Category Archives: Colombia

Colombia Signs Cooperation Memorandum with NATO

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By Global Research News
Global Research, June 27, 2013

Photo: Colombian defence minister Juan Pinzon (EFE)
Mérida – Yesterday representatives of Colombia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) signed an agreement for cooperation and exchange of classified information, “good practice” in the “anti-terrorist” struggle, and against drug trafficking.
According to NATO spokesperson, Carmen Romero, speaking to EFE, the agreement “doesn’t make Colombia a partner [member] of NATO, but is rather about cooperation around common interests”.
Colombian defence minister, Juan Pinzon, and vice-secretary general of NATO, Alexander Vershbow, were in charge of signing the memorandum in Brussels, Belgium, where NATO’s headquarters are situated.
According to Telesur, the memorandum is the second official dealing between Colombia and NATO, as the Colombian Air Force trained in May this year with NATO planes in Canada.
Technically, Colombia can’t become a member of NATO, as only countries in the North Atlantic can join, but in the past many countries have become participants in its “Partnership for Peace” and in dialogue programs. Countries such as Australia and Japan are “global partners” of NATO.
Pinzon will also be travelling to France, the UK, and Spain. According to a Colombian government statement, the aim of his European tour is to “strengthen cooperation between the [Colombian] Armed Forces … with multilateral organisations in order to exchange experiences”.
The combined military budgets of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of global defence expenditure, and in recent years the organisation has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The Colombian army meanwhile was responsible last year for 20 cases of “false positives”, involving 52 civilians being murdered, according to the Colombian Centre of Research and Popular Education (CINEP).
Colombia’s foreign minister, Maria Holguin, said that under the new agreement NATO would provide Colombia’s army with training “in human rights and good practices in the military forces”. Meanwhile, she said Colombia will provide NATO with the experience it has in “the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime, which we are seeing more in … the Sahel region of Africa, where NATO has some interest”.
France, with assistance from the US, Canada, and Europe, attacked Mali, in the Sahel region, in January, and Britain has sent troops there. According to the Canadian Peace Alliance, “The real reason for NATO’s involvement is to secure strategic, resource rich areas of Africa for the West. Canadian gold mining operations have significant holdings in Mali as do many other western nations”.
When first announced early this month, it was unclear what sort of relationship Colombia was seeking with NATO, with President Juan Santos talking of “joining” the organisation, but Pinzon ruling that out and speaking more of “cooperation”.
At the time, the Venezuelan government, as well as Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, rejected Colombia’s possible membership of NATO, arguing that it would violate the peace treaties signed by member countries of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), and would imply a “threat” of military intervention in the Americas.
Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton said on Sunday that the relationship between Colombia and NATO is “irrational”, especially if “the advances in the region in terms of the integration of Unasur are taken into account”.

