[News] The US, Colombia & the Spread of the Death Squad State

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 23 12:11:30 EDT 2014

Weekend Edition May 23-25, 2014

*The False-Positive Nightmare*

  The U.S., Colombia & the Spread of the Death Squad State


Colombia continues to be ground zero for the U.S.'s crimes against Latin 
America, and its continued quest to subjugate the region.   Several 
recent events, virtually uncovered in the mainstream press, underscore 
this reality.

First, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report just this week 
detailing the grisly practices of paramilitary death squads in the port 
town of Buenaventura. [1]   These practices by the paramilitaries which 
act with impunity and with the tacit support of the local police, 
include disappearances of hundreds of civilians; forced displacement; 
and the dismemberment of individuals, while they are still alive, in 
local "chop houses."   That the port town of Buenaventura was to be the 
model city of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is instructive as 
to what the wages of free trade truly are.   Jose Vivanco of HRW called 
Buenaventura "the scandal" of Colombia.   Sadly, it is not Colombia's 
only one.

Thus, this past weekend, the VI Division of the Colombian Army entered 
the peasant town of /Alto Amarradero/, Ipiales in the middle of the 
night, and, without warrant and in cold blood, gunned down four 
civilians, including a 15-year old boy.  Those killed were  Deivi López 
Ortega, José Antonio Acanamejoy, Brayan Yatacue Secue and José Yiner 
Esterilla --- all members of the FENSUAGRO agricultural union.  [2]

The Army then displayed the bodies of those murdered for all to see, and 
falsely claimed that they were the bodies of guerillas killed in combat.

These are the latest victims of the ongoing "false positive" phenomenon 
in which nearly 6,000 civilians have been killed by the Colombian 
military and then falsely passed off as guerillas in order to justify 
the continued counterinsurgency program in Colombia and the U.S. aid 
that funds it.  As my Colombian friend, Father Francisco de Roux, S.J., 
recently stated at a peace conference in Washington, "if these 'false 
positive' killings had happened anywhere else, they would have been a 
scandal!"  However, having happened in Colombia, the U.S.'s closest ally 
in the Western Hemisphere, the killings have elicited a collective yawn 
from the media and policy-makers.

A damning report just released by the Fellowship of Reconciliation -- a 
report which, in a just world, would have been covered on the front page 
of /The New York Times/ --- demonstrates how there is a direct 
correlation between U.S. military funding and training, particularly at 
the School of the Americas (aka, WHINSEC), and the incidence of human 
rights abuses, including "false positive" killings.  [3]

As to the latter issue, the report concluded that "[o]f the 25 Colombian 
WHINSEC instructors and graduates for which any subsequent information 
was available, 12 of them -- 48% --- had either been charged with a 
serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed 
multiple extrajudicial killings."    Moreover, "[s]ome of the officers 
with the largest number of civilian killings committed under their 
command (Generals Lasprilla, Rodriguez Clavijo, and Montoya, and Colonel 
Mejia) received significantly more U.S. training, on average than other 
officers" during the high water mark of the "false positive" scandal.

How revealing, then, that, as reported by the Washington Office on Latin 
America (WOLA), the head of the U.S.'s Southern Command, General John 
Kelly, recently explained to a Congressional hearing that the U.S. is 
utilizing Colombian military personnel to do military training in other 
Latin American countries in order to get around human rights 
restrictions which prevent the U.S. from doing the training directly.  [4]

As Kelly explained, in a moment of candor:

    "The beauty of having a Colombia -- they're such good partners,
    particularly in the military realm, they're such good partners with
    us. When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans,
    the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it
    almost without asking. And they'll do it on their own. They're so
    appreciative of what we did for them. And what we did for them was,
    really, to encourage them for 20 years and they've done such a
    magnificent job.   . . . /But that's why it's important for them to
    go, because I'm--at least on the military side--restricted from
    working with some of these countries because of limitations/ that
    are, that are really based on past sins. And I'll let it go at that."

In other words, the U.S. is exporting the abysmal practices of the 
Colombian military -- practices the U.S. has trained them in to begin 
with --- throughout the region.   Sadly, the silence in response to this 
nightmare reality is deafening.

/*Daniel Kovalik* is labor and human rights lawyer and teaches 
International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law./

/*Notes.* /

[1] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/03/20/crisis-buenaventura

[2] http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/colombia/doc/indig48.html



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