1 August 2021 — Internationalist 360°
It has long been said that Colombia is the Israel of Latin America, this statement has been made by different analysts and political figures, especially when in the last decade it has deepened its role as a U.S. base that serves as an experiment and focus for destabilization in the region.
A number of military bases have been located in that country that have served as counterinsurgency units, because as far as drug trafficking is concerned, they have clearly and conclusively failed. Just look at this week’s news regarding the coordination between some high-ranking army officers and narco-paramilitary groups, in particular protecting the actions of Clan Barros, a Guajira clan allied with the Gulf Clan dedicated to drug trafficking and gasoline smuggling in the departments of Guajira, Cesar, Magdalena, Atlántico and southern Bolivar.
Colombia is the first supplier of cocaine to the United States, every year it beats its own record as a producer of the narcotic, and this fact is closely linked to two aspects in which its coincidence with Israel is absolute: war as a permanent mechanism of an elite to exercise supremacy and the paramilitarization of this mechanism.
However, in the area of drug trafficking, which today is vital to the capitalist economy, the two imperial enclaves are not similar. In this “division of labor” they do not play the same role because Colombia provides the raw material while Israel provides the weapons and genocidal strategies to protect production.
Enclaves of imperial control and battering rams of militarization
Both enclaves have the mission of imposing the war waged by the United States on Latin America and West Asia respectively. In the case of the neighboring country and its Plan Colombia, the failure has been evident because the real objectives of “preventing the flow of illegal drugs to the United States” were not achieved.
The only achievement was to weaken the FARC guerrilla movement by implementing various strategies to the point of incubating a counterinsurgency model that could be applied in other latitudes such as Mexico or Afghanistan, where the results have been as disastrous, if not more so.
The militarization of Colombian society has had a greater impact on the guerrilla insurgency and the political opposition to neoliberalism than on drug trafficking, whose numbers are increasing relentlessly (Photo: AP Photo).
Meanwhile, a State that emerged on the basis of the violent expulsion of the Palestinian population that had inhabited that territory for many centuries, called “Israel”, carries out repression and the world’s largest weapons tests in an open-air laboratory in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. There it holds a captive population of several million Palestinians while claiming that it is the resistance movements that are carrying out its kidnappings.
Their origins are dissimilar, but the corporate plans emanating from the United States have made the coincidences more than evident, the elites of both countries have sought to ensure that they are amply armed and financed. Israel, with an important nuclear arsenal, has sought to crush as many Arab revolutionary expressions as possible, and has also invaded its neighbors Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, annexing strategic territories such as the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Colombia’s symbiosis with the United States is such that Uribism, in government for almost 20 years, accelerated plans to maintain control of the region by installing U.S. military bases. The results are captured in the report of a member of the Fundación Proclade, promoted by the Claretian missionaries, “North American Military Bases in Colombia”, which highlights:
“Since the beginning of Plan Colombia and then Plan Patriota, the bases of Tres Esquinas and Larandia, located in the Department of Caquetá, had been used for the operation of airplanes and North American technical intelligence. From there, fumigations with glyphosate were monitored and control over the population was maintained, leading to an increase in the war and an escalation in the number of displacements. As in the case of the communities of Bajo Ariari in the Department of Meta, or the communities of Puerto Asis in Putumayo, the true intentions are evident: in these regions the military control was directed towards the civilian population, there were murders and disappearances for which the Military Forces were responsible”.
Colombia, after the so-called Plan for Peace and Strengthening of the State (aka Plan Colombia), which provided the population with less peace and less security, has moved in the opposite direction to the objective postulated by the Pastrana administration in 1998: to promote peace, economic development, increase security and put an end to illegal drug trafficking. What it has achieved is to strengthen the army, which had 35 helicopters in 1999 and reached more than 200 aircraft in 2015, after the supposed end of the plan.
