archivos de los protestos globales

Plan Colombia - beach head of the USA Empire in South America
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Bylined to: Carlos Herrera

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: The Granda affair and the resulting freezing of economic relations between Colombia and Venezuela ... two countries with the same historical roots ... has once again drawn attention to Plan Colombia as a strategy of US neoliberal expansionism in the Andean region.

There is a web site of the Colombian government where the official name of Plan Colombia is "Investment Fund for Peace" and contains three main strategies:

The information available is incomplete and superficial and it was in this way that Plan Colombia was "sold" to the Colombians.

For example, in the section dealing with "Social and Economic Recuperation", the only information available is:

This is a strategy to mitigate the economic crisis which is currently affecting the country. To this end, "Tools of Equality" have been designed which are "shock" methods which Colombians of low resources can count on.

In the section "Defeating the Armed Conflict" and the "Antinarcotics Strategy," there is no mention anywhere of US intervention or military forces on Colombian territory. Nowadays, there are "military advisers" in Colombia ... as there were in Vietnam at the beginning of the 1960s ... backed up by Special Forces and some regular troops. This amounts to the voluntary surrender of Colombian sovereignty by the Narino Palace in Bogota.

"To control Venezuela, it in necessary to intervene militarily in Colombia"
(P. Coverdell, US conservative senator and proponent of Plan Colombia, April 2000)

In our opinion, the long term objective of Plan Colombia in the Andean region is to take over the oil and gas reserves located along the "Bolivarian energy arc," which extends from Trinidad, passing through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador to Bolivia. The most important reserves are on Venezuelan territory and represent a secure source of energy in the empire's "back yard", and now even more so after the disaster of the military adventure in Iraq. Venezuela is the third global objective of international oil capital: our non conventional reserves in the Orinoco Belt are comparable to the proven reserves of conventional crude in Saudi Arabia (270 billion barrels). These are the reserves of the future.

Taking into account the recent military adventures of the US in Afghanistan with the aim of building a gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to a loading terminal in Pakistan, and in Iraq to ensure "cheap oil", one can assume with a great deal of certainty that Venezuela will be the next objective. In a geopolitical context, our best option for the future is a Latin American Energy Alliance using Petrosur or PetroAmerica, as a bulwark against the US hemispheric energy alliance.

Today, as during the struggle for independence, the Bolivarian nations must vindicate their common destiny and their sovereignty over their energy resources. The US empire wants to turn Colombia into another Israel, which is a mechanism to convert the Bolivarian countries into another Palestine.

The creation of the South American Community of Nations (CSN) in Cusco on December 8 last year threatens the hegemonic pretensions of the US in the region and for this reason the US has not wasted even a minute in fabricating a "crisis" between Venezuela and Colombia using the Granda affair as a detonator.

In this way, the military application of Plan Colombia is being accelerated against Venezuela and at the same time could weaken the cohesion of the CSN.

In spite of US efforts to bring about the fall of President Chavez in April 2002 in a coup d'etat, and by means of the bosses' lock out and oil industry sabotage in December of the same year, the options left open to the US are the application of Plan Colombia and/or the assassination of the President himself.

Both options could trigger an armed conflict in Venezuela. Events are very fluid and we will have to wait for the unfolding of the next chapter in this geopolitical struggle, which will give a respite to the Venezuelan people and their government to defend themselves against the next aggression coming from the empire using the puppets installed in the Narino Palace.

Presidential elections are due to be held in Venezuela in December 2006, and in our opinion, the US will need to find a "solution to the Venezuelan problem" between today and the elections, since they know that it is imposible to defeat Chavez democratically.

These are the implications of Plan Colombia for the Venezuelan people but for our Colombian brothers, they are even more serious, as explained later on. What is happening in Colombia will inevitably come to Venezuela, if the US succeeds in applying Plan Colombia in its totality, without mentioning the "theft" of the sovereign oil reserves from the homeland of Simon Bolivar.

With the purpose of explaining in more depth the objectives of Plan Colombia to VHeadline readers, we are publishing an analysis from January 31, 2001 by Luis Alberto Matta Aldana, activist and defender of Human Rights and Investigator of rural problems and the Agarain Question in Colombia.

