Abby Martin VS Edward Rodriguez on Peace and Paramilitaries in Colombia

Abby Martin VS Edward Rodriguez on Peace and Paramilitaries in Colombia

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teleSUR English on May 27, 2018

Colombia’s presidential election could determine the fate of the historic peace deal ending their 53-year civil war. While most in the country want to honor the agreement, Colombia’s right wing has been a fervent opponent.

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NATO: The Military Enforcement Wing Of The West’s 1% by Rick Rozoff

by Rick Rozoff
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Stop NATO
Stop NATO-Opposition to global militarism
April 9, 2012

Stop NATO manifestation, Krakow

Image by Gosia Malochleb via Flickr

On April 7 Fox News Chicago reported on Occupy Chicago’s march through the city’s downtown, the Loop, recording that hundreds of protesters chanted “End the war, tax the rich” during part of the group’s Chicago Spring actions throughout the city “as the movement prepares for NATO.”

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Wikileaks: Documents Confirm US Plans to Destabilize Venezuela by Eva Golinger

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by Eva Golinger
Global Research, December 16, 2010
chavezcode.com

State Department documents published by Wikileaks evidence Washington’s plans to “contain” Venezuela’s influence in the region and increase efforts to provoke regime change

A substantial portion of the more than 1600 State Department documents Wikileaks has published during the past two weeks refer to the ongoing efforts of US diplomacy to isolate and counter the Venezuelan government.

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US and Colombia plan to attack Venezuela + Venezuela will suspend all oil shipments to the US in the event of an attack by Eva Golinger

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by Eva Golinger
Global Research, July 26, 2010
Postcards from the Revolution, July 24, 2010

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced this Saturday US plans to attack his country and overthrow his government. During a ceremony celebrating the 227th birthday of Independence hero Simon Bolivar, Chavez read from a secret memo he had been sent from an unnamed source inside the United States.

“Old friend, I haven’t seen you in years. As I said to you in my three prior letters, the idea remains the generation of a conflict on your western border”, read Chavez from the secret missive.

“The latest events confirm all, or almost all, of what those here discussed as well as other information that I have obtained from above”, the letter continued.

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Hostages Freed in Colombia by Eva Golinger

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by Eva Golinger
Global Research, April 1, 2010
Correo del Orinoco International– 2010-03-30

The Colombian Senator, herself and her daughter once hostages of right-wing paramilitary forces, has been leading peace efforts in the country for years. Despite sabotage by the Colombian government, Cordoba and her group, Colombians For Peace, were able to free two more hostages this week. The world kept up with the emotional developments via Twitter.

“They closed the helicopter doors, it’s still really loud, Colombia, give peace a chance!”, read one of Piedad Cordoba’s tweets early Sunday (@piedadcordoba), as she boarded the helicopter that just hours later, brought Josue Calvo home. The Colombian Senator has been leading peace efforts for several years in her country, which has been plagued with a 60-year old civil war between right and left forces.

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Corporate media silent on Colombian paramilitaries’ confession to 30,000 murders By Les Blough

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By Les Blough, Editor. Axis of Logic
Axisoflogic.com
Thursday, Feb 25, 2010

Apparently, the corporate media doesn’t consider it to be newsworthy: the confession to a Colombian prosecutor of 30,000 murders by paramilitaries who are linked to the Alvaro Uribe regime. To date, Associated Press, Reuters and their contracted media outlets remain silent on this latest news. If it had taken place in Somalia, China, Syria, North Korea, Iran or any of Washington’s perceived enemies, we would be seeing it on a CNN special report, backed up on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post. The last prominent NYT article reporting in January, 2007 on Colombian paramilitary death squads provided President Uribe with cover, stating:

“Senior members of Mr. Uribe’s government and Mr. Uribe himself have said that anyone shown to have had illegal ties to the paramilitaries, which terrorized Colombian cities and the countryside in the nation’s internal war, which has gone on for decades, and made fortunes in cocaine trafficking, should be prosecuted in courts of law…

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Official US Air Force Document Reveals the True Intentions Behind the US-Colombia Military Agreement By Eva Golinger

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By Eva Golinger
Postcards from the Revolution
Nov 5, 2009

An official document from the Department of the US Air Force reveals that the military base in Palanquero, Colombia will provide the Pentagon with “…an opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America…” This information contradicts the explainations offered by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the US State Department regarding the military agreement signed between the two nations this past October 30th. Both governments have publicly stated that the military agreement refers only to counternarcotics and counterterrorism operations within Colombian territory. President Uribe has reiterated numerous times that the military agreement with the US will not affect Colombia’s neighbors, despite constant concern in the region regarding the true objetives of the agreement. But the US Air Force document, dated May 2009, confirms that the concerns of South American nations have been right on target. The document exposes that the true intentions behind the agreement are to enable the US to engage in “full spectrum military operations in a critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from narcotics funded terrorist insurgencies…and anti-US governments…”

The military agreement between Washington and Colombia authorizes the access and use of seven military installations in Palanquero, Malambo, Tolemaida, Larandia, Apíay, Cartagena and Málaga. Additionally, the agreement allows for “the access and use of all other installations and locations as necessary” throughout Colombia, with no restrictions. Together with the complete immunity the agreement provides to US military and civilian personnel, including private defense and security contractors, the clause authorizing the US to utilize any installation throughout the entire country – even commercial aiports, for military ends, signifies a complete renouncing of Colombian sovereignty and officially converts Colombia into a client-state of the US.

