Did U.S. Mercenaries Bomb the FARC Encampment in Ecuador?

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, March 23, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

As diplomatic and military fallout from the March 1 Colombian raid into Ecuador escalate regional tensions, allegations from Ecuadorean sources link the unprovoked attack to the U.S. Manta airbase and charge the American mercenary firm DynCorp with piloting the planes that killed FARC commander Raúl Reyes and 24 others.

According to investigative journalist Kintto Lucas,

A high-level Ecuadorean military officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told IPS that “a large proportion of senior officers” in Ecuador share “the conviction that the United States was an accomplice in the attack” launched Mar. 1 by the Colombian military on a FARC…camp in Ecuador, near the Colombian border.

“Since Plan Colombia was launched in 2000, a strategic alliance between the United States and Colombia has taken shape, first to combat the insurgents and later to involve neighbouring countries in that war,” said the officer. “What is happening today is a consequence of that.” (“Ecuador: Manta Air Base Tied to Colombian Raid on FARC Camp,” Inter Press Service, March 21, 2008)

 

Ecuadorean Defense Minister Wellington Sandoval said an investigation into whether the Manta airbase was used in the attack should be carried out by Ecuador’s armed forces. According to the leasing agreement, the Manta base can only be used for counternarcotics operations.

While U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell assured Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Isabel Salvador that the planes at Manta “were not involved in any way,” the military source told the IPS reporter that “the technology used, first to locate the target, in other words the camp, and later to attack it, was from the United States.”

Sandoval had earlier said that “equipment that the Latin American armed forces do not have” was used in the Mar. 1 bombing, according to Lucas.

Commenting on the tactical modalities employed in the raid, Sandoval said,

“They dropped around five ‘smart bombs’,” the kind used by the United States in the First Gulf War (1991), “with impressive precision and a margin of error of just one metre, at night, from planes travelling at high speeds,” said the minister.

The military source said that “an attack with smart bombs requires pilots who have experience in such operations, which means U.S. pilots. That’s why I think they did the job and later told the Colombians ‘now go in and find the bodies’, which is when Colombian helicopters and troops showed up” at the site of the raid.

The U.S. role in the raid could have been even greater. The officer claimed that the bombing raid was actually led by “U.S. pilots, possibly from DynCorp.” While demonstrable evidence for these explosive charges has yet to surface, the statements by the Ecuadorean officer seem plausible, particularly when one considers the role played by American military- and mercenary personnel in coordinating Plan Colombia.

Claiming that the aircraft “took off from the Tres Esquinas air base in the southern Colombian department of Caquetá,” the officer went on to describe how “the planes used to fumigate coca crops or to attack the guerrillas are piloted by serving members of the U.S. military or (former) military men at the service of companies like DynCorp.”

More than $5.5 billion dollars has been poured into the region by the United States since 2000, allegedly for “counternarcotics operations.” A key strategic goal of America’s “war on drugs” is to take the “battle” to the source–coca growing, processing and exporting Andean nations, and DynCorp has been a major beneficiary of U.S. largess in the area.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa warned on Saturday that diplomatic tension with Colombia will rise “if an Ecuadorean was among the dead,” in the March 1 raid Reuters has reported. “It would be extremely grave if it is proven that a Ecuadorean died. We will not let this murder go unpunished.”

Citing Uribe’s “dodgy dossier,” the Associated Press claims “that the FARC gave money to Correa’s 2006 presidential campaign.” Without skipping a beat, or apparently examining the files, denounced as forgeries by investigative journalist Greg Palast who actually did, the AP reporter avers, again citing Uribe that “Correa’s ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, planned to give the rebels US$300 million.”

As a key “private partner” of Plan Colombia, DynCorp’s aerial spraying of herbicides over portions of the Colombian countryside has caused wide-spread ecological damage with no discernible diminution of the flow of narcotics into Europe and the United States.

Indeed, according to a February 2008 report published by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), “intensive aerial herbicide spraying of coca crops in Colombia has backfired badly, contributing to the spread of coca cultivation and cocaine production to new areas of the country and threatening human health and the environment.” The WOLA report, citing UN figures, goes on to describe how cocaine production in Colombia has risen from 617 metric tons in 2001 to 640 metric tons in 2005, a wretched failure considering the inestimable cost in human lives and habitat destruction.

Since 2002, congressional authorization for the program has permitted “counternarcotics” funds to be siphoned-off into scorched-earth counterinsurgency operations by the Colombian Army and their paramilitary allies. Some 300 U.S. Special Forces “advisors” serve as “mentors” to elite Army units in what has become another front in the U.S.-led “war on terror.”

Analyst Doug Stokes describes how Plan Colombia has morphed into an all-out war against Colombia’s left-wing opposition:

In the case of Colombia, civil society organizations, especially those that seek to challenge prevailing socio-economic conditions, are construed by the U.S. government as potentially subversive to the social and political order, and in the context of counter-insurgency, legitimate targets for “paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist” attack. [T]he 1991 post-Cold War U.S. reorganization of Colombian military and paramilitary networks and the massive levels of post-Cold War U.S. funding of the Colombian military serves to underline the continued relevance of counterinsurgency for destroying movements that may threaten a stability geared towards U.S. interests. (“The U.S. War of Terror in Colombia, Colombia Journal, December 2, 2002)

The controversial mercenary outfit, like its better-known cousin, Blackwater, has a dodgy history and has been fingered by investigators in human rights and other abuses in countries where it operates.

