The Washington spin doctor responsible for giving names to US-led or -inspired military attacks has got some explaining to do. For example, what justification can there be for passing over such an obvious title as ‘War on Anyone in the Way of our Oil Profits’, opting instead for the inane and misleading ‘War on Terror’? Equally deceptive is the label ‘War on Drugs’ for the despicable counter-insurgency program being perpetrated at this moment by the Colombian army and right-wing paramilitaries, funded by US Congress to the tune of $1.3bn.
But anyway, the mask is now well and truly off. The US powers-that-be, shocked to their very core by the events of September 11th, have become increasingly audacious in their treatment of the civil war in Colombia, seeing less need to cloak their counter-insurgency plans in a ‘moral’ war against narcotics now that the imperialist world is attuned to the dangers of ‘terrorism’. The Bush administration has become so brazen that at the beginning of February this year it announced plans to provide $98m specifically to help the Colombian military to protect an oil pipeline that has been a frequent target of FARC attacks (‘Occidental Petroleum’s Cano Limon pipeline’). And what is the connection between protecting this pipeline and reducing Colombia’s cocaine production, you may ask? As Isabel Hilton pointed out in The Guardian of February 13, 2002: “For the first time, the administration is not bothering to hide its military aid to Colombia under the threadbare blanket of the drugs war. This, an administration official admitted, is aimed at the guerrillas.” Indeed Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the IS foreign operation subcommittee said on record: “This is no longer about stopping drugs, it’s about fighting the guerrillas.”
In fact the ‘War on Drugs’ has had nothing whatsoever to do with drugs, except perhaps to secure their safe passage to the ghettos and boardrooms of the United States where they can be used to pacify the American working class as well as facilitate the decadent lifestyle of the bourgeoisie. According to The Guardian: “Plan Colombia, measured even by Enron standards, would not encourage the average investor to buy more shares: 100,000 hectares of land have been sprayed with toxic chemicals. When the spraying began, there were an estimated 140,000 hectares under coca cultivation; today there are 170,000. The US ambassador in Colombia has responded by calling for more spraying.”
On Wednesday, February 20, the Colombian government announced the end of the peace talks with FARC and a resumption of civil war, ordering 13,000 troops to advance on and re-occupy the demilitarized zone in southern Colombia, which was ceded to the rebels in late 1998 as the venue for peace talks. Within a few hours of the cease-fire being called off, the army claimed to have hit 85 FARC targets in the demilitarised zone (an area of 42,000-square-km – roughly the size of Switzerland). The government gave as its reason for return to full-scale civil war the hijacking an airliner whose passengers included a Colombian senator (note that FARC did not claim responsibility for this hijacking). The actions of the Colombian state, along with the emaciated war-cries of Colombian puppet-President Andres Pastrana (“Today the glass of indignation spilled over”), were met with acclaim from the good old ‘international community’. Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Pique, characterised the new steps taken by the Colombian government as “justified … since the will for peace is not compatible with violence and kidnappings”. What Mr Pique conveniently forgets is that during the last three years of ‘peace’, the government of Colombia has simply continued its war against FARC using vicious right-wing paramilitaries instead of uniformed army officers. It has conducted a huge US-financed military build-up and used the cover of the ‘War on Drugs’ in an attempt to drive the rebels out of the jungle using spray herbicides. These chemicals, produced by an ill-reputed biotechnology company called Monsanto (the same company that produced the notorious Agent Orange, the disastrous effects of which are still being felt in Vietnam to this day), destroy not just the coca crop but all crops and indeed rainforest, in addition to contaminating any water they come into contact with. Such is the real nature of the ‘War on Drugs’ – flushing out the revolutionaries.
In the meantime, as an enormous amount of human effort goes into eradicating the threat of ‘terrorism’, the people of Colombia continue to be subjected to crushing economic and social conditions. The massive privatisation programs of the Colombian administration have turned Colombia into a poverty-stricken workshop for the US multinationals. Unemployment is rife and conditions are worsening – but is there money for unemployment benefit? No. It seems the money has to be spent spraying herbicides that will render redundant the land that provides the people with food.
What do FARC call for? For an end to privatisation and liberalisation, for an end to the policies that are throwing the workers and peasants of Colombia onto the scrap heap; for unemployment benefit and for decent social provisions. They also take up the fight against the government-sponsored right-wing paramilitary groups (known to have links with the state, prominent businessmen and drug barons) who make it their business to murder and intimidate trade unionists and rights activists. “Farc are no angels, but it is worth noting that their primary policy demand is for the introduction of unemployment benefit. If their candidates were not murdered first, (as happened with another insurgent movement that laid down the gun and took to the hustings in the eighties), the FARC might even get elected.” (The Guardian, February 13, 2002) The Guardian, of course, propose a return to peace negotiations as a way of defeating the guerrillas ‘nicely’… We on the other hand take our position alongside the heroic revolutionaries of FARC who, in the absence of any peaceful solution, have taken up arms against the despicable reactionary forces that are bleeding Colombia dry.
And FARC will not easily be defeated. As the Russian Red Army showed the combined armies of 14 different countries, as the Chinese People’s Army showed the Japanese colonialists and the Kuomingtang, as the Korean and Vietnamese people showed the US and their partners-in-crime, as the Palestinian people are now showing the armies of Zionism: the armed people fighting for their liberation are a mightier force than the most brutal imperialist weapons.
”We’re here waiting for the army. We’re not hiding. They have their orders to attack, and we have orders to defend. That’s the training we have and the instructions we have.” (FARC commander El Pija)
Victory to FARC!