[…]

via Postcards from the Revolution: BREAKING NEWS: Official US Air Force Document Reveals the True Intentions Behind the US-Colombia Military Agreement

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Twenty Years After End Of The Cold War: Pentagon’s Buildup In Latin America by Rick Rozoff

Honduras: A Victory for “Smart Power” By Eva Golinger

Colombia says ‘no’ to US bases

Colombia passes Uribe third term bill

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PressTV
Wed, 02 Sep 2009 09:17:38 GMT

Colombian legislators have approved a bill calling for a referendum on a constitutional reform to allow President Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term.

The bill was approved in the early hours of Wednesday in an 85-5 vote, after a tough debate that lasted more than 12 hours.

The move by the House of Representatives must still be endorsed by Colombia’s Constitutional Court.

The referendum would ask voters if Colombia should modify its constitution to allow presidents to run for two consecutive re-elections.

The constitution, which was already modified once in 2006 to let Uribe run for a second four-year term, allows for a single immediate re-election.

The conservative US-backed Uribe has not yet said publicly if he would make a 2010 run to stay in power.

Opposition groups and even some of the 57-year-old president’s supporters have openly opposed reforming the constitution, saying that another term for Uribe would undermine Colombia’s democracy.

However, some of the president’s supporters say he is the only leader who can tackle the leftist FARC guerrillas after he launched a massive operation — aided by billions of dollars in US funds — against the rebels, driving them back into the jungles and remote mountains of Colombia.

Uribe’s government is currently under fire by other Latin American states over Bogota’s plan to give US troops access to Colombian military bases through a 10-year lease agreement.

The top US ally in the region claims that the deal is only an extension of an existing cooperation with Washington to weed out drug smugglers and leftist guerillas.

Many South American countries, however, believe that Washington is using the regional war on drugs as a pretext to boost its regional military presence.

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Irked by US-Colombia deal, Chavez warns of war

Eva Golinger: America wants to attack Venezuela

Why the U.S. Government Hates Venezuela By Shamus Cooke

Colombia: US Escalates War Plans In Latin America by Rick Rozoff

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by Rick Rozoff
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Stop NATO
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/40838
July 23, 2009

On June 29 US President Barack Obama hosted his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe at the White House and weeks later it was announced that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops to five air and naval bases in Colombia, the largest recipient of American military assistance in Latin America and the third largest in the world, having received over $5 billion from the Pentagon since the launching of Plan Colombia nine years ago.

Six months before the Obama-Uribe meeting outgoing US President George W. Bush bestowed the US’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, on Uribe as well as on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

A press account of the time expressed both shock and indignation at the White House’s honoring of Uribe in writing that “Despite extra-judicial killings, paramilitaries and murdered unionists, Colombia’s President Uribe has won the US’s highest honor for human rights.” [1]

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Colombian regime launches new crackdown by Kiraz Janicke

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly

Kiraz Janicke
22 August 2008

Taking advantage of the political capital it gained with the Colombian military rescue of high-profile Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) prisoner Ingrid Betancourt on July 2, the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has launched a major crackdown on political opponents and social movement leaders.

There is also the ongoing so-called “FARC-politics” scandal, involving the investigation of three opposition parliamentarians — Wilson Borj, Piedad Cordoba and Gloria Ines Ramirez — as well as journalists William Parra and Carlos Lozano, who are accused of having links to the FARC (all of whom deny the charges).

The Uribe regime is also stepping up its persecution of trade union activists.

Union repression

On August 8, Liliany Obando, who has been contracted for a human rights project by the Agricultural Workers Union Federation (FENSUAGRO), was arrested and detained by the anti-terrorism unit of the Colombian National Police.

Only days earlier Manuel Gamboa, vice-president of the Peasants Association for the Defence of the Putumayo (ASCAP), an affiliated organisation of FENSUAGRO, was gunned down by right-wing paramilitaries.

Obando has been charged with “rebellion” and “managing resources related to terrorist activities”. However, no material evidence has been presented to support the charges.

The only “proof” provided by state prosecutors against Obando is a series of emails allegedly found on laptops belonging to FARC guerrillas and seized during Colombia’s illegal military attack on a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory on March 1 in which 26 people were massacred.

However, the material on the laptops is highly suspect.