According to a CorpWatch profile,

DynCorp began in 1946 as a project of a small group of returning World War II pilots seeking to use their military contacts to make a living in the air cargo business. Named California Eastern Airways the original company was soon airlifting supplies to Asia used in the Korean War. By 2002 Dyncorp, headquartered in Reston, Virginia, was the nation’s 13th largest military contractor with $2.3 billion in revenue until it merged with Computer Sciences Corporation, an El Segundo, California-based technology services company, in an acquisition worth nearly $1 billion.

The company is not short on controversy. Under the Plan Colombia contract, the company has 88 aircraft and 307 employees–139 of them American–flying missions to eradicate coca fields in Colombia. Soldier of Fortune magazine once ran a cover story on DynCorp, proclaiming it “Colombia’s Coke-Bustin’ Broncos.” (“CSC/DynCorp,” Company Profiles, CorpWatch, no date)

 

While attempting to fly below the public radar, DynCorp’s questionable Plan Colombia operations surfaced when a group of Ecuadorean peasants filed a class action lawsuit against the outfit in 2001. The suit alleges that herbicides spread by DynCorp aircraft in Colombia drifted across the border, killing their crops and causing widespread livestock and human illnesses; in several cases, aerial fumigation led to the death of several children.

Washington responded by attempting to have the suit squashed. According to CorpWatch, “Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers intervened in the case right away telling the judge the lawsuit posed ‘a grave risk to US national security and foreign policy objectives.'”

In a 2001 article profiling DynCorp’s Latin American operations, investigative reporter Jeremy Bigwood wrote,

DynCorp’s day to day operations are overseen by a secretive clique of officials in the State Department’s Narcotic Affairs Section (NAS) and the State Department’s Air Wing, a group that includes unreformed cold warriors and leftovers from the Central American wars of the 1980’s. Working hand-in-hand with U.S. military officials, Narcotic Affairs is supposed to be part of the drug war only, running the fumigation operations against drug crops. But there are indications that it is also involved in the counter-insurgency. In areas that are targeted for fumigation by Narcotic Affairs, Colombian right-wing paramilitaries arrive, sometimes by military helicopter, according to a human rights worker living in the Putumayo who asked for anonymity. Members of these paramilitaries “clear the ground” so that the planes spraying herbicides, often piloted by Americans, are not shot at by angry farmers or insurgents. (“DynCorp in Colombia: Outsourcing the Drug War,” CorpWatch, May 23, 2001)

Whether or not DynCorp pilots bombed Ecuador on behalf of America’s ally, the paramilitary-linked regime of Colombian president Álvaro Uribe, it is clear the United States will not willingly relinquish the Manta airbase when its lease expires in November 2009.

In 2001, a retired Ecuadorean army colonel, Fausto Cobo, told IPS that “Manta, for the purposes of Plan Colombia is a U.S. aircraft carrier, on land.”

As one of four “forward operating locations (FOLs), along with Curaçao, Aruba and El Salvador, Manta is a critical strategic base for U.S. “counternarcotics” and “counterinsurgency” operations in Latin America–and as a possible launching pad for an attack on Venezuela.

While the furor surrounding Colombia’s allegations against Ecuador and Venezuela may have fallen off the media’s radar, congressional efforts to have Venezuela declared “a state sponsor of terrorism,” have not.

In Latin America, the “public-private partnership” in repression with well-paid mercenary outfits like DynCorp taking the lead, it is a near certainty that incidents like the March 1 raid will continue as Washington seeks to shore-up the periphery of its shrinking imperialist empire.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8423

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$300 Million From Chavez To FARC A Fake By Greg Palast

Bush versus Chavez by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, March 17, 2008

Imagine the following – the nation Martin Luther King called “The Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World Today” may brand democratic Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism if extremist lawmakers on the Hill get their way.

On March 12, George Bush accused Hugo Chavez of backing Colombian-based “terrorists” and using Venezuela’s oil wealth for an anti-American campaign. He further claimed Chavez has a “thirst for power….of squander(ing his country’s) oil wealth….of prais(ing a) terrorist leader as a good revolutionary and order(ing) his troops to the Colombian border. This is the latest step in a disturbing pattern of provocative behavior by the regime in Caracas. He has also called for FARC terrorists to be recognized as a legitimate army (and his) senior regime officials have met with FARC leaders in Venezuela.”

At the same time, 21 extremist lawmakers want Venezuela named a state sponsor of terrorism and added to the State Department’s list of five others for “repeatedly provid(ing) support for acts of international terrorism” under three US laws:

— the Export Administration Act, section 6 (j);

— the Arms Export Control Act, section 40; and

— the Foreign Assistance Act, section 620A.

Countries now listed include – Syria (1979), Cuba (1982), Iran (1984), North Korea (1988), and Sudan (1993). Designation triggers sanctions that “penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”

The US Code Definition of Terrorism

The US Code defines “international terrorism” as follows:

(A) “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended –

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States….”

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the definition to be “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature….through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.”

