September 17, 2001
US continues to meddle in Colombia's internal affairs
By Colombia News
Manuel Marulanda, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its spanish initials as the FARC, also warned that peace talks with the government will collapse if President Andres Pastrana threatens the FARC to give up a Switzerland-sized demilitarized zone in southern Colombia which the FARC have earnt in their own right.
Marulanda, in a letter posted on the FARC's Internet site, said the peace talks ``will be over and not even the next president will have an open door'' should Pastrana send his troops into the 16,200-square-mile zone which Pastrana claims he "granted the rebels in an effort to boost the peace process".
The United States is pumping .3 billion in mostly military "counternarcotics aid" to Colombia. But the rebels, are not drug traffickers as the DEA has confirmed in numerous statements entirely ignored by the corporate press. Meanwhile the U.S. is escalating its assistance as a counterinsurgency campaign.
Up to 800 U.S. military personnel and civilians contracted by the State Department are allowed in Colombia at one time under no restrictions imposed by Congress. Green Berets have been training Colombian "anti-drug" troops and U.S. contractors piloting planes that "fumigate drug crops".
Negotiations with the FARC inside the demilitarized zone have yielded little. Meanwhile, Colombia's military and U.S. officials have accused the guerrillas of using the area for military preparations, to "stash hostages" and to "further enrich themselves in the cocaine trade". The right wing paramilitaries responsible for the human rights abuses, who are also the largest drug traffickers in Colombia, again, are not mentioned by US spokespeople.
The Colombian army also said Monday that more suspected members of the Irish Republican Army visited the zone than previously believed. Three suspected IRA members were arrested last month after allegedly conducting explosives training for the FARC inside the zone. But no evidence was provided.
Pastrana must decide whether to renew "safe-haven status" for the rebel territory, which is set to expire Oct. 6. He has indicated he probably will do so.
Leading candidates in next May's presidential elections are calling for "controls on the safe haven" if not its "outright cancellation" should "peace talks" continue to founder.
Front-runner Horacio Serpa is planning a protest caravan from Bogota to the area later this month. Last week, the rebels warned that the FARC cannot ``be held responsible for his security'' during the march.
Colombia's 37-year conflict kills some 3,000 people annually. Thanks to a terror state sponsored by the United States government, the world's number one trainer and arms supplier that wrecks havoc and terror throughout the third world, and which is seeking to destroy the FARC resistance and its rapidly growing support. The situation in Colombia is in effect, the next Vietnam.