The number of military personnel increased by 50 thousand soldiers and 80 thousand new members were incorporated to the National Police, which depends on the Ministry of Defense even though its function is supposedly civilian.
Eduardo Giordano affirms that after the peace agreement, the Pentagon sought to have the Colombian military replace its marines by establishing links between Plan Colombia, the Merida Initiative and the Central American Regional Security Initiative. Thus, the Colombian Army has been trained in anti-guerrilla techniques by the Southern Command and, in turn, they have trained forces from other countries such as the Joint Task Force (FTC) of the Paraguayan army.
This support coincided with the massacre of two Argentinean girls of 12 and 11 years old respectively last November, who were housed in a camp of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a guerrilla organization formed in 2006 that gained a foothold in some rural territories after the legislative coup against former president Fernando Lugo in 2012. President Abdo Benítez, in the style of any recent Colombian government, reported them as casualties of the guerrilla forces in combat.
Gendarmes of looting
Multiple investigations relate the results of the militarization of the enclave that Colombia has become, how it has focused on rural territories and its correlation with extractive interests, that is, with the ordering of the world according to the plundering appetite of the Global North.
The resistance of rural populations, expressed in peasant, indigenous and Afro-Colombian struggles, is fought with blood and fire by the Colombian State which, like the gendarme of a great mine, imposes a regime of terror that orders the primary accumulation of capital, both from monoculture (including coca), mining and extensive cattle ranching.
According to Oxfam, Colombia is a country where 1% of landowners own 81% of the land, while the remaining 19% -which produces 78% of the food- is distributed among 99% of small landowners; militarization has intensified the concentration of rural property, paramilitarism and forced displacement.
In the Catatumbo region of the Department of Norte de Santander alone, bordering Venezuela and with the greatest extension of coca crops, there are 9,200 members of the Armed Forces (without adding the police) and almost 300,000 people. This means one soldier for every 33 inhabitants.
This does not translate into security for the communities. The Indepaz Foundation geo-referenced the risk for both social leaders and opposition politicians, and found that it is greater in the territories with a higher concentration of military and concluded that the most violent municipalities for organized society are in Catatumbo, Cauca and Arauca.
In parallel, the government of Iván Duque has sustained the war to maintain the authoritarian and genocidal policies of his mentor Álvaro Uribe on the pretext of an internal enemy, has done everything to sabotage the opportunity to eradicate war as a political code in Colombia.
He has failed to comply with the peace agreement, particularly the integral rural reform that allowed the expropriation of lands from the big landowners to give them to the peasants, who could recover them and return to their territories. It has inverted the logic of the Alienation of the Right of Domain, a legal figure included in the 1992 Constitution in order to expropriate land from the large landowners and give it to the peasants, putting more and more land in the hands of transnationals through internal displacement.
Indigenous communities have mobilized to demand that Duque’s pro-Uribe government concretely resolve the violence and displacement in their territories (Photo: La República).
In addition, in August 2020 he signed the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Israel, which has been criticized by various sectors, including the BDS organization, because it violates International Humanitarian Law. Four of the 312 Israeli companies that exported their products to Colombia between August 2014 and August 2015 have their headquarters in territories illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, and therefore, more than coincidence, it is a coexistence based on dispossession and subordination.
Colombian exports are lower than those of Israel, which would generate unequal competition. In telecommunications, Colombia would open up to Israeli companies, while Israel would be closed to the participation of Colombian companies in its market.
Official documents from the Ministry of Commerce confirm the increase in imports of arms and military equipment, which was 49.6% in 2010, and with the treaty, they assure that imports will grow more easily, which may affect the already complicated transition to the country’s post-conflict.
Peace agreements as an impetus for more extermination
Another coincidence (or coexistence) is that, in both countries, the dialogue is only a way to gain time to organize the extermination of whoever resists the plunder and occupation. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded in 1969 as a representation of a nation without territory, Palestine, sought to unify those living in the occupied territories and refugee camps.