The US Definition of War Crimes – Part I, Chapter 118, Number 2441 of the US Code

(a) “Offense. – Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

(b) Circumstances. – The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

(c) Definition. – As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct –

(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any Protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.”

Two Hemispheric Neighbors Worlds Apart

Under US terrorism and war crimes statutes as well as by any international standard, the US is a flagrant and serial abuser. The record is hardly disputable in spite of efforts made to sanitize it.

In contrast, Hugo Chavez seeks unity; wants stability; embraces his neighbors; and promotes global solidarity, equality and political, economic and social justice quite mirror opposite to Washington’s conquest and imperial agenda. Unlike America, Venezuela doesn’t attack or threaten other nations. It offers no-strings aid (including low-priced oil to US cities) and mutually beneficial trade and other alliances.

Chavez champions human rights, has no secret prisons, doesn’t practice torture or state-sponsored killings, respects the law and everyone’s rights under it. He’s a true social democrat in a participatory democracy, and has been elected and reelected overwhelmingly under procedures independently judged open, free and fair. That’s what Bolivarianism is about, but try hearing that from Washington or the dominant media using any pretext to vilify it and the man who leads it.

Chavez is a hero in the region and around the world, and that makes him Washington’s target. Imagine the Bush administration matching his December 31 gesture or the media reporting it fairly. He granted amnesty to imprisoned 2002 coup plotters, except for those who fled the country. The decree pardoned figures accused in the scheme, who took over state television at the time, who tried to murder him in recent years, and who later sabotaged state oil company PDVSA during the 2002 – 2003 management lockout. He also pardoned 36 other prisoners in a conciliatory measure to turn “the page (and direct the) country….toward peace.”

In a post-9/11 environment, here’s how Washington rewards him:

— he’s relentlessly targeted by measures that so far stop short of disrupting business;

— on December 11, three Venezuelans and one Uruguayan were arrested and charged in US federal court with acting and conspiring as agents of the Venezuelan government without having notified the US Attorney General; they were accused of conspiring to conceal the source, destination and role of the Venezuelan government to deliver $800,000 to Argentina with a US businessman as conduit;

— on November, 2007, by conspiring with Colombia to halt mediation efforts with the FARC-EP for the release of 45 hostages at the time, including three US contractors;

— for repeatedly denying Venezuela’s extradition request for Luis Posada Carriles who’s wanted for outstanding crimes and in spite of a legally-binding extradition treaty between the countries dating since 1923;

— on November 5, for approving H. Res. 435 EH (by voice vote) condemning Iran as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism;” it also targeted Venezuela with examples of relations between the two countries that are hostile to Washington;

— on September 14, 2007, citing Venezuela for the third consecutive year for failing to observe international counternarcotics agreements;

— on June 21, for approving representative Connie Mack’s H. Amdt. to H.R. 2764 to direct $10 million for propaganda broadcasting into Venezuela;

— on June 12, the State Department targeted Venezuela in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that placed the country in Tier 3 status for not making adequate efforts to combat trafficking in persons;

— on May 24, for unanimously approving S. Res. 211 condemning Venezuela’s disregard for free expression for not renewing (one of) RCTV’s operating licenses;

— on May 14, for the second consecutive year, condemning Venezuela for not fully cooperating in antiterrorism efforts; other nations listed were Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria;

— on April 30, the State Department condemned Venezuela for being unwilling to prevent the country’s territory from being used as a safe haven by Colombian “terrorist groups;”

— on March 6, the State Department cited Venezuela’s human rights situation showed “politicization of the judiciary, harassment of the media, and harassment of the political opposition;”

— on March 1, the State Department condemned Venezuela for being one of the principal hemispheric drug transit countries because of its location, rampant high-level corruption, weak judicial system, and lack of international counternarcotics cooperation;

— on February 7, Secretary Rice accused Chavez of “assault(ing) democracy in Venezuela (and) destroying his own country economically (and) politically;” and

— on January 11, National Intelligence Director (and serial killer) John Negroponte accused Chavez of being “among the most stridently anti-American leaders anywhere in the world (whose) try(ing) to undercut US influence in Venezuela, in the rest of Latin America, and elsewhere internationally;” he also said his military purchases were threatening his neighbors and could fuel a regional arms race.

The above examples only covered 2007 with many comparable and more extreme ones in earlier years. Excluded as well are continuing covert actions with open-checkbook funding to destabilize and topple the Chavez government. One of them is what Latin American expert James Petras mentions in his March 12 article on the FARC-EP and “The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives.” He explains that Chavez’s diplomatic rapprochement with Uribe won’t halt “large-scale (Columbian) paramilitary (infiltration into) Venezuela (that) destabiliz(e) the country” because Washington wants it continued.

So far, actions have stopped short of disrupting business, but anything is possible before January 2009 or thereafter. Washington fears Chavismo’s good example. It’s strengthening, spreading and creating angst in American hard right circles and for Democrats as well.

Charges and Countercharges

The March 13 Wall Street Journal reported that US intelligence officials have been examining “computer files (claimed to have been) seized from (FARC-EP) guerrillas earlier this month by Colombian commandos.” The Uribe government (with no supportive evidence) says they show Chavez “was in contact with the rebels and plann(ed) to give them $300 million. If true, that could open Venezuela to US sanctions,” but Washington will likely use lesser measures instead.

