The war in Colombia continues, claiming the lives of on average 14 civilians a day due to political violence. Much of the conflict is over control of land that is valuable for its natural wealth, including oil, or militarily strategic location. In the process, more than two million Colombians have been displaced from their homes, made refugees within Colombia, often relocating to cities that are also controlled by military factions.
U.S. Funding: Plan Colombia
Since 2000, the United States has spent more than $5 billion on "Plan Colombia," as part of the "drug war" - 80% of it military aid, which has greatly escalated the war in Colombia. Support of the escalation has been bipartisan, and the Bush administration has continued this approach, disguising a bloody counterinsurgency as a war on drugs and introducing enormous increases in military aid to neighboring countries. Since the September 11th attacks, terrorism has been included as a second focus for US military aid.
Resources about US Military Bases in Colombia/Recursos sobre bases militares estadounidenses en ColombiaColombia Conflict | U.S. Advocacy & Policy
Current Negotiations/Negociaciones actuales
Who replaces General Montoya?
4 November 2008
Colombian Army commander Mario Montoya resigned today, in the wake of a scandal over army killings of civilians that a United Nations official on Saturday called “widespread and systematic.” A protégé of the United States, Montoya was an architect of the “body count” counterinsurgency strategy that many analysts believe led to the systematic civilian killings. His record is full of reports of collaboration with paramilitary units, from the 1970s into the 2000s.
Reflections on the Conflict in Colombia
By Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes
On February 4th, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Colombia and worldwide to protest the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-EjÃ©rcito del pueblo/Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army). Online and media debates have been rife with arguments that are increasingly polarizing an issue that requires a far more complex attentiveness. We are so quick to point fingers while the binary of "for or against" rings familiar for both U.S. and Colombian citizens, as the rhetoric of anti-terrorism proliferates, particularly in this post-9/11 world, conflating neo-liberal politics with State heroics. The notion of the nation's 'internal enemy' has been amplified in the social imaginary, allowing for 'national security' to extend its reaches into the folds of the everyday, impinging on what once were, for many of us privileged with citizenship in the United States, assumed freedoms. For Colombia, the effects of Uribe's Democratic Security and Defense Policy remain alarming as such polarization mandates patriotic allegiance from the nation's citizenry, and freedoms are also interfered for the promise of the public's protection. And yet, the complexity of this moment cannot be reduced to this alone. A vigilant inquiry would require a more profound exploration of the socio-political histories and present, of Colombia's internal politics, and of U.S-Colombia relations.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
At the beginning of 2007 the Colombian government presented the Strategy to Strengthen Democracy and Social Development 2007-2013, better known as Phase II of Plan Colombia. The goal of this strategy is to seek support from the international community for the consolidation of what the (Colombian) government considers the achievements of both Plan Colombia I (1999-2006) and the policy of Democratic Security.
Just as happened with the first phase of Plan Colombia, the second phase is now being discussed in the United States Congress without having been presented to the Colombian Congress. Nevertheless, just as in the case of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), its passage faces serious difficulties, due to opposition by Democrats stemming from persistent human rights violations, particularly of union leaders and labor organizers in Colombia, and because of the para-political scandal, which has seen an important number of Congress members who are part of the Uribe government being prosecuted or in prison for their ties to paramilitary groups.
Thousands of Campesinos Gather in Arauca to Give Testimony
By Mayra Moreno, CPP team
Located on Colombiaâ€™s mid-eastern border with Venezuela, Arauca is known as one of the most volatile departments (or states) in the country. The presence of oil companies and illegal armed groups, and its location in a geographic region that is strategic for war purposes leads to it being one of the most militarized areas of the country. The high levels of violence coincide with extremely high rates of poverty, despite Araucaâ€™s abundance of natural resources.
Thousands of people attended a large public hearing in Saravena, Arauca on September 27. That Thursday, individuals were invited to speak out against the crimes against humanity that they either experienced firsthand or witnessed. It was also an opportunity for individuals to actually document, with the assistance of lawyers, those experiences that would otherwise remain only in their memory, separate from any judicial process. In a country with staggering levels of impunity, having an official record of a human rights violation is the first step in trying to diminish the invisibility that engulfs such abuses.
The Colombian armed forces committed 955 extrajudicial executions between July 2002 and June 2007, according an investigation carried out by a coalition of 11 Colombian human rights organizations and released in October. Of these killings only two have resulted in a judicial conviction.
The number of killings by Colombiaâ€™s armed forces represents a 65% increase over the previous five-year period from 1997 to 2002. Since the last five years represent the most intense period of US training for the Colombian military, the study raises serious questions about the reasons for such a dramatic hike in killing by the US militaryâ€™s trainees. A number of the military units charged in the report with killing civilians have been â€œvettedâ€ (approved) for US training and other assistance.
Guardian (UK) and other sources
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is facing demands from his own Labor Party and the Trade Union Council to distance himself from George Bush in Colombia policy â€“ by blocking arms sales and withdrawing all military aid to the US presidentâ€™s staunchest Latin American ally, Colombia.
More than 200 leaders of the Party published a statement on the eve of the Partyâ€™s national conference this week to â€œend military aid to Colombiaâ€ until its government implements the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. Britain is the second largest supplier of military aid to Colombia, after the United States.