– US imperialism commits $1.3 billion to stamping out the Colombian liberation movement.
In early 1999 the government of Colombia began peace talks with the leaders of the Colombian liberation movement, which is led by FARC and the ELN. The latter had taken over half the country, so the government felt it had no choice but to negotiate with them to bring about a peace that would benefit both sides. At the time US imperialism was far from pleased with the decision to commence peace talks, since these could clearly only result in success if massive concessions were made to the anti-imperialist liberation fighters seeking to retain Colombia’s resources to benefit the Colombian people rather than allowing them to continue to be looted by foreign-based multinationals.
There was no way that US imperialism was prepared to sit back and allow its multinationals’ gorging on Colombian wealth to be cut down, particularly since Colombia is now a major oil producer supplying a large proportion of the US demand for cheap oil. Such is the magnitude of the profits extracted by imperialism from its exploitation of the resources of Colombia that in defence of that loot it now turns out the US administration is prepared to put up big money – $1.3 billion no less! The article reproduced elsewhere in this issue, ‘War and Profit’, shows that a great deal of that money will go to purchase military materiel from US corporations. But at the end of the day, the Colombian puppet government is being supplied with a huge boost to its forces of repression – all aimed at helping it wipe out FARC and the ELN.
Now as in previous years and in other Latin American countries, US interference is dressed up as a war against drugs. Certainly much of the $1.3 billion will be spent on herbicidal chemicals. These herbicides, however, which are extremely toxic to humans as well, kill everything that grows. The idea is to spray the areas under guerrilla control and starve out the population – the same tactic as was used in Vietnam, where areas under the control of the liberation movement were sprayed with Agent Orange for the same purpose and with the same effect. Nevertheless, the tactic failed in Vietnam, from which US imperialism was eventually forced to beat a humiliating retreat, to take what comfort it could from the ecological disaster it had left behind to afflict the liberated people of Vietnam for generations to come.
As we showed in our article on Colombia in our January 1999 issue (see: http://www.lalkar. org/issues/contents /jan1999/colombia.htm), the guerrilla movement is ideologically opposed to the cocaine trade. It does not persecute peasants growing coca leaves, however, if that is their only means of subsistence, though it does encourage the growing of alternative crops. For as FARC commander, Raúl Reyes, stated at a workshop held in San José, Costa Rica, on July 18-19, 1997,
“the struggle against the drugs trade – that scourge of humanity, which benefits only imperialism – politically and economically, is an anti-imperialist struggle for the sovereignty and self-determination of the people of the world, at the same time as being a struggle against national ruling élites, a struggle for the benefit of the vast masses of those nations’ people. The fight against the drugs trade is fundamental to our programme of guaranteeing to our peoples a life of social justice, dignity, peace, democracy and national sovereignty.”
In other words, if US imperialism were genuinely interested in stopping the drugs trade, it would be supporting the guerrilla movement, not collaborating with Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers, paramilitaries such as Carlos Castaño, to try to wipe it out. There can be little doubt that, as in Afghanistan, a great deal of drug money will be used to pay for the armaments with which US imperialism and its local stooges attempt to wipe out Colombia’s national liberation movement.
It is essential that all progressive people mobilise now to build up opposition to US imperialism’s nefarious plans – supported to the hilt by the British government, acting on behalf of BP which has a heavy stake in Colombian oil. We have therefore, as a contribution to assisting this mobilisation, translated, and are reproducing in this issue, an informative appeal issued by Italian anti-imperialist organisations, along with a short story distributed by FARC which poignantly describes what life is like for ordinary Colombians living in a country run by the oligarchy purely for the benefit of themselves and US imperialism – to which end they are steeped in drug-dealing up to the hilt.
Let nobody doubt that it is the Colombian national liberation movement, led by FARC and the ELN, which both has the support of the popular masses and represents their interests, which represents the secure and happy future for which all the oppressed and super-exploited people of Colombia are yearning.