U.S. Advocacy & Policy
By John Lindsay-Poland
In the next few days, a retired Colombian colonel and School of the Americas graduate, Víctor Hugo Matamoros, will be tried for his role in facilitating the bloody takeover of the northeastern Catatumbo region of Colombia by paramilitary death squads in 1999. The takeover resulted immediately in a series of massacres, the displacement of more than 20,000 people, and paramilitary control of drug trafficking and other economic activities in the area.
U.S. Ambassador Curtis Kamman privately told Washington at the time that the army must be complicit in massacres in the towns of La Gabarra and Tibú. “How did seven massacres occur without interference under the noses of several hundred security force members?” Kamman wrote to Washington.
Perpetuate the Systematic Disappearance of Human Rights and Colombia’s Independence
The Medellín Youth Network is an organization of youth who promote nonviolence, civil disobedience, human rights and conscientious objection by means that contribute to the construction of a demilitarized society.
For us the plans for war, such as Colombian military bases where there are foreign – especially US – soldiers, are more reliable evidence that in this country there is neither sovereignty, nor autonomy, nor independence.
We believe the installation of the new base in Palanquero is not to end either the conflict or drug trafficking, but to aggravate and continue perpetuating the causes that created it, to continue imposing the neoliberal model by the government, with the aim of expanding it across Latin America, turning over our resources and property to foreigners for profit and exploitation at the lowest cost.
Statement by Danilo Rueda, Intercongregational Commission for Justice and Peace
“The Ecuadorean government’s decision to close the base in Manta, Ecuador is an important exercise of sovereignty and self-determination in the face of the United States’ military policy in the [Global] South. Its effects on Colombia are evident. The militarization of Colombia has increased substantially in the last ten years as a result of the application of Plan Colombia. This has meant involving the civilian population in the war, continuing human rights violations, the re-engineering of paramilitarism, the ebbing but not defeat of the guerrillas, and the gradual decay of democratic advances toward of a Social State ruled by Law. With the coming military agreements between Colombia and the United States to make up for the end of the Manta base’s operations, the US military presence and geostrategic control of Colombia will be reinforced. The impact this produces is the realignment of military and logistical operations from the North to the South – not only in Colombia, but in all Latin America, today deployed from our country in sites such as Tres Esquinas, Ladrilleros, Tolemaida, Villavicencio, and San Andrés.
By Teo Ballvé
This article appeared in the June 15, 2009 edition of The Nation.
May 27, 2009
Research support for this article was provided by the Puffin Foundation Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with additional support from Project Word, a Massachusetts-based media nonprofit organization.
A group of workers in the militarized palm fields of Colombia
On May 14 Colombia's attorney general quietly posted notice on his office's website of a public hearing that will decide the fate of Coproagrosur, a palm oil cooperative based in the town of Simití in the northern province of Bolívar. A confessed drug-trafficking paramilitary chief known as Macaco had turned over to the government the cooperative's assets, which he claims to own, as part of a victim reparations program.
May 18, 2009, Oakland, CA: The United States is planning to establish a new military facility in Colombia that will give the U.S. increased capacity for military intervention throughout most of Latin America. Given the tense relations of Washington with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, as well as the Colombian military’s atrocious human rights record, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) believes the plan should be taken off the table.
Hear an interview with John Lindsay-Poland on this story on KPFA's La Raza Chronicles broadcast on May 26.
Human Rights & Faith-Based Organizations Call on President Obama: End “Plan Colombia” and Change U.S. Drug PolicyU.S. Advocacy & Policy
February 26, 2009
The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and more than 45 other national and regional human rights organizations and faith-based institutions today released a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a major change in U.S. policy toward Colombia. Responding to the President’s first address to a joint session of Congress – in which he stated the need to “go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs” and to “act boldly and wisely” – the groups urged the President to end a failed drug policy in Colombia and to invest in drug treatment for U.S. citizens and aid for the millions of Colombians displaced by war.
"The only truly common elements in the totality of America's foreign bases are imperialism and militarism - an impulse on the part of our elites to dominate other peoples largely because we have the power to do so."
- Chalmers Johnson, former CIA Consultant, Prof. Emeritus University of California
February 27-March 2
American University, Washington, DC
Many of us have a new sense of hope as we think about new possibilities in the Obama years. We also understand that if we and the world are to get the changes we need, we need to learn more and step up our organizing. This certainly applies to U.S. and international efforts to close the foreign military bases that make wars from Afghanistan and Iraq to Colombia and the Philippines possible, oppress "host" nations and communities, and divert our tax dollars from addressing essential human needs.
This inter-active conference will feature workshops, presentations by international and local activists, planning for action, lobby skills session, a Pentagon vigil and Congressional advocacy.
Who replaces General Montoya?
4 November 2008
Colombian Army commander Mario Montoya resigned today, in the wake of a scandal over army killings of civilians that a United Nations official on Saturday called “widespread and systematic.” A protégé of the United States, Montoya was an architect of the “body count” counterinsurgency strategy that many analysts believe led to the systematic civilian killings. His record is full of reports of collaboration with paramilitary units, from the 1970s into the 2000s.