A forensic investigation by Interpol into the computers found that a total of “48,055 files had either been created, accessed, modified or deleted as a result of the direct access to the eight seized exhibits by Colombian authorities between the time of their seizure on 1 March 2008 and 3 March 2008 at 11:45 a.m.”

Obando said in an August 11 statement that the accusations against her are false. Obando, a sociologist, had been carrying out a study of the assassinations of FENSUAGRO members by paramilitary death squads and government security forces when she was arrested.

Obando travelled to Australia in October last year where she spoke at the Latin America Asia Pacific Solidarity Forum in Melbourne, detailing the human rights abuses and anti-labour practices that are occurring in Colombia.

She has also travelled to Canada and Europe meeting with unions, NGOs, student organisations, development agencies, community and faith-based organisations and raising funds for small-scale agricultural, human rights and gender equity educational projects.

‘Para-politics’ scandal

In addition to silencing dissent, the “FARC-politics” scandal also aims to distract attention from the growing “para-politics” scandal that is engulfing the Uribe government.

More than 70 pro-Uribe legislators (including key figures in Uribe’s cabinet such as Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderon and his cousin defence minister Juan Manuel Santos, as well as Uribe’s brother Santiago and their cousin former-Senator Mario Uribe. Senator Carlos Garcia, president of Uribe’s political party, is also implicated.

All these figures are under investigation for direct links to paramilitary death squads, in particular the notorious Auto-Defence Units of Colombia (AUC). Allegations have also been made that paramilitaries held secret meetings at Uribe’s farm.

US academic James Petras, in a review of Calvo Ospina’s recent book Colombia, Laboratory of Witches, debunked the notion that the paramilitary groups operate independently of the Uribe regime.

“The use of paramilitary death squads promoted/financed and protected by the Uribe regime to murder and ‘disappear’ popular leaders serves several strategic political goals”, Petras argued.

“It allows the regime to lower the number of human rights abuses attributed to the Colombian Armed Forces; it facilitates the extensive use of extreme terror tactics … to intimidate entire communities; it creates the myth that the regime is ‘centrist’ — opposed by the ‘extreme left’ (FARC) and the ‘extreme right’ (death squads).

“This claim is particularly effective in furthering the regime’s diplomatic relations in the US and Europe …”, according to Petras.

The investigation into the “para-politics” scandal has increasingly brought the Uribe government into confrontation with the Supreme Court.

Uribe has sought to undermine the investigations by extraditing key AUC witnesses to the US, as well as proposing constitutional amendments that would curtail the ability of the Supreme Court to investigate sitting politicians.

In May, the Supreme Court had ordered an investigation — dubbed the “Yidis-politics” scandal — into a constitutional amendment passed in 2005 that allowed Uribe to stand for a second term in office, after former parliamentarian Yidis Medina publicly admitted he had been bribed to vote for the amendment.

Uribe went on to win the 2006 presidential elections with 56% of the vote. However, in a country where elections are marred by intimidation, violence and assassinations, only 21% of the electorate voted.

Uribe, who is pushing for a further constitutional change to enable him to stand for a third time and has managed to secure a support base among the urban middle classes, responded by accusing the Supreme Court of being infiltrated by paramilitaries. He proposed a “consultative referendum” on his presidency.

The Supreme Court has since backed down, announcing on July 2 that it would withdraw its investigation and that the constitutional reform “could not be an object of revision”.

‘Democratic creditials’ and murdered opponents

Despite corporate media and US State Department eulogies to the “democratic credentials” of the Uribe regime, Colombia continues to have the highest rate of killings of trade unionists in the world.

Since Uribe assumed the presidency in 2002, more than 500 unionists have been murdered by state and paramilitary forces and according to the European Union, more than 300 human rights activists were assassinated during Uribe’s first term in office.

James Brittain, in an August 8 Colombia Journal article, reported that more members of FENSUAGRO have been assassinated than any other union in Colombia.

“Since its inception, over 500 persons within FENSUAGRO have been assassinated or disappeared by right-wing paramilitaries or State forces, while five thousand members have experienced some form of state-based abuse or human rights violations. In 2007, 20% of all known unionists murdered in Colombia belonged to FENSUAGRO.”

Emphasising Obando’s links to social movements, religious institutions, human rights groups, academics and unions outside Colombia, Brittain categorises her arrest as a systematic attempt to mask the “reactionary military, political and economic policy” of the Uribe government “by going after those who can reveal the truth”.

“Amidst efforts to obtain bilateral free-trade agreements with the United States and Canada, it is imperative that the Colombian State silence any and all attempts at international solidarity among unionists, researchers and concerned citizens”, Brittain concludes.

[To sign a statement calling for the release of Liliany Obando, visit http://www.colombiasolidarity.net.]

Plan Colombia pays off for Washington

Dandelion Salad

by Raúl Zibechi
http://socialistworker.org
July 18, 2008

Two weeks after Íngrid Betancourt was freed from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, along with more than a dozen other hostages, the details of exactly what happened remain cloudy.

