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Home About Us Equipo Sur South-North Encuentro Colombia - Enrique Daza - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates
Colombia - Enrique Daza - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates PDF Print E-mail

2010 Encuentro Country Updates

COLOMBIA

By ENRIQUE DAZA
Alianza Social Continetal
Red Colombiana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio

Beginning in 1998, Colombia became -with the exception of countries in the Middle East- the country that received the most military aid from the United States, being the third country after Israel and Egypt.  In 2009, aid rose to $300 million USD, four times the budget given to public universities.  In total, since 1999, aid has surpassed $6 billion USD.  Although aid has been decreasing since 2007 and a decrease in $55 million USD was approved for 2011, this "aid" has not decreased the serious violence indices, and on the contrary, during the period of its implementation, Colombia reported the largest human rights violations and between 3-4 million people were displaced from their land.  The army, which has received this aid, is responsible for "false positives."  This has led Democratic senators Patrick Leahy, Chris Dodd, and Russ Fiengold to send a letter requesting a decrease in military aid.  The Colombian military is the second largest military in Latin America after that of Brazil.  Investigations have concluded that the amount of hectares cultivated for cocoa has not decreased, nor has violence decreased.  In this sense and due to the intense United States cooperation with the politics of Uribe's government (cooperation has increased during Uribe's two terms in office), the United States is complicit in all politics and results of the Uribe administration.

Although Colombia was considered the United States' greatest ally in the hemisphere under the Bush administration, Hilary Clinton's recent comments during her visit to Colombia show that this is a national policy, and not the policy of a particular political party.

Although there have been occasional critiques on issues such as reelection, false positives, and telephone interception, everything indicates that the United States supports this situation and/or it has remained silent and has supported the principle policies of Uribe.

The human rights situation is particularly serious, not only because human rights continue to be violated on an everyday basis and because of outrageous statistics, but also because the executive protects violators of these rights.  Judicial processes that serve justice and protect victims are criticized.

Within this context, the announcement that the United States government has been authorized to use seven military bases on Colombian territory, is a continuation and expansion of these policies.

The social movements that have suffered repression and are victims of these policies have resisted at a national and international level and have been part of important fights.  Dozens of mobilizations by social movements and by people affected by violence, have allowed for important victories to be won, which are reflected in the judicial processes that have brought high-ranking government officials and dozens of Uribe-supporting parlamentarians to jail.  This would not have been possible without mobilizations and national and international public denouncements.

Nevertheless, although public complaints concerning human rights have been important and successful, it is important to think about what Colombia means to the United States. Plan Colombia has served a complementary role to the Free Trade Treaty and has been fundamental to maintaining and increasing a neoliberal model based in large part on land, control by financial groups, and large-scale mining.  It is necessary to better articulate our fight against all these things.

International solidarity plays a fundamental role in this process. The isolation of the Colombian government and the isolation of its successor Juan Manuel Santos, who has direct ties to these policies, will continue to play an important role.

The strengthening of these processes of autonomous integration like Unasur, the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean countries, or ALBA, serve to counterweight the tendencies of the Colombian government.

The implications of the installation of the new U.S. military bases, is important because it holds a lot of significance from the point of view of United States strategy, but also because it has violated all constitutional requirements and represents the greatest injury to Colombian sovereignty, following the Panamanian intervention. It also constitutes a great challenge to democratic processes on the continent.  Social organizations in Colombia have begun to challenge this decision, due to its fundamental violation -in terms of content and execution- of the National Constitution.

 

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