We recommend to our readers that they compare this analysis with the proposals contained in the oficial web site of Plan Colombia and for those familiar with the Venezuelan process to note that what was happening in Colombia, even in 2001 when the following article was written, is diametrically opposed to the policies of the Bolivarian government in terms of food, territorial and economic sovereignty.

This is the unacceptable price the Colombian population is paying thanks to the predatory neoliberal policies, first implemented by the Pastrana administration and now continued by Uribe Velez.

Carlos Herrera

January 31, 2001

Alternative forum against globalization and neoliberalism, "the other Davos"
Plan Colombia: Neoliberal challenge for Latin America

Luis Alberto Matta Aldana

Plan Colombia is the most complete and genuine manifestation of contemporary capitalism. It is a neoliberal program combining political, military and economic intervention, but which is skillfully presented as a humanitarian plan to defend democracy and save the world from the menace of drug running.

It is this perverse logic upon which it attempts to validate itself, hiding and deceiving everyone in its bellicose and financial intentions, with North Americans entangled with their cohorts of the Colombian oligarchy. The sectors in power who are closely linked to capital in both countries, are betting on the political and military defeat of the opposition of the Colombian people, and are in particular trying to crush the guerrilla insurgents.

The objective of the US with Plan Colombia is to intervene in the internal social and political conflict in Colombia, to impose and favor the interests of important oil and coal transnationals, to promote the privatization of the main state industries, especially in the health, education and communications sectors, to protect private land owners in the livestock and agro-industrial sector, and above all, to take control of the enormous natural riches of Amazonia, without any real resistance.

In addition, the political and military interventionism in Colombia is aimed at subjugating the peoples of Latin America. The US is seeking a geostrategic repositioning of itself in the region, after the popular discontent triggered by the neoliberal policies applied in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Panama. At the same time, the US is looking on with obvious distaste at the political and social changes taking place in Venezuela, a process which the Colombian elites tendentiously accuse of being ideologically and politically linked to the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)

Plan Colombia represents a serious threat for the common peoples' struggles in Latin America. A few days ago, Horacio Serpa, a noted and corrupt Colombian politician (ex presidential candidate) proposed in a meeting with US diplomats and military personnel, that Plan Colombia should be extended to the whole Andean region and Amazonia.

Attitudes such as this one cannot be ignored. Our country, Colombia, is involved in a huge arms race without precedents in the region. Currently (2001) there are at least 400 "US advisers" permanently on Colombian territory, and it is an open secret that dozens of them are mercenaries, trained in similar conflicts in Africa, the Persian Gulf and the Balkans

Nevertheless, this new style of US intervention does not initially contemplate the direct disembarkation of troops. Instead, the army and the Colombian police are being rapidly transformed into a powerful war machine.

80% of the first part of the US "aid" (around US$1.3 billion) is represented in sophisticated radars, spy planes, 30 Black Hawk military helicopters and 75 Artillery Hueys UH1H, the training and financing of 5 new battalions with up to 52,000 professional soldiers which will complement the 150,000 already in existence, resulting in a total of 320,00 persons linked to military, intelligence and security operations.

This is not a game. Latin America must take this very seriously. The US is reconstructing a cold war scenario in which Colombia could become the beach head for a future US invasion of Venezuela.

In Amazonia, particularly in the area between Ecuador and Colombia, there is great concern due to the environmental impact caused by the indiscriminate use of phosphates and the spores contained in the chemical Fusarium Oxisporum against coca plantations. There is a clear understanding in the communities that this will be devastating aggression for the rain forest, which will have even graver consequences for this reserve which belongs to the whole of humanity.

It is difficult to believe that the US will leave Amazonia once having established itself there. Its natural riches and the nearby oil reserves are an attractive magnet for international capital.

In general, for neighboring governments, Plan Colombia will generate more violence due to technological changes in the conflict, a massive US presence in the region, will cause thousands of refugees, and probably the coca plantations will extend further into Amazonia itself.