The FARC issued a statement late last week claiming that the commanders in charge of the prisoners were “traitors,” but those same commanders clearly showed signs of having been beaten by the military as they were paraded before Colombian TV.

The captured FARC commanders’ lawyer told Colombian television that, in violation of international law, the military had painted the helicopter used in the rescue with the insignia of the Colombia Red Cross, and some of the disguised military commandos sported International Red Cross emblems. After initially denying it, the Colombian government admitted on July 16 that at least one of their commandos had, in fact, worn a Red Cross emblem in order to fool the guerrillas, in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez welcomed Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to a summit meeting where he spoke of the necessity of restoring the economic and political ties with his “brother” from Colombia. This has provoked a debate among supporters of the Venezuelan revolutionary process about why Chávez has had kind words for his former rival, and what this means for the direction of the Venezuelan government.

Raúl Zibechi, a Uruguayan journalist and professor at the Latin American MultiUniversity of Franciscana, analyzes the situation after the hostage “rescue.”

THE FIRST half of 2008 produced a sharp political change that allowed the local and global right wing, as well as the multinationals, to restore their positions and go back on the offensive. The change was not confined to Colombia, although its most important epicenter was there, but it extended to countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, as well as affecting the whole region.

If there had been a sort of strategic equilibrium between the FARC and the Colombian armed forces, in the last months, this has broken in favor of the state in Colombia. The guerrillas lost all possibility of negotiating a humanitarian accord under favorable conditions, they cannot maintain political or military offensives, they have suffered a severe loss of credibility among the population, and now they can neither count on any significant allies in the region, nor in the world.

Even so, the most likely scenario is that the FARC will continue its path, with decreasing ability for initiative and the likely fragmentation of its command and geographic fronts, as is suggested by the liberation of the 15 hostages.

The strategy outlined by the Southern Command of the U.S. military and the Pentagon, and expressed in Plan Colombia II, contemplates neither the definitive defeat nor negotiations with the guerrillas.

Eliminating the FARC from the scene would be a bad business practice for the imperial strategy of destabilization and re-colonization of the Andean region–what Fidel Castro has defined as a “Pax Romana.” That project cannot be carried out without a direct or indirect war, or without permanently destabilizing the territorial and political configuration of the strategic region that includes the arc from Venezuela to Bolivia and Paraguay, passing through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

On the one hand, we are dealing with clearing the Andean region to facilitate current multinational businesses (open-air mining, hydrocarbons, biodiversity, monoculture for ethanol production) that depend as much on the appropriation of public goods as the displacement of the populations that still survive in those spaces.

We are not facing, what we might call, a “normal” capitalism, one that was capable in the past of establishing alliances and pacts that gave rise to the “benefactor” state, based on the triple alliance between the state, national business and the unions. We are dealing with a speculative-financial model and with accumulation by dispossession that substitutes negotiations for war and the extraction of surplus value with the appropriation of nature.

This system assumes the form of a criminal or mafia capitalism in countries like Colombia, not only because war and robbery work, but because these things form the central nucleus, the principle mode of accumulation. That explains the close alliance between the private war firms in Colombia that now employ 2,000 or 3,000 mercenaries nicknamed “contractors,” with the paramilitary state that Álvaro Uribe heads, rooted in the alliance with paramilitaries and narco-traffickers.

In Colombia, three forces have opposed this order of things: the guerrillas, the left of the Democratic Pole and the social movements. The first group believes that it can win through force of arms or negotiate with this new power. The Pole does not recognize the role of Washington and the multinationals, as designers and beneficiaries of the paramilitary-mafia state, and therefore overestimates the democratic margin that exists. The social movements, for their part, have big difficulties to overcome on the local and sectoral scale, and are not in any condition, for now, to put themselves forward as an alternative.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

PLAN COLOMBIA II was responsible for designing the militarist state and is, right now, searching for a way to consolidate it. Now that the FARC no longer represents a major threat to this project, the long-term plan appears clear.

Far from opening space for negotiations, as the left wants, the message from the last months indicates only one path: neither peace nor surrender guarantees the lives of the guerrillas. They can fight and resist or wait to be exterminated, as happened at the end of the 1980s. Their territorial nuclei will be hit to displace them towards the border zones with Venezuela and Ecuador, where Plan Colomba II aspires to convert them into an instrument of regional destabilization.

This is why Venezeula and Hugo Chávez adopted the strategy of reducing tension with the Uribe government.

We are not dealing with an ideological question, as some analysts might expect. This debate might be worthwhile around the tables of a café or in academic offices, but it has little use when dealing with the survival of projects for social change. If the empire consolidates itself, the entire region will suffer from the polarization, and that is the reason for the urgency of removing these conflicts, as much in Colombia as in Argentina and Bolivia.

