Colombia Death Squads = Colombian Government

The Washington Post has recently decided to publicize that the murderous Colombian paramilitaries are/were/could only ever have been Colombian government auxiliaries:

MEDELLIN, Colombia — Top paramilitary commanders have in recent days confirmed what human rights groups and others have long alleged: Some of Colombia’s most influential political, military and business figures helped build a powerful anti-guerrilla movement that operated with impunity, killed civilians and shipped cocaine to U.S. cities.

The commanders have named army generals, entrepreneurs, foreign companies and politicians who not only bankrolled paramilitary operations but also worked hand in hand with fighters to carry them out. In accounts that are at odds with those of the government, the commanders have said their organization, rather than simply sprouting up to fill a void in lawless regions of the country, had been systematically built with the help of bigger forces.

“Paramilitarism was state policy,” Salvatore Mancuso, a top paramilitary commander, said last week at a hearing in this city’s Palace of Justice. “I am proof positive of state paramilitarism in Colombia.”

In a scandal that began to gain momentum last fall, investigators have revealed dozens of cases of government collaboration with paramilitary groups. But Mancuso’s testimony, buttressed with remarks made in a jailhouse interview by another top paramilitary commander, represents the first time that major players in the scandal have described in detail how the establishment joined forces with them.

Colombia has been in a state of civil war since 1948. The pariamilitry were not only death squads, they were drawn from the rural landowning elite and the most feudally dependent portion of the peasantry. Since the state also relies on the participation of these same social classes, the interrelationship could be denied only if you weren’t looking for it.

First, who benefits when the paramilitaries killed leftists, rebels, independent minded peasants and trade unionists? The military, the states, and its sponsor the U.S. Secondly, what kind of order did the paramilitaries impose? A regimented, paranoid and heirarchial society which enforced strict gender roles, non-involvement in politics and repressed difference of any kind, even social eccentricities, with murder. Thirdly, what obvious untruths were told about the paramilitaries in the U.S.? That the paramilitaries are (or were) only interested in fighting the leftist rebels for ideological reasons, that they were a grassroots anti-communist movement, that they were only secondarily involved in the cocaine traffic where the rebels were dominant.

In fact, paramilitaries were always an extention of the landed aristocracy that props up the Colombian state, the were an anti-democratic coercive force, and were as integrally involved in cocaine agriculture, production, distribution and taxation as any other power in Colombian society. Cocaine is to Colombia as oil is to Saudi Arabia. Any U.S. politician or journalist who ever ignored the fact that the paramilitaries were a creation of the Colombian governing elite and a means of terrorizing and controling peasant farmers was lying or unqualified to speak on the topic.

Human rights in Colombia have never been a concern of U.S. politicians. Bill Clinton’s Plan Colombia was a cynical attempt to worsen the Colombia Civil War as a sop to the domestic War on Drugs. Then SC-Rep (now SC governor) Mark Sanford took the opportunity on junket around the time Plan Colombia was approved to advocate Social Security privatization in Bogota.

The Civil War has its own logic which preceeds the obsessions of U.S. pundits and politicians. Its not as though the nature of the Colombian government was a secret. Some of the reports I’ve linked to from this post go back to 1996. U.S. anti-drug and oil concerns are only exacerbating the Civil War, distorting the economy, and perverting the political process. If the Colombians want to legalize cocaine, let them do it. The self-absorption of the media and politicians have enabled this failure. Real social and economic justice is necessary, and it must necessarily come from the Colombians themselves.


Posted on May 23, 2007, in News. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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