The traps contained in Plan Colombia

1. Fighting drug running:

Drug running is a by product of contemporary capitalism. The millions of dollars produced by the drug business are the plasma necessary to offset the anemia in a system based on speculation, and thus it is necessary to maintain the circulation of the enormous capital flows which give it life.

The concern of the US regarding drug running is simply hypocritical. On the one hand, they are looking for synthetic substitutes for various hallucinogenics and drugs to have a tighter control over the business. On the other hand, they allow "tax havens" to exist so that they can keep the huge capital flows produced by the narco dollars.

There is no "Plan United States" to disarticulate the financial structures needed to be left intact and which deal with the commercialization of the drugs, and whose managers are in the heart of the big cities, often linked to the international banking system. Even less mention is made of the 20 million addicts and street junkies, whose existence is detailed in the US's own data.

The factories providing chemical supplies and additives necessary to make cocaine and heroin are generally North American and there have been no sanctions issued in this respect. The modern day US, with its enormous marihuana plantations in Virginia and California, is the world's leading producer of this plant, and marihuana is ranked third in agricultural production after corn and wheat. It looks as though, providing this production does not lead to capital flight, it is not a great concern for the US government.

It can be seen that by presenting themselves to the world as enemies of drug running, the US has just created a paradox. If this is the aim of Plan Colombia, then it is just a trap, which is basically covering up US interests to consolidate the hegemonic accumulation of financial and transnational capital. In this way, the US uses this strategy to throw up a smokescreen on reality to justify its true intentions; it is not at all strange that in this bellicose plan, the CIA has classified the FARC-EP as a terrorist and narco-guerrilla group.

It is a tendentious argument by the US to claim that this large part of the Colombian peasant farmers' movement, which has taken up arms against the injustice of capitalism, belongs to and depends on a phenomenon that corresponds to the forms of capital accumulation and speculation peculiar to drug running.

Reality has demonstrated that the US-Colombian status quo is worried by the popular support for the guerrilla and its significant political and military strength. They fear that its continuing development will lead to the organization of social movements in Colombia, which will then become an example to be followed by other opposition groups in Latin America and the world.

It is this situation which has compelled the Colombian oligarchy and the North Americans to recognize and be concerned mainly for the armed facet of the social and political conflict. Just as the current process of dialogue and negotiations between the insurgents and the Colombian government is a triumph for the popular and social movements fighting for peace, and which have also had a dynamic effect of the FARC-EP and the ELN with their proposals. Plan Colombia constitutes the most obvious threat to peace, not only to Colombia, but in the region as a whole.

2. Defense of democracy:

Plan Colombia is a life raft for the rotten Colombian institutions. It is the means by which the collapse of a traditionally corrupt and deeply criminal establishment, trapped in a profound economic and political crisis, can be avoided. It is prudent to remember that US support, above all in military terms, has traditionally favored governments with common policies and interests, and generally this "aid" has been received by those regimes consciously committed to the violation of human rights.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the main beneficiary of such "aid" and military training by the US in the western hemisphere, is Colombia. This is precisely why the security forces, the police, the military and the establishment in general has built up the most alarming record of human rights violations in the west.

The stability of the genocidal Colombian regime has been maintained by generalized repression and political crimes. Justice, the backbone of a democracy, boasts a 97% impunity rate in Colombia, that is to say that it does not exist. Poverty is spreading like a cancer to the point that of an approximately 40 million population, 25 million are poor, with 10 million living in abject poverty. Corruption reaches all levels of the State and will turn out to be an unsustainable factor.

Colombia has two million internal refugees and an all but exterminated political opposition party (1). Such is the drama that it should be remembered that half of trade unionists murdered in the world are Colombians. According to official data, 20% of the economically active population is out of work and at least 40% depend on the informal economy which does not offer any sort of social guarantees.

This is a country which has a deficit of 10,000 health professionals and 7,000 teachers. Despite these facts, every year the number of teachers is reduced and hospitals are closed due to lack of resources. Meanwhile, the government has the luxury of contracting 52,000 military specialists to wage a mercenary war against its own people, obviously with all the social and wage guarantees, at the cost of thousands of public employees and workers dismissed.