Neither will an eventual victory by Barack Obama modify things. It might temper the most authoritarian aspects of Uribe-ism, which explains the unease of the government in Bogotá and their hoped-for alliance with the Republican candidate [John McCain]. What is certain is that the plans of the Southern Command do not depend on the tenant in the White House. They plan to promote integrated action in the region that converts it into a stable zone and an impregnable bulwark to maintain American hegemony on a global scale.

In sum, the imperial elites plan to use the force of arms to reverse their decline, and this means re-colonization for Latin American. In a period such as this one, only mass mobilization of the people and political means can contribute to weakening the offensive coming from the North.

First published on Rebelion.org. Translated by Todd Chretien.

***

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Fidel Castro on the Release of Hostages in Colombia

Talk to Jazeera: Ingrid Betancourt

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AlJazeeraEnglish

Al Jazeera talks to former hostage Ingrid Betancourt.

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Betancourt Update – Is This the Beginning of Colombia’s Leftward Shift?

Response to James Petras’ Critique: “Fidel Castro and the FARC. Eight Mistaken Theses of Fidel Castro”

A Few Words from the FARC By Mike Whitney

Fidel Castro and the FARC – Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

Lies, kidnapping and a mysterious laptop

Betancourt Update – Is This the Beginning of Colombia’s Leftward Shift?

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/14/08 “ICH”

It was a perfectly executed rescue mission and they pulled it off without a hitch. A small group of Colombian military-intelligence agents, posing as aid workers on a humanitarian mission, touched-down in the heart of rebel territory, gathered up Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, and whisked them away to safety while a small army of rifle-toting Marxist guerrillas looked on dumbfounded. The tale of the daring rescue by Colombia’s finest was immediately splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the world. Finally, the Bush-Uribe combo could point to a decisive victory in the seven year-long war on terror. Score one for the good guys in the ongoing struggle against the forces of evil.

There’s just one problem; the story isn’t true.

Apart from the reports on Swiss Public Radio that “claim that the entire episode was nothing but a sham to disguise the payment of a ransom” and that “the operation had in fact been staged to cover up the fact that the US and Colombians had paid $20 million for their freedom.” And, excluding the fact that “the wife of one of the hostages’ guards acted as a go-between to persuade her husband (who was a member of the FARC) to change sides.” (Times Online) And, ignoring the fact that on June 3rd, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba said that she had information that the government of Colombia was negotiating a deal with the FARC a to trade money for the release of Betancourt and the mercenaries” and that Mediaparte, the French web site founded by the former chief editor of Le Monde, reported that the rescue was “not an achievement of the Colombian military, but due to the surrender of a group of the FARC members” following “direct negotiations by the Colombian secret services with the guerrilla group that held Betancourt captive.” (“Mounting Questions about the Colombian Hostage Operation” Bill Van Auken)

On Friday, the FARC Secretariat issued a formal statement on their Bolivarian Press Agency website saying that they were betrayed by two members of their organization:

“The escape of the 15 prisoners on July 2 was a direct consequence of the despicable conduct of Cesar and Enrique, who betrayed their revolutionary ideals and the trust we had put in them.”

Of course, none of the western media reported the statement because it casts doubt the Colombian government’s version of the 100% scripted, Rambo-like rescue and calls into question the premature pronouncements of triumph in the war on terror. But it’s clear that the official story has begun to unravel and will require some serious PR airbrushing to keep from falling apart altogether. It’s looking more and more like the whole farce was concocted by Uribe to build public support for changing Colombia’s constitution so he can run for a third term as president. So far, it’s worked like a charm; Uribe’s public approval ratings have soared to nearly 80%.

The daredevil rescue-mission has catapulted Betancourt into media mega-stardom. She has already made a number of appearances on TV and radio including CNN’s “Larry King Live”, “NBC Nightly News” the “Today Show”. She has also announced her intention to write a play about her experiences as a hostage and the publishing industry is buzzing with news of a forthcoming book deal. In fact, as soon as news reached Paris that she had been freed, a 12 page letter she wrote to her mother as a prisoner was re-released in hardback form.

“I am in communication with God, Jesus and the Virgin every day,” Betancourt writes. “Morning overcast, like my spirit…My beloved and divine Mamita…I haven’t being eating; my appetite has shut down; my hair is falling out in clumps; I have no desire for anything…Here, nothing is one’s own, nothing lasts; uncertainty and precariousness are the only constant. The order is given at any moment to pack up and one gets to sleep stretched out anywhere like an animal. Those are the particularly difficult moments for me. My palms sweat, my mind gets foggy, and I end up doing things twice as slowly as normal.”

No one doubts that Betancourt suffered greatly or that she’s been deeply traumatized by her 6 years of captivity in the jungle. Clearly, she was just a blameless victim in a much larger political game. Her medical report shows that she is in good health although she still refuses to discuss whether she was tortured by her captors. According to NPR, she fears she “may slip into depression” and speaks slowly about her ordeal.

