U.S. AID LINKED TO ABUSES IN LATIN AMERICA
By Rosendo Majano
Washington, Jul 12 (EFE).- U.S. military aid and drug-war money sent to three Latin American nations has been "implicated in human rights abuses," the Center for Public Integrity said in a report released Thursday.
The year-long study, conducted by the center's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, recounts a series of U.S. financed anti-drug operations which resulted in abuses against civilians.
At present, President George W. Bush is awaiting approval for his request for an additional 1 million in aid to help Andean nations fight their war on drugs during the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
According to the CIP, "few Americans know (that) ... the United States is currently embroiled in the biggest guerrilla war since Vietnam."
The United States' .3 billion commitment to Plan Colombia "is bigger ... than the previous leading post-Vietnam counterinsurgency campaign, the 1980s war in El Salvador," the report says, referring to U.S. support for ColombianPresident Andres Pastrana's initiative to combat drug traffickers and guerrillas.
The report also criticizes several U.S. administrations for tolerating ties between Colombia's military and right-wing paramilitary groups, even after those groups were linked to drug trafficking activities.
Washington has been aware of the drug trafficking activities of Colombian right-wing paramilitaries "for years," the center said.
Among the many poor uses of U.S. aid, the report mentions million paid by the CIA to former Peruvian intelligence director Vladimiro Montesinos, who was recently arrested in connection with a vast network of corruption he allegedly masterminded.
Montesinos used high-tech equipment provided by the United States to spy on his political opponents, the CIP said. The center suggests that the CIA may "have intentionally undermined" Montesinos after discovering that "he was the middleman in an arms deal that sent 10,000 East German-made assault rifles from Jordan to the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia."
The investigative team also revealed that U.S.-trained elite forces in Mexico are responsible for committing human rights abuses.
The center laid blame on U.S. policymakers' narrow focus on maintaining stability in the region, which provides the United States with more oil than Persian Gulf nations.