Since its birth, it claimed a democratic, secular and non-racist Palestine, and its leader Yasser Arafat, after years of leading the resistance against the Zionist entity, accepted UN Resolution 242 recognizing its existence as the State of Israel; later he also agreed to negotiate the Oslo Accords.
In these agreements, signed in 1993 between Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, it was agreed to create a Palestinian state limited to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which only exists under a limited administration of the current Palestinian National Authority (PNA), in a West Bank occupied by Zionist troops and their illegal colonies.
While Arafat was poisoned with polonium-210, the two-state policy did not prevent the process of forced displacement of the Palestinian people, but rather Israel has tried to occupy all the territory of historic Palestine.
In Colombia, according to data presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Colombian State produced 6,000 victims following a peace agreement signed in 1985 between the then conservative president, Belisario Betancur, and the FARC to put an end to almost three decades of armed conflict. At the same time that the negotiations were advancing, members of the Patriotic Union (UP), as the political formation was called, made up of former guerrillas, communists, trade unionists, community action boards and leftist intellectuals, were being murdered or forced to flee.
Assassinations, disappearances, torture, forced displacements and other outrages contributed to the figure. Between May 1984 and December 2002, at least 4,153 full members of the party were murdered. This figure includes 2 presidential candidates, 14 parliamentarians, 15 mayors, 9 mayoral candidates, 3 members of the House of Representatives and 3 senators. Not a month went by without a murder or disappearance of a militant.
Within 14 months of Liberal Virgilio Barco Vargas assuming the presidency, in May 1986, some 400 members of the UP were assassinated. Journalist Dan Cohen cites an investigation by Colombian journalist Alberto Donadio that claims that the “Baile Rojo” was masterminded by Barco Vargas, implementing a plan drawn up by the decorated Israeli spy Rafael “Rafi” Eitan.
The mass extermination of pacified opposition groups is a story that repeats itself within Colombia but is also common to Israel (Photo: Archive).
Since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement until today there have been 1 thousand 219 murders of social leaders with a high concentration in the most militarized areas. In addition, 278 signatories of the peace agreement have been murdered and 400 former combatants still remain in prison, to whom the agreed amnesty has not been applied.
Nor are the committed development plans, which would allow former combatants to integrate into civil society, being implemented. Reintegration has stopped the persecution, imprisonment and killing, but it does not allow them to survive for integration.
Mercenaries: Lethal Weapons for Hire
Another coincidence (or coexistence) is the export of “human talent” for war. In 2019, the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that Israeli officials were training foreign mercenaries mostly Colombians and Nepalese in camps financed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Negev desert, located in the southern occupied territories. The mission was to participate in the aggression launched in March 2015 against Yemen, in which the Saudi coalition had left, until last December, some 233 thousand dead according to the UN, mostly due to “indirect causes” such as malnutrition because of the naval blockade supported by the United States.
Another Israeli arrived in Colombia to “train” manpower for supposed security, Yair Klein, who trained narco-paramilitaries on how to defeat the FARC. From former Israeli police and special operations units, the retired military officer founded a mercenary company called Hod Hahanit (Spearhead) in 1984.
In his research Cohen relates how Hod Hahanit supported the “notoriously brutal” Christian Phalangist militias that massacred between 800 and 3,500 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Chatila camps under direct Israeli military supervision in September 1982.
In Colombia, Klein trained the brothers Carlos and Fidel Castaño, the leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) financed by landowners, drug traffickers, cattle ranchers, politicians and Colombian military, responsible for massacres in which chainsaws were used to murder and dismember peasants, to the point that the UN estimated in 2016 that they were responsible for 80% of the deaths in the conflict.
The AUC were promoted by the Colombian oligarchy and their training underpinned by Yair Klein, retired Israeli officer whom the Zionist entity refuses to give in extradition for the murder of Luis Carlos Galán (Photo: Pedro Ugarte / AFP)
The AUC was promoted by the Colombian landowning oligarchy and its training underpinned by Yair Klein, a retired Israeli officer whom the Zionist entity refuses to extradite for the murder of Luis Carlos Galán.
