Paramilitary Death Squad Involvement

Another interesting point with regards to the reality of US motivations in Colombia, and specifically with regards to fumigation programs, is that the well documented involvement of the army-backed paramilitaries in the drug trade, extending much further than taxation, is seemingly being ignored. Fumigation has largely excluded paramilitary controlled coca plantations and although a few well publicized operations have been carried out against alleged paramilitary processing facilities it is believed that the vast majority of these have remained untouched. It is no surprise to discover that these very same paramilitaries have a long history of clandestine relationships with US covert agencies such as the CIA and DEA and that they are alleged to be partly financed by various multinationals operating in Colombia. It is also important to note that these paramilitaries are violently opposed to any efforts aimed at slowing or halting the IMF-demanded privatization programs and other economic ‘reforms’ that would benefit the multinationals. And, as a result of this stance, they have killed hundreds of unionists and other activists that have been involved in anti-privatization, etc, campaigns.

Although then it seems logical to suggest that the paramilitary death squads are being conveniently ignored by the US and Colombian government as in reality they are relatively supportive of US aims and objectives, there is much more disturbing evidence that suggests that the paramilitaries do in fact have a strategic role to play in Plan Colombia. This is not as fanciful as it may seem when one takes into account the Thai and Laotian heroin lords during the Vietnam War, the Mojahedin heroin producers in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the Contra cocaine smugglers in Nicaragua also during the 1980s and the heroin trafficking KLA in Kosovo of the 1990s - all of whom were paramilitary outfits that, for as long as they fitted in with US foreign policy strategies, received substantial support and cooperation from US government agencies

In Colombia the evidence suggests that almost without exception the US fumigation has been preceded by heavy paramilitary activity in the areas in question - activity that has resulted in hundreds of deaths and other human rights abuses. The ex-ombudsman of the city of Puerto Asis in Putumayo department puts it clearly: "the paramilitary phenomenon in Putumayo is the spearhead of Plan Colombia." This view is corroborate by Commandante Wilson, a paramilitary commander in Putumayo, who recently told the Boston Globe newspaper that "Plan Colombia would be almost impossible without the help of the [paramilitary] forces...[the military] sprays where they know we have consolidated zones."

There is also, as demonstrated by both the USO oil workers union and the SINTRAMINERCOL mine workers union, an astoundingly direct correlation between the location of natural resources and the intensity of paramilitary activity. Activity by the death squads in these regions secures the much- coveted resources for multinational corporations and this to would seem to be evidence in favor of the argument that the US, if indeed their true objective is to consolidate control of Colombia’s natural resources, would be at least covertly willing to allow the paramilitaries to participate in the ‘pacification’ of Colombia.

It is safe to say that the US is, at the least, indirectly responsible for the recent growth of the death squads in Colombia by aiding and abetting a military that is clearly linked to the paramilitary forces. As US Senator Patrick Leahy recently stated, "Since the human-rights waiver [allowing US military aid to start arriving] was granted the paramilitaries have doubled in size. The numbers of massacres have also increased." Furthermore Amnesty International has recently filed a lawsuit against the CIA accusing them of improperly withholding information on their relationship with national paramilitary death squad commander Carlos Castano.

Should the CIA be forced to divulge such information it is highly likely that it would prove the existence of a much more direct relationship between the US and the death squads such as those that existed in El Salvador, Chile and other places. However, it is of course highly unlikely that, should it exist, the US government would reveal such information regarding Colombia at such a sensitive time - it is much more probable that they will chose to wait (using the pretext of National Security) for 20-odd years before allowing their complicity to become public knowledge. By that time of course, as was the case in the other examples cited, the media will not be so interested and it will all be over and done with anyway.