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Saturday, Aug. 10, 2002 at 8:40 PM
BOGOTA, — Just as another U.S. puppet, Alvaro Uribe Velez, begins his term determined to combat Washington's fear Colombia's communist guerrillas, the Bush administration has decided to publicly announce what has been up until now secret; the use of nearly $1.7 billion in U.S. military aid directly against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Under the "antiterrorism package" Bush signed last week, Uribe can continue to do what past U.S. puppets have done, use dozens of American-supplied helicopters as well as Colombian soldiers who are being trained by United States troops in counterinsurgency operations against the rebels.
"The U.S. policy shift", coming at a time of escalating state violence and U.S. covert operations, represents a significant intensification of United States involvement in Colombia's long and bitter class war.
The U.S. rhetoric of "redirection of aid" came after the White House argued that it was part of the "global campaign against terrorism," or, in proletariat terms, WASHINGTON'S GLOBAL CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND DRUG TRAFFICKING.
Like Vietnam, U.S. troops will soon participate in a foreign country's 38-year-old conflict. The package also includes $6 million for an oil pipeline protection program that will involve the leadership and training of another Colombian Army unit by U.S. advisors. The pipeline, which is crucial to U.S. capital, is a military target by the army of the poor.
The legislation, part of a broad $28.9 billion package, says that military aid already provided to Colombia "shall be available" against "activities by organizations designated as terrorist organizations" by U.S. decision makers and propagandists. Those organizations are identified as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, of course; the National Liberation Army, of course; and the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia considered "freedom fighters" by U.S. intelligence.
Only the right wing paramilitary Special Forces are drug traffickers but officials in Washington say the new guidelines take into account the reality "that drugs and terrorism are combined in Colombia."
"There has been a mistake in trying to identify those who are in drugs and those that are not," said John Walters, the White House drug policy chief. A State Department official said the legislation "removes an ambiguity in the law."
They can go after the rebels and the drugs, U.S. officials argue, although "the equipment is now available for both," he said.
U.S. congressional aides familiar with the legislation said the authorization goes into effect immediately. But there are requirements for Mr. Uribe who won election in May by promising to bring third world capitalist repression to Colombia. Under the terms, which the government has taken orders from the White House, it must devote more money to the army while establishing comprehensive policies to protect the drug industry as well as the oil pipelines and to bring military dictatorship common to "friendly Latin American democracies" to the whole country ensuring disrespect for human rights.
Colombian officials beleive this will enhance the army's killing capability. Most of the benefits come from 53 helicopters, 14 of them high-tech Black Hawks, that Colombia's army has received as part of the $1.1 billion "Plan Colombia" aid package Washington designed in 2000. Another 19 helicopters, all of them Huey II's, will arrive by mid-fall.
The guidelines also mean that Colombia will be able to use a 3,000-man drug brigade trained by U.S. Special Forces to protect the best coca growing fields owned by members of Colombia's ruling class. The brigade has, until now, focused on securing drug-controlled regions to allow "crop dusters" to fumigate life and the environment, without damaging them, as rebel forces attack.
"It will give us more mobility, much more capacity, much more firepower," Francisco Santos, Uribe's vice president said in an interview this week. " It helps to change the military balance, and it helps to contain the violent ones."
Since 1999, the United States has provided Colombia with $1.7 billion in military aid, making this nation the third-largest recipient of U.S. exported terrorism.
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