“The important thing was to fill the day with activities that could be repeated like in a schedule so like to give you stability in a world of no stability. That was the key.” She added, “I know that I have to give testimony about all the things I lived, but I need time. It’s not easy to talk about things that are still hurting. Probably it will hurt all my life.” (NPR)

To her credit, Betancourt has blasted the Uribe government saying, “That’s the difference between me and Uribe. For Uribe, the end of the FARC means the reestablishment of peace in Colombia. For me, peace in Colombia will come from social transformations.” (There’s still a chance that Betancourt will return to Colombia and run for president. She has dual French-Colombian citizenship)

She also praised Hugo Chavez who worked tirelessly to secure her release in an earlier prisoner swap that was scotched by the Bush administration. Bush and Co. believed the exchange would boost Chavez’s popularity, so Uribe made sure the deal wasn’t consummated. Betancourt said, “It seems to me that Hugo Chávez is magnificent. He can tell the FARC things that they will hear. The FARC didn’t like it at all when Chávez told them that the armed struggle in Latin American was obsolete, and that they had to think in a different way.” Naturally, Betancourt’s remarks about Chavez were not reported in the establishment media.

Betancourt and Chavez are right. Although the revolutionary struggle goes on, hostage-taking subverts the group’s larger goal of a society built on laws and human rights. And even though the FARC was pushed out of the political process by a corrupt and ruthless oligarchy, which killed nearly 5,000 of its leaders and union activists, they will not achieve their objectives by adopting the same methods as the right wing paramilitaries they’re fighting. It is impossible to defeat crime with more crime. Maybe, a presidential bid by Betancourt will provide the spark that is needed to focus attention on Colombia’s glaring social inequities; the massive wealth gap, the deeply entrenched economic and political polarization, and the venal self-serving oligarchy that runs the government like a medieval fiefdom.

Although she is grateful to be free, Betancourt has not “pulled her punches” when talking about Colombia’s shortcomings. On Friday she said, “Uribe and all of Colombia, should correct some things. We have reached the point where we must change the radical, extremist vocabulary of hate, of very strong words that intimately wound the human being.”

It’s too much to hope that one woman will be able to dismantle a repressive system of government that dates back hundreds of years and has the implicit support of the country’s main industrial leaders, its most prestigious families and the United States of America. But the power of reconciliation is stronger than many realize and, as Betancourt said in an interview with Eleanor Beardsley, “The only thing I’ve settled in my mind is I want to forgive.” That’s a good place to start.

Colombia is America’s last right-wing outpost in the hemisphere. There’s a good chance that it will be swept along by the leftist current that has overtaken most of Latin America already. Perhaps Betancourt’s role is simply to open the floodgates and let the tide rush in.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Response to James Petras’ Critique: “Fidel Castro and the FARC. Eight Mistaken Theses of Fidel Castro”

A Few Words from the FARC By Mike Whitney

Fidel Castro and the FARC – Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

Lies, kidnapping and a mysterious laptop

Response to James Petras’ Critique: “Fidel Castro and the FARC. Eight Mistaken Theses of Fidel Castro”

Dandelion Salad

By Joan Marie Malerich
Axis exclusive
axisoflogic.com
Jul 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: We believe that constructive, self criticism within the revolutionary left is vital. The political left is largely bereft of such criticism and when it occurs it is often rejected on the basis of passion or loyalties, not on logic and we are not the “Axis of Passion”. Criticism of one of our beloved leaders, Fidel Castro, by leftist writers is rare indeed. We published an article by James Petras,”Fidel Castro and the FARC. Eight Mistaken Theses of Fidel Castro” on July 8, 2008. Since then we have received a number of responses to the article. Joan Marie Malerich* submitted her critique of Mr. Petras’ article for publication and it is rationally based. We appreciate James Petras who has dared to offer criticism of Fidel Castro, who in our judgement is the greatest revolutionary leader of our time. Equally, we appreciate Joan Malerich who has the courage and insight to effectively debate Petras, a writer whose pen has been an anti-imperialist sword for 5 decades. In fairness to both writers, we recommend that the reader open James Petras’ article in a second page for comparitive analysis.

– Les Blough, Editor


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A Few Words from the FARC By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/09/08 “ICH”

It was a perfectly executed rescue mission and they pulled it off without a hitch. A small group of Colombian military-intelligence agents, posing as aid workers on a humanitarian mission, touched-down in the heart of rebel territory, gathered up Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, and whisked them away to safety while a small army of rifle-toting Marxist guerrillas looked on dumbfounded. Whew. What a shocker.

One of the American contractors who was freed in the mission even boasted to NPR that it was “the greatest rescue mission in history”. Indeed, it may be, but it’s a little too early to tell just yet. After all, it took about a week before the Jessica Lynch story began to unravel. This could take even longer. Many readers will remember Lynch as the baby-faced GI who supposedly fought off a swarm of Iraqi regulars “Rambo-like” before making her way to safety.