Lobbyists for Canadian Pipeline Have Deep Ties to White House

By Pratap Chatterjee
June 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – TransCanada and the provincial government of Alberta are paying former advisors to the Obama administration – as well as former staff of the Hillary Clinton and John Kerry presidential campaigns – to help them lobby for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to transport tar sands fuel to the U.S.
The pipeline from Alberta – which is to be built by TransCanada – has been delayed for over four years pending approval from the U.S. State Department which has final say because it crosses the international border. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a decision this fall in consultation with John Kerry, who took over the State Department earlier this year from Hilary Clinton.
Potential conflicts of interest for these three top Democratic party officials have been uncovered by Friends of the Earth U.S. This came soon after Mother Jones magazine uncovered evidence that TransCanada has had strong contractual relationships with the firm that provided a positive environmental review of the pipeline for the State department.
“No one can deny that this kind of influence trading is not in the national interest when it could sway a decision that is bad for the planet and bad for the country,” Ross Hammond, a senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth told the Financial Times.
Tar sands are thick, sticky, oil-bearing clay-like deposits (the industry term is oil sands) that are laboriously extracted from locations like Alberta’s pristine boreal forests and then processed into crude oil for gasoline. Canada is already the U.S.’s largest petroleum importer, shipping roughly 2.2 million barrels a day – much of which is from tar sands. The Keystone XL pipeline will carry an additional 1.1 million barrels of crude oil 1,700 miles south to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it can be processed for export overseas.
Between two and four tons of tar sand and two to four barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil, which ultimately releases three times more carbon dioxide than typical oil production.
Activists like 350.org and the Sierra Club have campaigned heavily against the pipeline because of the global warming consequences as well as the potential pollution impact. “Tar sands is not traditional oil,” writes Van Jones, founder of Rebuild the Dream. “It is a pipe-eating, planet-cooking, water-fouling goo that nobody knows how to get out of our water.”
In order the resolve the matter, the State Department commissioned an environmental impact assessment. In March 2013, a 2,000 page draft was published that suggested that the impact of the pipeline was not as bad as environmental activists claimed. Environmental groups, as well as the administration’s own Environmental Protection Agency, strongly disagree.
Recently is has come to light that for the last two years the State Department has been lobbied by the individuals who had previously worked for Clinton, Kerry and Obama.
For example:
* TransCanada has paid at least $1.1 million to Paul Elliott, a former member of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign team in 2008. Eliott worked on setting up meetings between State department officials and TransCanada executives in 2011.
* A public relations agency run by Anita Dunn, Barack Obama’s former communications director at the White House, was hired by TransCanada to direct advertisements to support Keystone in 2011.
* Bryan Cave, another Washington lobbying firm, was paid just over a third of a million dollars by TransCanada. The firm’s team included Brandon Pollak, a former member of John Kerry’s presidential campaign team. Major lobbyists like McKenna, Long and Aldridge, who have deep connections to the Clintons were also paid almost $100,000
* Graham Shalgian of Rasky Baerlein and David Castagnetti of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti – both of whom worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign team -were paid by the government of Alberta to “educate” US government officials about the province and Keystone XL.
“We look for good, strong, experienced, capable and ethical people who can give us the advice we need so we have a chance to present the truth about our company, our operations or a new project,” Shawn Howard, a TransCanada spokesman, told the Financial Times. “Some of the principals might know John Kerry, but there’s no end of people who know him,” Cal Dallas, Alberta’s minister of international and intergovernmental relations, added.
But TransCanada has other conflicts of interest also – it has also employed staff at Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the international consulting firm that conducted the impact assessment for the State department that came out in March.
Activists were very critical of the draft. “The number of problems identified was so numerous that you’d think the oil industry itself had written State’s report for them,” wrote Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International. “Well, unfortunately it appears that may not be all that far from the truth.”
Days later Mother Jones magazine obtained a copy of the original documentation for the assessment that showed some significant conflicts of interest. “ERM’s second-in-command on the Keystone report, Andrew Bielakowski, had worked on three previous pipeline projects for TransCanada over seven years as an outside consultant. He also consulted on projects for ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips, three of the Big Five oil companies that could benefit from the Keystone XL project,” wrote Andy Kroll.
“Another ERM employee who contributed to State’s Keystone report-and whose prior work history was also redacted-previously worked for Shell Oil; a third worked as a consultant for Koch Gateway Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. Shell and Koch have a significant financial interest in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.” ERM is also a paid member of the American Petroleum Institute which has been vociferous in its support for the pipeline.
Activists have also noted that in the documentation shows that ERM replied in the negative to a question over whether it had any relationship with TransCanada when applying for the contract.
Hiring an oil company contractor to review an oil pipeline that its clients have a financial interest in should be illegal – and it is,” wrote Gabe Elsner on a website called Checks and Balances. “Instead…a fossil fuel contractor, hid its ties from the State Department so they could green light the project on behalf of its oil company clients.
In the meantime groups are calling for Kerry to halt the review process and have the State Department conduct an Inspector General investigation to look at ERM’s ties to TransCanada and the State Department’s attempt to cover-up those ties. 
Elsner submitted a complaint to the State Department inspector general which may be looking into the matter now although they have refused to confirm or deny that an investigation is taking place.
This article was originally published at CorpWatch

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Colombian government, FARC guerrillas in peace talks