White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe gave no indication either way in stating: “Our intelligence agencies are looking at the material acquired….and we will see where that lands.” Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said: “Declaring somebody a state sponsor of terrorism is a big step, a serious step. It’s one that we will only take after very careful consideration of all the evidence.” For her part, Secretary Rice was true to form adding: “it is an obligation of every member of the United Nations…not to support terrorists.”

There was more as well from an unidentified senior US official who said government lawyers were asked to clarify “what goes into effect in terms of prohibitions or prohibited activities” when a “state sponsor” designation is made. He added that if Washington accepts the computer documents as valid, then “I think it will beg the question of whether or not Venezuela, given Chavez’s interactions with the FARC, has….crossed the threshold of state sponsor of terror.”

Former State Department arms trafficking expert, James Lewis, explained further. He said “state sponsor” (designation) immediately imposes (restrictions) on the abilities of US companies to work in” the country. They’ll be “forbidden from operating there, forbidden from receiving any money from Venezuela. It would make it very hard for Venezuela to sell oil to the US. All the arrangements we have now where Venezuelan oil is routinely sent to the United States would have to stop.” Lewis stopped short of speculating this will happen, but his tone suggests it’s unlikely. Corporate interests would also balk because business in Venezuela is booming, so are profits, and at a time companies are struggling for every source they can get.

That wasn’t on Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s mind in her March 10 Wall Street Journal column. She was all venom and agitprop in her commentary on “The FARC Files – Four presidents (Chavez, Correa, Morales and Ortega), four best friends of terrorists.” She claimed laptop documents “show that Mr. Chavez and (FARC-EP leader) Reyes were not only ideological comrades, but also business partners and political allies in the effort to wrest power from Mr. Uribe.” She also attacked the FARC-EP with a menu of charges, including efforts to buy 50 kilos of uranium for a possible dirty bomb and a (mysterious) letter explaining “terrorist efforts to acquire missiles from Lebanon.” And she jumped on four regional leaders for “support(ing) FARC violence and treachery against Mr. Uribe.”

On the same page, a Journal editorial referred to the “Venezuelan strongman” and “Chavez Democrats” who help “our enemy by spurning our best Latin ally,” and it “isn’t the first time Democrats have (done it), but it would be the most destructive.” The reference is to the Colombia (US) Free Trade Agreement. It’s stalled in Congress and likely dead this session with Democrats not wanting to touch it in an election year – unless they can cut a deal with the administration for something they want.

The Journal blasts them and Jimmy Carter, too, for blessing Chavez’s 2004 electoral victory. It then claimed Democrats “oppose the deal on grounds that Mr. Uribe has not done more to protect ‘trade unionists.’ In fact, Mr. Uribe has done more to reduce violence in Colombia than any modern leader in Bogota. The real question for Democrats is whether they’re going to choose Colombia – or Hugo Chavez.” And the beat goes on with 10 more months under George Bush for it to boil over and plenty of media support heating things up.

In the face of criticism, Caracas wasn’t quiet. Reaction was swift with Venezuela’s OAS representative, Jorge Valero, calling the administration “the terrorist government par excellence….an aberration, an absolutely stupid thing to say (by a government in Washington) that practices state terrorism, that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law, that commits genocidal practices (around) the world, that has invaded Latin American and Caribbean countries, that aims to present itself as the moral conscience of the world.”

Venezuela’s Information Minister, Andres Izarra, added that US officials are considering measures against Venezuela because “they are searching for new ways to attack….and move forward with their plan to finish with the Bolivarian Revolution.”

In a March 14 televised speech, Hugo Chavez dared the Bush administration to designate Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism. He said doing it is Washington’s response to the country’s success and added: “We shouldn’t forget for an instant that we’re in a battle against North American imperialism and that they have classified us as enemies – at least in this continent they have us as enemy No. 1.” Their “imperial plan is to overthrow this government and knock down the Bolivarian Revolution. They’re afraid of (its impact in) Latin America” (and, indeed, he’s right).

As for allegedly paying $300 million to the FARC-EP, the Venezuelan government denounced the claim as an “exercise in falsification (and added) that the only foreign government that finances the conflict in Colombia is the United States.” Caracas also affirms that its only guerrilla contacts were for hostage releases with key peace interlocutor Reyes now dead because of Colombia’s (made in USA) incursion.

Other countries have also negotiated, including France, Ecuador and the US as recently declassified documents show. In 1998, Philip Chicola, State Department Office of Andean Affairs director, met secretly in Costa Rica with FARC-EP leaders Reyes and Olga Marin after Secretary of State Albright designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997.

In the end, where will this lead with views on that score mixed. Venezuela is America’s third or fourth largest oil supplier, the price of crude now tops $100 a barrel, and the Wall Street Journal suggests measures far short of cutting off a vital supply source are likely. Other analysts agree because ending trade would harm both countries at a time world markets are roiled and the US economy is shaky.

Nonetheless, Republican congressman Connie Mack says Chavez “is using his vast oil wealth to fund terrorism in his own backyard (and it’s) critical that the administration now act swiftly and decisively” against him. On March 13, he and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced H. Res.10-49 (with eight co-sponsors) “calling for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism” and “condemn(ing) the Venezuelan government for its support of terrorist organizations” with direct reference to the FARC-EP.