Unfortunately, the whole story turned out to be an elaborate farce concocted by Rumsfeld’s Strategic Intelligence Unit to drum-up support for the war. In truth, Lynch had simply taken a wrong turn on the road to Baghdad, rolled her vehicle in a ditch, and was patched up by some magnanimous Iraqis. Some hero!

It was the same with Pat Tillman, the Niger uranium, WMD, Saddam in the spider-hole and myriad other whoppers cooked up by the Bush spinmeisters. Every one of them was a fabrication. And what about the 75 Pentagon chieftains who appeared regularly on commercial TV to pollute the public airwaves with their war-promoting bilge? There wasn’t a word of truth in any of it; 100% unalloyed horsecrap.

Already, the holes are beginning to appear in the “official” rescue narrative. First of all, how did John McCain manage to show up in Bogata just as Betancourt was getting off the plane and the champagne was being uncorked? The whole incident was eerily reminiscent of the way the American hostages in Tehran were released on the day of Reagan’s inauguration. Now there’s a coincidence. Seems like “straight talking” McCain might be just as lucky as the Gipper.

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that secret negotiations may have been going on behind the scenes and McCain was tipped off at the last minute so he share the limelight with Uribe and breathe some life into his moribund presidential campaign?

And what about the reports on Swiss Public Radio that “claim that the entire episode was nothing but a sham to disguise the payment of a ransom. SPR cited an unidentified source ‘close to the events, reliable and tested many times in recent years’ as saying the operation had in fact been staged to cover up the fact that the US and Colombians had paid $20 million for their freedom.

“The hostages released on Wednesday, including Ingrid Betancourt, ‘were in reality ransomed for a high price, and the whole operation afterwards was a set-up,’ the public broadcaster said….The report said that the wife of one of the hostages’ guards had acted as a go-between after being arrested by the Colombian Army. She was released to return to the guerrillas, where she allegedly persuaded her husband to change sides.” (Times Online)

Irc.indymedia.org tells a similar story in their article “The Real Operation to Rescue Ingrid Betancourt and US Mercenaries”:

“On June 3rd, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba revealed that she possessed information that the government of Colombia was negotiating a deal with the FARC a to trade money for the release of Betancourt and the mercenaries.”

Mediaparte, the French news web site founded by the former chief editor of Le Monde, reported that the rescue was “not an achievement of the Colombian military, but due to the surrender of a group of the FARC members” following “direct negotiations by the Colombian secret services with the guerrilla group that held Betancourt captive.” Citing Colombian sources, it reported that Uribe had told a group last May that a surrender of those holding the hostages was being negotiated. Mediaparte added that the Sarkozy government agreed to offer the ex-guerrillas sanctuary in France after their surrender. (“Mounting questions about Colombian hostage operation” Bill Van Auken)

Now how did that little tidbit manage to slip by the New York Times?

And isn’t Betancourt’s announcement that she’s planning to write a play about her experience just one day after her release a bit suspicious? No one recovers from trauma that quickly. Something is fishy here. Clearly, this is not a woman who has been subjected to excruciating psychological pain like the US prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. Those unlucky fellows have been put through the full-range of sadistic abuses meted out by the Pentagon’s new breed of Dr. Mengeles and other intelligence “professionals”. Apparently, Betancourt was never water-boarded, beaten, raped, dragged around her cell in a dog-collar, or stacked naked on top of other prisoners. In fact, her medical report indicated that she was in remarkably good health. That says a lot about her captors.

So, what is the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and why are they traipsing around the jungle with Kalashnikovs instead of engaging in the political process?

The truth is, they were part of the process until the right wing death squads started killing their candidates and party bosses and forced them to go underground. As James Petras explains in his article “Homage to Manuel Marulanda”:

“In the early 1980’s, many cadre and leaders decided to try the electoral route, signed a ‘peace agreement’ with the Colombian President, formed an electoral party – the Patriotic Union – and successfully elected numerous mayors and representatives. They even gained a substantial vote in Presidential elections. …. By 1987 over 5,000 members of the Patriotic Union had been slaughtered by the oligarchy’s death squads, including three presidential candidates, a dozen elected congressmen and women and scores of mayors and city councilors. Those who survived fled to the jungles and rejoined the armed struggle or fled into exile.”

The FARC tried politics, signed a “peace agreement” with the government and were butchered anyway. That’s the way it works in Colombia. So now they are in the jungle waging war to gain entry into the political system. Is that terrorism?

