, ‘caudillo’ and ‘communist’. The pro-government newspaper, El Tiempo, writes: ‘Chavez will install himself in the heart of Colombian politics’. ‘The president has given Chavez a golden opportunity to interfere in our affairs,’ says the magazine Semana. El Espectador states openly that ‘it is preferable that the war continues than Chavez be involved in Colombia’s affairs’. The magazine Cambio says ‘Peace in Colombia will advance his [Chavez’s] ideas, and that would threaten our institutional stability and our conservative political culture.’

Read more ...

Colombian elections: a setback for Uribe

The Uribe government experienced yet another set-back at the hands of the people when growing opposition enabled the Alternative Democratic Pole to win the three main cities in Colombia, Bogota, Medellin and Cali in elections on 28 October. The Mayor of Bogota is regarded as the second most important political position after the President. This advance was secured despite the fact that there were 64 politically motivated killings and 12 kidnappings in the days leading up to the election. Half of the country’s nearly 1,100 municipalities saw electoral violence or intimidation of candidates. The Alternative Democratic Pole now has a solid base for the next presidential elections.

Alvaro Michaels

FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008

Colombia – the sickness of US imperialism

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were formed in the 1960s as a defence force of armed peasants fighting their displacement in the south of the country. During its long struggle for peace and equality, FARC has undertaken three peace initiatives – 1984-1990, 1999-2001 and 2007-2008. Each has been met with the cruellest of responses, at best simple rejection, more usually the killing of any FARC member who stepped forward to discuss political solutions to the 45-year violent class war, or enter into any negotiation. Thus in March, Commanders Raul Reyes and Julian Conrado were killed by US aircraft after phoning to arrange the unilateral release of prisoners of war.

The current plan to liquidate the leadership of FARC, announced as Plan Victoria, started in January 2007 and extends the Plan Patriota of Uribe’s first term (2002-6). It aims to defeat all opposition to US corporations pillaging Colombia’s oil, coal, and other natural resources. Plan Victoria is led by General Alejandro Navas, with 14,300 troops in southern Colombia and back-up from the air force and navy equipped with nine Brazilian Supertucano aircraft.

Read more ...

Colombia: lies, bribes and videotape

On 2 July the Colombian government triumphantly announced that it had deceived FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) into releasing some captives: Ingrid Betancourt, a prominent Colombian politician and one time presidential candidate, three US military contractors and 11 Colombian police officers and soldiers. The action cynically exploited the good faith built up with FARC by recent Venezuelan initiatives to release prisoners; military operatives were disguised as journalists and Red Cross representatives, once again demonstrating the moral turpitude of President Uribe, who is intent on destroying opposition to a ruthless ruling class.

Read more ...