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Accompaniment in Colombia

While the people are drowning in misery due to the neoliberal politics, the resistance is growing provoking alarm for the global capital. In a consultative document from the US (Santa Fe 4), this situation was presented as a threat to its national security, and with this to world security; especially using the example of the growing mobilisation of indigenous Ecuadorians and Bolivians as a danger.

Accordingly, the US has integrated a complete war plan in its plans for economic plunder, mainly a dirty war, more open in some cases than in others. As an example there is Plan Colombia which was designed in the US and far from being an authentic anti-narcotic struggle, intends to invest more than 80% of the budget to buying weapons and to military assistance with clear intentions of counter insurgency and social control. Another method is that of by means of private companies of mercenaries, who are contracted by the US to make their particular war. Seemingly not as part of Plan Colombia, the US has recently obtained permission from Costa Rica to have 38 artillery boats and 9 ships from the US armed forces enter the Costa Rican territorial waters, in the pacific as well in the Atlantic, in order to fight against narco-traffic. The real objective: counterinsurgency in Colombia.

There are various excuses for the intervention and complete militarisation of Latin America. Half way through the last century, the danger came from the terrible communists. After the fall of the wall, the problem was the narco-traffic. Since September 11th, international terrorism. In the case of the presence of US troops in Central America and of the training of nationals by American personnel, this is claimed to be for the purpose of protecting the civil population against natural disasters. The name of the project is: New Horizons.

Excuses have been plenty, but the reality is that this war, declared by the US against the peoples of Latin America, was destined to obtain the displacement of the people, leaving the way free for the multinationals to exploit the natural resources. This war, although not recognised as such, is in order to defend the transnational interests of the large, mainly European and North American, multinational companies.

In this context of an attack on two fronts,-- on one hand the economic by strangling the local economies and on the other hand by the most brutal repression--, the Latin American social movements are becoming more involved with the construction of their local economies, the implementation of self-regulated productive projects that can counteract the relentlessness of the neoliberal market. It is them- the indigenous, peasant and black communities and organisations- that are, from their different realities, building their own life projects, social economics and politics, in the face of the mega-projects of the Capital.

But the military and paramilitary repression coming from the national states, supported and promoted by the Europeans and the north Americans, and with great economic support from the landholding and entrepreneur elite, is an enemy against whom they cannot fight alone. It is in these areas that international solidarity is most necessary and urgent in these times.

About what kind of solidarity are we talking? What can be done against these uniformed beasts trained to torture and to kill in the most horrible ways imaginable? What can be done against the murder of 300 peoples- children, women, men- in a community? What can be done against the selective murder of trade union leaders and of social leaders?

In the Colombian case this is clear. In these times, more than ever, a permanent and direct presence is necessary in the high-risk communities. It is for this reason that together with Colombian, indigenous, peasant and black, social organisations a proposal for accompaniment in Colombia is being set up.

This type of accompaniment has many antecedents, such as the international brigades in the Zapatista communities in Chiapas. In the specific case of Colombia, there are already various accompaniment projects functioning in different regions, such as the Peace Brigades in Barrancabermeja, or the work different Italian collectives are doing in the territory of the U'wa indigenous people.

But it is not enough. The calls of early warning come in every day from every part of Colombia. Every day there is a massacre in Colombia, a selective murder of a social leader, a disappearance. Faced with the impotence to see how the impunity is absolute, how the savagery is protected by justice, by the neoliberal interests–the united nations tell us there are no human rights violations in Colombia–as the European organisations, we have to react. And the only thing which can stop an announced massacre is a human shield. A human shield with a European or North american passport.

Our proposition would therefore consist in organising a network of European organisations and collectives that are ready to work on a joint and co-ordinated process of permanent and direct accompaniment to the high risk communities in Colombia, depending on the different realities and priorities of these Colombian communities and organisations. The aim is to get an important number of people who would stay in different regions and communities for a minimum of 6 months, supported from Europe by different organisations, with the public knowledge of their governments of their presence in Colombia and exerting political pressure in all possible realms to guarantee their security.

Obviously Colombia is not Chiapas. One cannot just arrive with your backpack and good intentions. To arrive in Colombia as human shield, one must be prepared, and most importantly one needs to have a sufficiently strong political support in order not to turn into another victim of state and co-operative terrorism.

For this, we ask for the collaboration and the knowledge of all the organisations that have any experience working with accompaniment in any other part of the world; Chiapas, Palestine, Colombia. And we call out to them and to all the people and collectives who are interested in this project, to come participate in the Peoples Global Action conference (31 august to 4 September, Leiden, The Netherlands), where there will be a presentation on the proposition elaborated by the Colombian organisations and the construction of the process will be discussed.

Now, more than ever, we cannot stay passive infront of the genocide of the Colombian people. | ALCA/FTAA | Plan Colombia |