The Colombian government has one of the worst human rights records in the world and much of the repression is facilitated by the billions of dollars they get from the United States via Plan Colombia. Again, James Petras details the effects of US support for the Uribe regime:

“With an unprecedented degree of US financing and advanced technological support, the newly elected narco-partner and death squad organizer, President Alvaro Uribe took charge of a scorched earth policy to savage the Colombian countryside. Between his election in 2002 and re-election in 2006, over 15,000 peasants, trade unionists, human rights workers, journalists and other critics were murdered. Entire regions of the countryside were emptied — like the US Operation Phoenix in Viet Nam, farmland was poisoned by toxic herbicides. Over 250,000 armed forces and their partners in the paramilitary death squads decimated vast stretches of the Colombian countryside where the FARC exercised hegemony. Scores of US-supplied helicopter gun-ships blasted the jungles in vast search and destroy missions — (which had nothing to do with coca production or the shipment of cocaine to the United States). By destroying all popular opposition and organizations throughout the countryside and displacing millions Uribe was able to push the FARC back toward more defensible remote regions.”

Noam Chomsky draws the same conclusions as Petras in this excerpt from his book “Rogue States”:

“In Colombia, however, the military armed and trained by the United States has not crushed domestic resistance, though it continues to produce its regular annual toll of atrocities. Each year, some 300,000 new refugees are driven from their homes, with a death toll of about 3,000 and many horrible massacres. The great majority of atrocities are attributed to paramilitary forces. These are closely linked to the military, as documented in considerable and shocking detail once again in February 2000 by Human Rights Watch, and in April 2000 by a UN study which reported that the Colombian security forces that are to be greatly strengthened by the Colombia Plan maintain an intimate relationship with death squads, organize paramilitary forces, and either participate in their massacres directly or, by failing to take action, have “undoubtedly enabled the paramilitary groups to achieve their exterminating objectives.” In more muted terms, the State Department confirms the general picture in its annual human rights reports, again in the report covering 1999, which concludes that “security forces actively collaborated with members of paramilitary groups” while “government forces continued to commit numerous, serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, at a level that was roughly similar to that of 1998,” when the report attributed about 80 percent of attributable atrocities to the military and paramilitaries. (Noam Chomsky, “Plan Colombia”, from Rogue States, 2000)

So now we all know something about the FARC and the repressive political program called Plan Colombia which is funded by the United States with the clear intention of perpetuating a war between a venal oligopoly and disenfranchised workers and farmers. But having searched the 4,253 articles written about the “Miraculous Bentancourt Rescue”; one thing appears to be missing, that is, a few candid comments from someone—ANYONE—who can speak for the FARC.

Here’s an excerpt from an Interview with FARC Commander Raul Reyes by Garry Leech that fits the bill. Readers can decide for themselves whether they hear something that “rings true” or if it is just revolutionary mumbo-jumbo:

FARC Commander Raul Reyes: “The goal of revolutionary struggle is peace”

“When we speak of the New Colombia we are speaking of a Colombia without social, economic or political inequalities; of a Colombia without corruption; with neither paramilitarism or state terrorism; of a Colombia with industrial development; of a worthy Colombia, independent and sovereign; a Colombia where resources are invested in scientific research and technological development; a Colombia where the environment is protected; a Colombia whose wealth is used for the benefit of the population; a Colombia that does not continue privatizing, that does not continue selling the businesses of the State but instead uses these businesses to benefit social programs; a Colombia with agrarian reform that includes infrastructure for the peasants and that makes it possible for their children to study; an agrarian reform in which a market and the purchase of their products is guaranteed; an agrarian reform in which they can obtain affordable credits from the State; a Colombia with employment; a Colombia with subsidies for the unemployed; a Colombia that guarantees education, healthcare, homes and all that.

That it is the Colombia that we dream of and that we call the New Colombia…

But to achieve this is a task for titans, because Colombia has a mafia class and a corrupt murderous ruler. And as long as they continue controlling the destiny of our country it is going to be very difficult for the people to become controllers of their own destinies. This is the reason that the FARC continues its revolutionary struggle.

The end of the revolutionary struggle being waged by the FARC is peace. For us, peace is the fundamental thing. We understand that peace is the solution to the problems that affect our people. We understand that peace means that in Colombia we have a true democracy. Not a democracy for the capitalists, but a democracy for the people, who can protest, who can participate, who have the right to live, who have the right to healthcare, to education, who have the right to communication, to electricity, to agrarian reforms, to fight corruption, to not have to kneel before foreign powers, but to be a country free, independent and sovereign with respectful relations with all countries on equal terms. Also, that the weapons of the army not be not used against the people, but just for the defense of our sovereignty and nothing more. To achieve that objective is why we are here in this jungle. And in search of that objective we are willing to continue for as long as is necessary.”

These are comments that you won’t find in the 4,253 articles on Google News, because they stimulate critical thinking and shape hearts and minds. And that’s exactly what the corporate propaganda system hopes to avoid.

see

Fidel Castro and the FARC – Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

Mounting questions about Colombian hostage operation

Unprofessional conduct

Is Betancourt release the end of FARC? + Film emerges of mission

Behind the Colombia hostage rescue

FARC leaders were paid millions to free hostages: Swiss radio

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