He told the BBC in 2012 that he had direct support for his work with the paramilitaries from the army and other Colombian state institutions, as well as funding from someone who would later become the country’s president. “It was one of the landowners in the area, who financed me, like all the landowners, so that I could do the training at that time,” he said.
He also trained Jaime Eduardo Rueda Rocha, material author of the assassination of the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, Luis Carlos Galán, the great favorite to win the elections. He imported the Israeli-made weapon used from Miami and remains in Israel, where the authorities refuse to hand him over to Colombia for extradition.
The clearest example of where all these coincidences are heading is the announcement by John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, who confirmed that the Pentagon trained at least seven of the 23 former Colombian military personnel who participated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Although the warmongering bureaucrat refused to provide the names of those involved, he affirmed that, being active military personnel, they participated in “training courses” which, according to him, were not aimed at encouraging events such as those that took place in Haiti.
A paramilitary network protected and encouraged by the Colombian State, such as the so-called “security companies”, participated directly in the assassination. Colombian authorities admitted that four of them were involved.
Five Americans of Haitian origin, those in charge of the surveillance of the president and a Haitian doctor residing in Florida participated in the operation in which the mercenaries were recruited by Anthony Intriago, a Venezuelan anti-Chavista representative of CTU Security LLC, and Alfred Santamaría, a Colombian close to Uribe and Duque.
Intriago carried out together with the Colombian president the Live Aid Venezuela concert in Cúcuta in February 2019 that sought to prepare the ground for a “humanitarian” invasion of Venezuelan territory and called the Battle of the Bridges. Recently the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, announced having information linking CTU to the August 4, 2018 foiled assassination of President Nicolas Maduro.
The militarization focused on repression and extermination is functional to a concept that has privatized war, the Colombian military “human talent” is trained for these objectives and is cheap labor, or weapons for hire. The military forces have up to 220 thousand troops and thousands of them retire due to lack of promotion opportunities, misconduct or after 20 years of service.
Regarding Venezuela, in addition to the 153 paramilitaries captured in 2004 when, with the proven support of the Uribe government, a plan was hatched from Colombia to assassinate then President Hugo Chávez.
Recently, Israeli mercenaries participated in Operation Gideon against the Venezuelan government, the operation with full participation of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was articulated by Venezuelan Major Juvenal Sequea Torres, both for the entry of mercenaries into Venezuelan territory and to stop the kidnapping and transfer out of the country of the President and Congressman Diosdado Cabello.
Ruling No. 89 of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice states that “Two platoons of Israeli commandos would participate in the mercenary group, who are in the Caribbean Sea aboard the US IV Fleet under the direction of Admiral Craig Faller (…) justifying the Operation according to the unfounded accusations against the Venezuelan State as a Narco State”.
Neither republics nor democracies
The transformation of Colombia into an imperialist enclave is aimed at the deconfiguration of regional stability and integration. Its impact is already beginning to be seen in the assassination carried out in Haiti, which has sought to deepen the crisis of a country on the verge of total collapse.
Within Colombia, the rural population are exploited, oppressed and displaced with methods that resemble the apartheid applied by Israel against the Palestinians. In addition to being expelled, the population has been stripped of its basic rights, making them second or third class citizens within their own country.
The notion of State that sustains both countries is based on their being war machines at the service of political-economic networks that exercise hegemony to the detriment of impoverished sectors. This is achieved through territorial displacement, a fundamental tool.
The coexistence of Colombia and Israel, today, is only justified by war and the plundering of resources. It is not about national identity, much less about republican or democratic values: it is about accumulation by dispossession in its pure essence.
Militarization as a tool for the management of plunder and regional destabilization is common in both imperial enclaves (Photo: Oliver Ehmig).
Translation by Internationalist 360°