Even with support in Congress, this effort won’t likely get far according to Venezuelan expert Dan Hellinger. He notes how anti-Chavez forces are capitalizing on events but says “the odds are against them precisely because I think there’s probably not much interest in the Congress (overall) in terms of making things worse with Venezuela at the moment.” Key State Department diplomats aren’t “likely….to want to pour gasoline on the fire” or take any action that may harm the economy in an election year and on an issue that’s mainly an administration one – and a lame duck one on the way out.

Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue went further in suggesting Latin American leaders won’t tolerate designating Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism and “would react very strongly, because of all the political, security, and economic implications.”

It remains to be seen what’s next, but Chavez knows what he’s up against from a rogue administration in Washington with lots of time left to destroy Bolivarianism, oust its main proponent, vaporize Venezuela, and end the republic if that’s what it has in mind. Stay tuned for further updates in Bush v. Chavez.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research New Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8355


The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8363

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Latin America rejects Bush doctrine by Federico Fuentes

FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, 9/11 victims (video)

Latin America rejects Bush doctrine by Federico Fuentes

Dandelion Salad

by Federico Fuentes
Global Research, March 16, 2008

Reeling from the blow that it received in the aftermath of the Colombian military’s illegal incursion on March 1 into Ecuador — which resulted in the brutal massacre of a number of civilians and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including its chief negotiator Raul Reyes — US imperialism has once again raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the growing process of Latin American integration.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez whose government is spearheading the push to unite Latin American nations to counter US domination, is being specifically targeted.

“The region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support democratic leaders”, US President George Bush stated on March 12. Bush said his government was studying whether or not Venezuela should be added to its list of countries that “sponsor terrorism”.

In Washington’s Orwellian world view — where war is peace and elected leaders are dictators — his comments were aimed at Venezuela’s democratically-elected government that is offering its services to assist with a negotiated peaceful solution to Colombia’s more than four decade-long civil war.

Venezuela’s representative in the Organization of American States (OAS), Jorge Valero, hit back that same day, calling the US government “the terrorist government par excellence”.

Valero argued it was “an absolutely stupid thing to say from the government of Mr Bush … that practices state terrorism, that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law, that commits genocidal practices in various parts of the world, that has invaded Latin American and Caribbean countries …”

Having viewed Latin America as its own backyard for decades, Washington is becoming increasingly concerned about developments south of its border. Its biggest headache is Venezuela, whose government has been making important headway in bring together governments of Latin America, as well as undermining capitalism inside Venezuela.

Washington has waged a constant public campaign (similar to its campaign against Iraq before the invasion) attempting to link Venezuela with narcotrafficking, terrorism, promoting an arms race, money laundering and threats to regional security.

US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger argued on the Venezuelan TV show La Hojilla that this campaign is aimed at containing Chavez’s influence and undermining Latin American integration — a process aided by the election of a number of governments that, to varying degrees, have proven willing to exercise independence from Washington and pursue closer regional collaboration.

For Dario Azzellini, author of several books about US military intervention into the region, Colombia’s illegal cross-border attack (publicly supported by the US government, which funds and arms the Colombian military) was the first step in carrying out more serious military infractions across its border in order to provoke a response from Venezuela and lay the blame for the subsequent conflict at their feet.

“Their aim is to create massive destabilisation in a region where Colombia would play a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East”, Azzellini told Green Left Weekly.

“The Colombian government said that they had the coordinates of Reyes whereabouts for month, during which we can suppose that he moved between Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory as part of the current negotiations by the FARC in releasing prisoners. So the question is why did they choose to carry it out in Ecuador?

“It was a test, they wanted to do it in Ecuadorian territory and not in Venezuela to see what the international reaction would be.”

Luis Bilbao, director of Latin American magazine America XXI, told GLW US imperialism had two aims in mind with Colombia’s attack (which was clearly coordinated with the US) — put a halt to the hopes for humanitarian accord with the FARC, who only days before had released four prisoners unilaterally, and sabotage the growing South American convergence.

Finding a political solution to Colombia’s current conflict is a danger to Washington, which has used it as justification to build up their military presence in Colombia. This is why the issue of peace in Colombia is so closely intertwined with the process of Latin American integration.

Colombia’s attack came just days before global protests in favour of a peaceful solution to Colombia’s civil war and against state and paramilitary violence, which targets political activists, with more trade unionists killed in Colombia every year than any other country. On March 6, hundreds of thousands marched across Colombia, defying threats of reprisals from paramilitaries.

Associated Press reported on March 14 that six organisers of the march had been murdered, and two dozen more received death threats from the Black Eagles death squad.

Moreover, Bilbao pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of this event, it seemed unthinkable that the meeting of the South American Community of Nations (Unasur, formed in April 2002 with the aim of creating a European Union-style body across South America) that had been scheduled to take place in Colombia at the end of the month could have gone ahead.

Such a turn of events would suit Washington, as the development of Unasur threatens the ability of the US to exert its control over the region on behalf of US corporate interests.

Bilbao argued that the action was nonetheless a big mistake on the part of Colombia. Bilbao argued that “they didn’t attack Venezuela”, as Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro had stated Venezuela expected, “because of the firm stance that Venezuela has taken and instead attacked Ecuador expecting a timid response … setting a precedent for further repeat actions in Ecuador and to extend this to Venezuela”.