Only a politically oligarchic regime, betraying its own homeland as is the present Colombian government, can guarantee the strategic interests of the US and the neoliberal exploitation embodied in transnational capital. In spite of all this, the government is using the incredible argument of "defending democracy and regional stability" to justify US interventionism. President Pastrana has invited European and neighboring governments to support Colombian democracy, as if this really existed.

On this pretext, the administration of President Pastrana has given the control of the national economy to the IMF and the Internacional Banks. He has ceded internal political control to the determination of the US State Department, while security aspects are grossly manipulated by the Strategic Southern Command, the CIA and the DEA. In its most crystal clear expression, Plan Colombia is apt for this time of neoliberalism and globalization, where national sovereignty takes second place, while the right to self-determination and the dignity of the Colombian people is simply ignored.

3. Social development components:

The US intends to mitigate the consequences of the war by means of the social elements contained Plan Colombia, which amount to 20% of the total plan. The idea is that the social and economic life of the country continues on its merry path in the midst of the devastating consequences of the conflict. That is, privatizations will be intensified and in general the neoliberal rhythm of the economy will be maintained.

The intensification of the war has already been foreseen (this is how the macabre execution of farm workers is defined, killed by the paramilitary strategy implemented by the State) and will generate more than 400,000 new refugees. The relocation of these people has been cynically budgeted as a palliative for the thousands of people kicked off the land, victims of the "integral strategy" of bombings, fumigation and massacres. It goes without saying that 70% of these aid resources will be administered by NGO's. (Last year, 2000, more than 1,000 new NGO's have been registered, most of which are attributable to representatives of "civil society").

In large cities a fall in the consumption of rice, manioc, platains and potatoes etc., which are the basic elements of the Colombian diet, has not been forecast. While the Colombian countryside goes up in flames, 7.5 million tonnes of food is being imported, and North American cereals are being purchased. By means of a clear antiagrarian legislation and an antipatriotic policy of imports, what remains of Colombia's impoverished peasant farmer economy is being wiped out. The tragedy, desolation and poverty in our peasant workers ranks, seems as if it happening on a far off planet.

It is a question of generating a climate of national skepticism and indifference towards the reality of our countryside. The agrarian question and the rural areas in general have taken on a special importance now that Plan Colombia is underway. This military, political and social program is a replay of the secular aggression suffered for more than a century by the Colombian peasantry. Without any doubt, the process of agrarian counter reforms will be pushed forward. Idle lands will increase and the neoliberal policies aimed at agro-industrial development, genetically modified crops, the use of certified seeds, are all measures which will destroy the peasant farmer economy and the ability of the country to feed itself.

Let us not forget that Colombia is one of the places in the world with the greatest concentration of land in the hands of a few owners. 1.5% of land owners are proprietors of 80% of the total area that can be used for growing food. Idle lands have been the structural support of the anti-democratic system which controls the destiny of Colombia.

The Colombian oligarchy wants to assume social, ideological and political control over the peasant farmers. In fact, the US sees the peasantry as potential allies of the insurgents, since the FARC-EP has historically been part of rural areas and most of its soldiers are peasants who have taken up arms.

Plan Colombia's strategy is designed to weaken the organizational capacity and mobilization of the trade unionists and workers, and particularly the peasant movement. Since most of the base of the guerrilla insurgents is to be found in the countryside, it is precisely there where the terrible slaughter of rural workers takes place, carried out by the paramilitary death squads.

The favorable attitude shown by a considerable part of the Colombian parliament towards the paramilitaries is not even thinly disguised, as in the case of the cattle ranchers and agricultural associations. The repeated opinions by the Attorney General and the Procurator General calling for the political recognition of this network of assassins cannot be ignored either, as well as similar opinions expressed by the Church Hierarchy led by Bishop Gutierrez Pabon of Chinquinquira, political leaders led by Álvaro Uribe Velez, ex generals such as Harold Bedoya and Rito Alejo del Rio, all of whom together with others are clamoring in favor of an all out war.

