Land of coffee and of cumbia music, of happy men and women and workers, Colombia constitutes the fourth largest economy of Latin America, even though it has been lashed by the political violence generated by the most doctrinaire forces of the dominant classes that have bled the Colombian people for many decades.
The politics sketched by the new government of Alvaro Uribe, mark a retreat from the political solution to the conflict, demanded by diverse sectors from within Colombia as much as without. This is a new panorama in which the financial and military intervention of the North Americans is most evident; in it, immense financial resources for the war would be extracted at the cost of more poverty and more misery for the Colombian people and of a larger number of displaced and dead.
Victory over the Colombian guerillas is a strategic and vital matter for the United States because they cannot permit the existence of, three hours from Miami, this bad example that can be emulated by youth and people that, seeing the state of social decadence in the continent, decide also to opt for this road. For this the guerilla is in the eye of imperialism, and, because Colombia opens onto both oceans, its borders face as much toward the United States and toward Latin America, for this the country is a strategic political objective.
The Sinister Connections of Uribe Velez
Uribe, ultraright politician to who is attributed strong connections to narco-trafficking, won the elections with the support of the dissidents of the Liberal Party and with the support of the Conservative Party of [former President] Pastrana.
The Colombian Bourgeois began a search for the prototype of the State man of “hard hand” that drives things within the parameters of neo-liberalism, with pro-fascist politics, in the Gaviria style, that of a quick solution to the conflict by way of war, and in this profile Uribe Velez fits perfectly.
President Uribe is surrounded by sinister persons such as the Minister of Interior and of Justice, Fernando Londoño, author of the ‘State of Internal Commotion’ and the plan to recruit 1 million Colombians for an informant network to serve the State. Londoño is an old supporter of the Spanish dictator Franco, who has already threatened the Justice Courts, defenders of human rights, and those he calls advisors to the guerilla armies and to the ecologist parties, like anonymous communist societies.
Another character of this macabre type is Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, today in charge of National Security, who, according to some sources is a recognized senior hitman that until recently walked the streets of Medellín strongly armed. Of him they say that he worked for Pablo Escobar during the time that Escobar had great power; also it is known that the DEA had investigated him for coca exportation between the years ’89-’93. Don Pedro Juan, as his killers call him, was security adviser for Uribe in Antioquia, the period in which they produced three massacres each week; is also, as he himself says, personal friend of Carlos Castaño, leader of the paramilitaries of the AUC.
Uribe doesn’t have it easy
Uribe, to implement a politics of genocide, will have to return to the fortification and growth of the armed forces, under his strategy of National Security, which will cost more deaths and more poverty to the people and will signify to them also, a major submission to North American politics and the search of major support in the region. Nonetheless, not the entire road is clear for the new government; we will see.
1. Although the Colombian armed forces are the best trained of Latin America in counterinsurgency, with all the technology, human and economic resources, given by the Pentagon during the last 40 years, has been incapable of reversing the course of the war. This military lives permanently defeated: politically it doesn’t have any national endorsement, because of immorality and corruption; and militarily it doesn’t present any success or strategic conquest against the insurgency.
2. Although the social base the supports the politics of Uribe is important (5 million 300,000 votes) it does not consitute even the majority of city dwellers that voted (24 million) and much less the feeling of the total of the 42 million of Colombia.
3. The resources that the Colombian state must direct in order to confront this war will be financed with war bonds, with the elimination of social services and of labor rights, the extension of the work day and the time of retirement and with more taxes for the population. These measures are thought to collect 2 of the 4 thousand million dollars that the Colombian state is promising to contribute to the war. The social organizations and the populace are already expressing their frontal opposition and preparing themselves to battle against these measures.
4. President Uribe, betting on the State of Internal Commotion (state of exception) and to the restriction of democracy, doesn’t try anything that has not been practiced by the past 15 governments, all of them failed, aspiring to give it a military solution to the insurgency problem, that is already more than forty years old: Ignorant bourgeois politics that pretend ignorance of the historic and social factors that gave rise to the insurgency and because of which it is sustained and grows.
5. The principal guerilla organizations, FARC and ELN have shown that they will not accept a dialogue requiring disarmament nor demobilization of their forces and are insisting, the same as other sectors, on a politically negotiated solution to the conflict that includes a series of demands of democratic character, of economic social and institutional reforms.
6. The politics of blackmail and impunity that the US demands to the government of Uribe, met the opposition of important political and social sectors that see as a danger the signatures on an agreement for which US soldiers and personnel that participate in military operations in the interior of Colombia cannot be judged or detained.
To this is added, the refusal of the Venezuelan government to loan their territory for the installation of military bases and to intervene in an eventual armed conflict; Brasil, Chile, and Peru until now looked with skepticism at the problem and proposed the necessity of a political solution to the conflict; Meanwhile there is also the perception that the huge growth of the Colombian armed forces can produce a overflow of these more than of the guerillas to their territories.
Ecuador is not the exception, already having surrendered the base at Manta and has mobilized 10.000 troops on the northern border which has shown the disposition of this government to apply the North Americans’ directives, although many voices, in which is included those of high officials active and retired, are speaking in opposition to intervention in a war that would bring disastrous consequences to the country.
1. Population, Poverty and Indigence
Population: 42 millions
Poverty 30 million (with average incomes 380 000 pesos =140 dollars)
Indigence 9 million (with incomes of 2500 pesos =1 dollar per day)
2. The principal enemy of Uribe is the popular Colombian movement that resists and struggles
10 thousand assassinated in the last 10 years
2 thousand union leaders assassinated in the last 4 years
2 million 500 internally displaced
4 million externally displaced
3. Structure of repression in Colombia
180 000 military
120 000 police
600 000 retired armed forces (security corporations)
10 000 paramilitaries
100 000 reservists (called by Uribe)
20 000 new paramilitaries
1 million informers to be recruited
(Translated by Nathalie Alsop)