However the firm stance by both Ecuador and Venezuela — both of whose governments broke diplomatic ties and moved troops to their Colombian borders — put Colombia on the back foot.

In fact, rather than reverse the trend towards integration, the response to Colombia’s attack could mark an important regional realignment — assisting the process of regional integration.

The most significant event was the summit of the Group of Rio held on March 6 and 7. Televised live across the whole continent, representatives of all Latin American governments debated the issue without the presence of the US government.

After a fiery debate, the meeting came to a unanimous decision to reject the actions of the Colombian government and any further violation of the sovereignty of another country. Crucially, the vote was a rejection of the doctrine of “preventive war” that the US has pushed since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ecuador and Colombia are pushing for the March 17 meeting of the OAS (of which the US is a member) to ratify the Group of Rio’s motion. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has stated bluntly that if the OAS meeting did not condemn the aggression, that it should be thrown “in the dustbin of history”.

Arguing that it would be “difficult for the US government to oppose such a resolution”, Valero asserted that “I don’t believe the United States has sufficient strength to crush the will of the Rio Group countries”.

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© Copyright Federico Fuentes, Global Research, 2008
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FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, March 16, 2008

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP): The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives 

President Uribe’s troop and missile assault, violating Ecuadorian sovereignty came very close to precipitating a regional war with Ecuador and Venezuela. During an interview I had with President Chavez, at the time of this bellicose act, he confirmed to me the gravity of Uribe’s doctrine of ‘preventive war’ and ‘extra-territorial intervention’, calling the Colombian regime the ‘Israel of Latin America’. Earlier, during his Sunday radio program ‘Alo Presidente’, in which I was an invited guest, he followed up with an announcement that he was sending ground, air and sea forces to the Venezuelan frontier with Colombia.

Uribe’s cross-border attack was meant to probe the political ‘will’ of Ecuador and Venezuela to respond to military aggression, as well as to test the performance of US-coordinated remote, satellite directed missile attack. There is no doubt also that Uribe aimed to scuttle the imminent humanitarian release of FARC prisoner, Ingrid Betancourt, being negotiated by the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, Ecuador’s Interior Minister Larrea, the Colombian Red Cross and especially Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Kouchner, Larrea and Chavez were in direct contact with FARC’s leader, Raul Reyes who, along with 22 others, including non-combatants of various nationalities, were assassinated in Ecuador by Uribe’s American-coordinated missile and ground attack. Uribe’s military intervention was in part directed at denying the important diplomatic role, which Chavez was playing in the release FARC-held prisoners, in contrast to the failure of Uribe’s military efforts to ‘free the prisoners’.

Raul Reyes was recognized as the legitimate interlocutor in these negotiations by both European and Latin American governments, as well as the Red Cross; if the negotiations succeeded in the prisoner release it was likely that the same governments and humanitarian bodies would pressure Uribe to open comprehensive prisoner exchange and peace negotiations with the FARC, which was contrary to Bush and Uribes’ policy of unrelenting warfare, political assassinations and scorched earth policies.

What was at stake in Uribe’s violating Ecuadorian sovereignty and murdering 22 FARC guerrillas and Mexican visitors was nothing less than the entire military counter-insurgency strategy, which has been pursued by Uribe since coming to office in 2002.

Uribe was clearly willing to risk what eventually happened – the censure and sanction of the Organization of American States and the (temporary) break in relations with Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua. He did so because he could count on Washington’s backing, which covertly (and illegally) participated in and immediately applauded the attack. That was more important than jeopardizing cooperation with Latin American nations and France. Colombia remains Washington’s military forward shield in Latin America and, in particular, it is the most important politico-military instrument to destabilize and overthrow the anti-imperialist Chavez government. Clinton and Bush have invested over $6 billion dollars in military aid to Colombia over the past 7 years, including sending 1500 military advisers and Special Forces, dozens of Israeli commandos and ‘trainers’, funding over 2000 mercenary fighters and over 10,000 paramilitary forces working closely with the 200,000-man strong Colombian Armed Forces.

Notwithstanding these and other international considerations, influencing Uribe’s extra-territorial ‘act of war’, I would argue that the main consideration in this attack on the FARC campsite in Ecuador was to decapitate, weaken and isolate the most powerful guerrilla movement in Latin America and the most uncompromising opponent to Washington and Bogotá’s repressive neo-liberal policies. International politicians, including progressive leaders like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa, who have called for the end of armed struggle, seem to overlook the recent experiences of FARC efforts to de-militarize the struggle, including three peace initiatives (1984-1990), (1999-2001) and (2007-2008) and the heavy costs to the FARC in terms of the killing of key leaders, activists and sympathizers. During the mid-1980’s many leaders of the FARC joined the electoral process, formed a political party – the Patriotic Union. The scores of successfully elected local and national officeholders and…5,000 of their members, leaders, congress-people and three presidential candidates were slaughtered. The FARC returned to the countryside and guerrilla struggle. Ten years later, the FARC agreed to negotiate with then President Pastrana in a demilitarized zone. The FARC held public forums, discussed policy alternatives for social and political reforms to democratize the state and debated private versus public ownership of strategic economic sectors with diverse sectors in ‘civil society’. President Pastrana, under pressure from US President Clinton and later Bush, abruptly broke off negotiations and sent the armed forces in to capture the FARC’s high level negotiating teams. The US-funded and advised Colombian military failed to capture the FARC leaders but set the stage for the scorched earth policies pursued by paramilitary President Uribe.