It is important to emphasize that the AUC (United Self-defenders of Colombia -- a name given to the paramilitary networks) are led by self-confessed drug traffickers. These have been strategically aligned with the CIA and DEA when their services are required, such as when a group calling itself PEPES was created, linked to the Cali cartel and the DEA, and executed the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar Gaviria. This contributed decisively to the breaking up of the powerful Medellin cartel, according to declarations a few days later by a band of paid assassins called "La Terraza" in an extensive document published in Semana, a magazine with a wide circulation in Colombia.

The Colombian peasantry, as the rest of the popular movements, will respond well to the new challenge which has been thrown at them, but needs not to be isolated, it needs a voice, helping hands and the support of all those whose dream is to construct a new democracy and a more just world.

The anti-agrarian policies that are dominating the present neoliberal period have undermined the possibility of reaching self-sufficiency in food production in southern countries, provoking as a result, the destruction of industrial sectors that process the produce from the land. The monopolies and oligopolies have proposed planting genetically modified crops to control food production throughout the world, converting this strategic matter into a mechanism of neocolonial domination. This is one of the traps hidden in Plan Colombia, which we were obliged to reveal.

In addition, it is a trap to place coca and poppy (amapola) plantations on the same level (they have arbitrarily labeled "illicit") as drug trafficking. Coca and poppy plantations had always formed part of subsistence crops incorporated into the rural economy.

The peasant workers were launched into this new reality by social and economic circumstances which were imposed upon them. As a result, it is not correct to label them illicit crops. In the conception of the peasantry, coca and poppy crops still continue to be a fruit of the earth. Among other reasons, they are the only possible crops that can be grown in the geographic conditions where many peasant farmer families live.

In general, coca plantations are a form of subsistence used by the peasant farmers so that they do not have to abandon the rural environment. For this reason, it is important to separate the two realities. Drug running and planting. The first is a by product of capitalism and the second is a product of the injustices of capitalism when idle lands, violence and antiagrarian policies come together to oppress the peasantry.

4. Plan Colombia and the peace process:

The high dignitaries of the US and Colombia have emphasized their commitment to peace. And this is certain, but it is a distant peace from the one needed by Colombia. The obsession of the Colombian ruling classes for peace is aimed at obliging the guerrilla insurgents to sign an agreement whose main component is the surrendering of arms, the demobilization and the reinsertion of the guerrillas into the traditional institutional scheme of things, offering in exchange numerous prebends and electoral posts, and financing of aid projects via the NGO's, such as happened in the past with the M-19, the EPL and the CRS (a minority grouping of the ELN).

One cannot fall into the trap that is part of a supposed humanitarian intervention to attain peace. Plan Colombia means a peace which is like the one in a cemetery. This proposal is gaining followers in the NGO's who have made the mistake of accepting the social and military aspects contained in Plan Colombia. The social part of the Plan, supposedly linked to peace, is just a carrot of aid and assistance to keep consciences clear, after the final application of the war mongering garrote called neoliberalism..

To conclude, I would like to reiterate that Plan Colombia is the launching pad for Yankee intervention in Latin America. It is an affront to the people of this continent based on the new model of US economic, political and military intervention into what they consider to be their backyard.

There is a stiff test to come in which our people will have to increase their dignity and valor to face up to the coming difficult stage of struggle and resistance. It our responsibility to change the course of history which they want to impose on us. The social and popular struggle will play an important part in what is also an expression of the guerrilla struggle as well. This has become a symbol of hope for the struggle being carried out by people against the savage nature of predatory capitalism.

The international rejection of the Plan against Colombia should in itself become a unifying component in the political struggle which the oppressed and exploited are waging against the hegemonic, military globalization of transnational capital, both from the US and Europe. This is the framework for these efforts to build a lasting peace in the world.

Democracy and human rights are incompatible with the colonialism which is subjugating and restricting the sovereignty and independency of nations.

To defeat this situation of lack of dignity, social misery and political and economic dictatorship, it is necessary to go from simple proposals to concrete resistance.

If we are in favor of democracy and human rights, then we need to have a moral and ethical obligation: to fight without yielding to the system that is denying us these rights.

El Plan Colombia -- cabeza de playa del imperio en Sudamérica

noticias 2005 | plan colombia |