In 2007-2008, the FARC offered to negotiate the mutual release of political prisoners in a secure demilitarized zone in Colombia. Uribe refused. President Chavez entered into negotiations as a mediator. The French government and others challenged Chavez to ask for ‘evidence’ that the FARC prisoners were alive. The FARC complied with Chavez request. It sent three emissaries who were intercepted and are being detained by the Colombian military under brutal conditions. Still the FARC continued with Chavez request and attempted to relocate the first set of prisoners to be turned over to the Red Cross and Venezuelan officials – but they came under aerial attack by Uribe’s armed forces thus aborting the release. Still later, under increased risk, they were able to release the first batch of captives. The French Foreign Minister Kouchner and Chavez made new requests for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian national and former presidential candidate. This was sabotaged when Uribe, with high-level US technical assistance, launched a major military offensive throughout the country, including a comprehensive monitoring program, tracing communications between Reyes, Chavez, Kouchner, Larrea and the Red Cross.

It was this high-risk role played by Reyes as the highest level FARC official involved in the negotiations and coordination for captive release that led to his assassination. Outside pressures for a unilateral release of prisoners caused the FARC to lower their security. The result was the loss of leaders, negotiators, sympathizers and militants – without securing the release of any of their 500 comrades held in Colombian prisons. The entire emphasis of Sarkozy, Chavez, Correa and others demanded unilateral concessions from the FARC – as if their own tortured and dying comrades in Uribe’s jails were not part of any humanitarian consideration.

The subsequent summit in the Dominican Republic during the weekend of March 8-9 led to a condemnation of Colombia’s violation of Ecuador’s territorial sovereignty, but the Uribe government, responsible for the invasion, was not actually named or officially sanctioned. Moreover, no mention was made (let alone respect shown) for the treacherously assassinated leader, Raul Reyes, whose life was lost in pursuit of a humanitarian exchange. If the meeting itself was a disappointing response to a tragedy, the aftermath was a farce: a smiling Uribe, walked across the meeting hall and offered a hand shake and perfunctory apology to Correa and Chavez, while Nicaraguan President Ortega embraced the murderous leader of Colombia. By that vile and cynical gesture, Uribe turned the entire military mobilization and weeklong denunciations by Chavez and Correa into a comic opera. The post-meeting ‘reconciliation’ gave the appearance that their opposition to a cross-border attack and the cold-blooded murder of Reyes was merely political theater – a bad omen for the future if, as is likely, Uribe repeats his cross border attacks on an even larger scale. Will the people of Venezuela or Ecuador and the armed forces take serious another call for mobilization and readiness?

Less than a week after the Santa Domingo ‘reconciliation’ meeting, Chavez and Uribe renewed an earlier military agreement to cooperate against ‘violent groups whatever their origins’. Clearly Chavez hopes that by dissociating Venezuela from any suspicion of providing moral support to the FARC, Uribe will stop the large-scale flow of paramilitary infiltrators from entering Venezuela and destabilizing the country. In other words, ‘reasons of state’ take precedence over solidarity with the FARC. What should be clear to Chavez however is the fact that Uribe will not abide by his side of the agreement because of his ties to Washington, and the latter’s insistence that the Chavez government be destabilized by any or all means, including the continued infiltration by Colombian paramilitary forces into Venezuela.

Uribe could apologize to Correa and Chavez because the real purpose of his military attack was to destroy the FARC leadership, any way, any place, any time and under any circumstance – even in the midst of international negotiations. Washington placed a $5 million dollar bounty on each and every member of the FARC secretariat, long before Chavez or Correa came to power, Washington’s top priority – as witnessed by its military aid programs ($6 billion dollars in 7 years), size and scope of its military advisory mission (1500 US specialists) and the length of its involvement in counter-insurgency activities within Colombia (45 years) – was to destroy the FARC.

Washington and its Colombian surrogates were willing to incur the predictable displeasure of Correa, Chavez and the slap on the wrist by the OAS if they could succeed in killing the Number Two commander of the FARC. The reason is clear: it is the FARC and not the neighboring leaders, who influence a third of Colombia’s countryside; it is the FARC’s military-political power which ties down a third of Colombia’s armed forces and prevents Colombia from engaging in any major military intervention against Chavez at the behest of Washington. Uribe and Washington have pressured Correa into cutting most of the FARC’s logistical supply lines and many security camps on the Ecuadorian-Colombian border. Correa claims to have destroyed 11 FARC campsites and arrested 11 guerrillas. The Venezuelan National Guard has turned a blind eye to Colombian cross border military pursuit of FARC activists and sympathizers among the Colombian refugee-peasantry camped along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Uribe and Washington’s pressure has forced Chavez to publicly disclaim any support for the FARC, its methods and strategy. The FARC is internationally isolated – the Cuban Foreign Ministry proclaimed the phony ‘reconciliation’ at Santo Domingo to be a ‘great victory’ for peace. The FARC is diplomatically isolated, even as it retains substantial domestic support in the provinces and countryside of Colombia.

With the ‘neutralization’ of outside support, or sympathy for the FARC, the Uribe regime – before, during and immediately after the Santo Domingo meeting – launched a series of bloody murders and threats against all progressive and leftist organizations. In the run-up to a March 6, 2008 200,000-strong ‘march against state terror’, hundreds of organizers and activists were threatened, abused, followed, interrogated and accused by Uribe of ‘supporting the FARC’, a government label, which was followed up by the death squad killings of the leader of the march and four other human rights spokespeople. Immediately following the mass demonstration, the principle Colombian trade union, the CUT (the Confederation of Colombian Workers) reported several assassinations and assaults including the head of the banking employees union, a leader of the teachers union, the head of the education section of the CUT and a researcher at a pedagogical institute.

All told, over 5,000 trade unionists have been killed, 2 million peasants and farmers have been forcibly removed and their land seized by pro-Uribe paramilitary forces and landlords. Former self-confessed death squad leaders publicly have admitted to funding and controlling over one-third of the elected members of Congress backing Uribe. Currently 30 congress-people are on trial for ‘association’ with the paramilitary death squads. Several of Uribe’s most intimate cabinet collaborators were exposed as having family ties with the death squads and two were forced to resign.

Despite international disrepute, especially in Latin America, with powerful support from Washington, Uribe has built up a murderous killing machine of 200,000 military, 30,000 police, several thousand death squad killers and over a million fanatical middle and upper class Colombians in favor of ‘wiping out the FARC’ – meaning eliminating independent popular organizations of civil society. More than any other past Colombian oligarchic rulers, Uribe is the closest to a fascist dictator combining state terror with mass mobilization.

The opposition political and social movements in Colombia are massive, committed and vulnerable. They are subject to daily intimidation and gangland-style murder. Through terror and mass propaganda, Uribe has so far been able to impose his rule over the working class opposition and attract mass middle class support. But he has utterly failed to defeat, destroy or disarticulate the FARC – his most consequential opposition. Each year since he has come to power, Uribe has pledged massive, all-out military sweeps of entire regions of the country, which would finally put an end to the ‘terrorists’. Tens of thousands of peasants in FARC-influenced regions have been tortured, raped, murdered and driven from their homes. Each of Uribe’s military offensives has failed. Yet he absolutely and totally fails to recognize what some generals and even US officials observe: the FARC cannot be militarily annihilated and at some point the government must negotiate.

Uribe’s failures and the enduring presence of the FARC have become a psychotic obsession: All territorial, legal, international constraints are thrown overboard. Alternating between euphoria and hysteria, faced with internal opposition to his mono-maniac strategy of terror, he screams ‘FARC supporters’ at any and all overseas and Colombian critics. To Ecuador and Venezuela, he promises ‘not to invade their territory again’ unless ‘circumstances warrant it.’ So much for ‘reconciliation.’

The period of humanitarian exchange is dead; the FARC cannot and will not accommodate the requests of well-intentioned friends, especially when it puts in risk the entire FARC organization and leadership. Let us concede that Chavez intentions were well meant. His pleas for a mutual release of prisoners might have made sense if he had been dealing with a rational bourgeois politician responsive to international leaders and organizations and eager to create a favorable image before world public opinion. But it was naïve for Chavez to believe that a psychotic politician with a history of annihilating his opposition would suddenly discover the virtues of negotiations and humanitarian exchanges. Without question, the FARC understands better than its Andean and Caribbean friends through hard experience and bitter lessons, that armed struggle may not be the desired method but it is the only realistic way to confront a brutal fascist regime.

Uribe’s killing of Raul Reyes was not about Chavez initiatives or Ecuador’s sovereignty or Ingrid Betancourt’s captivity, it was about Raul Reyes, a consequential and life-long revolutionary and leader of the FARC. The war-scare is over, differences have been papered over, the leaders have returned to their palaces, but Raul Reyes has not been forgotten – at least not in the countryside of Colombia or in the hearts of its peasants.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8356

Open Letter to President Sarkozy by James Petras

Dandelion Salad

by James Petras
Dissident Voice
December 11th, 2007

On the Humanitarian Exchange of Political Prisoners in Colombia and the United States

I read with great interest your letter to FARC leader Manuel Marulanda. I share with you a humanitarian impulse to end the imprisonment of political prisoners in Colombia. However let us be clear, principled and realistic about this: The freedom of the political prisoners of the FARC is dependent on a quid pro quo — the liberation of the resistance fighters of the FARC in the dungeons of the Colombian state.

Your dramatic and highly publicized intervention has focused world public opinion on the prisoners held by the FARC, but you failed to mention the plight of the Colombian government’s political prisoners, tortured and brutalized by a President, whose many closest Congressional associates are awaiting trial for their long-term ties to the paramilitary death squads and narco-traffickers.

Let us begins anew, President Sarkozy. If your want to be an honest mediator or consequential humanitarian leader you must act impartially with a spirit of reciprocity. You have, up to now, acted in a one-sided manner, which is not conducive to a positive resolution of the interchange of prisoners. In your short, highly publicized appeals you have not acted in good faith and equanimity.

continued…

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