By Bill Van Auken 
6 September 2012
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos formally announced this week that his government is engaged in peace talks with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla movement.
Secret exploratory talks have been ongoing in Havana, Cuba since February. The first formal negotiations are set to begin in Oslo, Norway on October 5 and to resume later in Havana, with Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and Chile participating in the process.
Flanked by the Colombian military command and his cabinet, Santos made his announcement in Bogota on Tuesday. He said that it was “time to turn the page” on what he called Colombia’s “half a century of violence.” At the same time, he stressed that his government would terminate the talks within months if a definitive agreement was not reached, and that the army would not call a halt to its counter-insurgency operations while the talks are ongoing.
At a press conference in Havana, the FARC issued a video in which the group’s top leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, known as Timochenko, declared that it would participate in the talks “without rancor or arrogance.” He referred to the breakdown of the last peace negotiations in 2002: “How much death and destruction and tears are necessary to finally come to the conclusion that the way forward lies not in war, but in civilized dialogue.”
The FARC leader, appearing in combat fatigues before a large photograph of the group’s late former leader Manuel Marulanda, expressed confidence that the government would not make the same “mistake” as it had in the last round of negotiations. Peace, he said, could be “founded on reconciliation, to reach a point of balance between all,” and on “the extension of democracy.”
This represents the fifth attempt over the past 30 years by the FARC and successive Colombian governments to broker an end to hostilities, which have claimed a quarter of a million lives and displaced millions of people. Earlier efforts were abortive largely due to powerful interests determined to continue the war—particularly the country’s landed oligarchy, the military, the various right-wing anti-communist paramilitary groups created in the countryside and US imperialism.
The last round ended as the Washington introduced its Plan Colombia, which poured more than $7 billion in military and police aid into the country, while deploying US military “advisors” and contractors to sharply escalate the counterinsurgency war.
With the coming to office of right-wing politician Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian government turned toward a further intensification of violence, resulting in the military’s increased murder of civilians in an attempt to boost its body count, a phenomenon known as “false positives.” Meanwhile the so-called “peace” process became transformed into a plan to reintegrate and absolve members of the AUC right-wing paramilitary organization, which was responsible for the worst atrocities.
Santos, who was Uribe’s defense minister and was complicit in the crimes of the former government, had vowed on taking office that he would renew efforts to negotiate with the guerrillas. Undoubtedly he cleared the latest talks with the Obama administration, which issued a statement saying that, “the Santos administration has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the search for a lasting peace and to ensure the best life for all Colombians through political security and social inclusion.”
Santos named as negotiators a former armed forces commander, a former head of the national police, one of Uribe’s former “peace commissioners,” a presidential security advisor, and the head of Colombia’s Business Association.
Both sides referred to a five-point “roadmap” for the negotiations. The first point is discussion of rural development policy. Other points include the creation of conditions for former guerrillas to participate in politics, ending the conflict, providing alternative agricultural opportunities to coca cultivation and drug-trafficking; and providing an accounting for what took place and who was responsible in crimes against the civilian population.
The fact that the talks begin with the question of rural development is telling. The FARC, founded in 1964, has its roots in the late 1940s and the wave of murderous repression and rural civil war that followed the assassination in 1948 of Liberal Party candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and the “Bogotazo,” the massive social upheaval that this killing provoked.
Cobbled together out of various armed self-defense groups, it aligned itself with Colombia’s Stalinist Communist Party. From its origins to today, its central political focus has been agrarian reform. This orientation, which became intertwined with the retrograde conceptions of peasant war propagated by Maoism and Guevarism, has persisted even as Colombia underwent a rapid urbanization, which has left little more than a fifth of the population in the rural agricultural sector.
Faced with dwindling popular support, it came to depend more heavily on “taxes” levied from coca growers and drug traffickers in return for protection—a tactic also pursued by the right-wing paramilitaries and the armed forces—as well as kidnappings.
Colombia is the most socially unequal country in Latin America. Over 37 percent of the population lives in poverty. In the countryside, just 0.4 percent of landowners own over 60 percent of the land.
The prospects for negotiations between the Santos government and the FARC transforming these conditions are nil. Only a radical redistribution of wealth and a reorganization of the country’s economy to meet human needs rather than profit could begin to accomplish such a goal. Such a transformation is impossible outside of a socialist revolution.
The Santos government last year enacted a so-called Land and Victims Law. It is supposed to compensate the families of victims killed in the country’s dirty war, as well as restore land to those from whom it was grabbed by armed groups. Little land has been returned, however, with substantial amounts of stolen acreage remaining in the hands of landlords, cocaine traffickers, and mining interests.
As for resolving the question of political participation, an earlier agreement reached in 1984 saw elements of the FARC integrate themselves into a political party known as Union Patriotica. It gained some popularity but was ultimately destroyed by the wholesale assassination of its candidates and campaign workers.
The model for a successful demobilization of a guerrilla force was provided at the end of the 1980s with the 19th of April Movement (M-19), whose members traded in their weapons for small business loans, and whose leaders found positions in bourgeois politics. These include such figures as Gustavo Petro, the current mayor of Bogota.
Unmentioned in the “roadmap” is whether FARC leaders would be allowed to follow a similar course, or whether they would be prosecuted for kidnappings and other actions. Also left unresolved is the question of extradition to the US.
After the demobilization of the AUC, many of its leaders found themselves extradited to the US to face drug charges. This provided the Colombian government, military and ruling class with a convenient means of covering up their complicity in the bloody crimes of the right-wing paramilitaries. Washington has designated the FARC as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

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Western Banks ‘Reaping Billions from Colombian Cocaine Trade’

While cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits, a study claims
By Ed Vulliamy
June 05, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich “consuming” countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn “producing” nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.
The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.
“The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on ‘producing’ nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs,” said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria, launching its English edition last week.
“Colombian society has suffered to almost no economic advantage from the drugs trade, while huge profits are made by criminal distribution networks in consuming countries, and recycled by banks which operate with nothing like the restrictions that Colombia’s own banking system is subject to.”
His co-author, Daniel Mejía, added: “The whole system operated by authorities in the consuming nations is based around going after the small guy, the weakest link in the chain, and never the big business or financial systems where the big money is.”
The work, by the two economists at University of the Andes in Bogotá, is part of an initiative by the Colombian government to overhaul global drugs policy and focus on money laundering by the big banks in America and Europe, as well as social prevention of drug taking and consideration of options for de-criminalising some or all drugs.
The economists surveyed an entire range of economic, social and political facets of the drug wars that have ravaged Colombia. The conflict has now shifted, with deadly consequences, to Mexico and it is feared will spread imminently to central America. But the most shocking conclusion relates to what the authors call “the microeconomics of cocaine production” in their country.
Gaviria and Mejía estimate that the lowest possible street value (at $100 per gram, about £65) of “net cocaine, after interdiction” produced in Colombia during the year studied (2008) amounts to $300bn. But of that only $7.8bn remained in the country.
“It is a minuscule proportion of GDP,” said Mejía, “which can impact disastrously on society and political life, but not on the Colombian economy. The economy for Colombian cocaine is outside Colombia.”
Mejía told the Observer: “The way I try to put it is this: prohibition is a transfer of the cost of the drug problem from the consuming to the producing countries.”
“If countries like Colombia benefitted economically from the drug trade, there would be a certain sense in it all,” said Gaviria. “Instead, we have paid the highest price for someone else’s profits – Colombia until recently, and now Mexico.
“I put it to Americans like this – suppose all cocaine consumption in the US disappeared and went to Canada. Would Americans be happy to see the homicide rates in Seattle skyrocket in order to prevent the cocaine and the money going to Canada? That way they start to understand for a moment the cost to Colombia and Mexico.”
The mechanisms of laundering drug money were highlighted in the Observer last year after a rare settlement in Miami between US federal authorities and the Wachovia bank, which admitted to transferring $110m of drug money into the US, but failing to properly monitor a staggering $376bn brought into the bank through small exchange houses in Mexico over four years. (Wachovia has since been taken over by Wells Fargo, which has co-operated with the investigation.)
But no one went to jail, and the bank is now in the clear. “Overall, there’s great reluctance to go after the big money,” said Mejía. “They don’t target those parts of the chain where there’s a large value added. In Europe and America the money is dispersed – once it reaches the consuming country it goes into the system, in every city and state. They’d rather go after the petty economy, the small people and coca crops in Colombia, even though the economy is tiny.”
Colombia’s banks, meanwhile, said Mejía, “are subject to rigorous control, to stop laundering of profits that may return to our country. Just to bank $2,000 involves a huge amount of paperwork – and much of this is overseen by Americans.”
“In Colombia,” said Gaviria, “they ask questions of banks they’d never ask in the US. If they did, it would be against the laws of banking privacy. In the US you have very strong laws on bank secrecy, in Colombia not – though the proportion of laundered money is the other way round. It’s kind of hypocrisy, right?”
Dr Mejia said: “It’s an extension of the way they operate at home. Go after the lower classes, the weak link in the chain – the little guy, to show results. Again, transferring the cost of the drug war on to the poorest, but not the financial system and the big business that moves all this along.”
With Britain having overtaken the US and Spain as the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine per capita, the Wachovia investigation showed much of the drug money is also laundered through the City of London, where the principal Wachovia whistleblower, Martin Woods, was based in the bank’s anti-laundering office. He was wrongfully dismissed after sounding the alarm.
Gaviria said: “We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade – but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement Administration] only acts on a fraction of what it knows.”
“It’s taboo to go after the big banks,” added Mejía. “It’s political suicide in this economic climate, because the amounts of money recycled are so high.”
Anti-Drugs Policies In Colombia: Successes, Failures And Wrong Turns, edited by Alejandro Gaviria and Daniel Mejía, Ediciones Uniandes, 2011

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Imperialism and Violence in Colombia

Invited paper to be presented at the national conference on “Multinationals, Violence, Trade Union Freedom and Democracy in Colombia” organized by the SINALTRAINAL International Trade Union on its 30th anniversary, July 26, 2012 at Autonomous University of Colombia in Bogota, Colombia.
By James Petras
June 05, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — The US military intervention in Colombia constitutes the longest counter-insurgency war in recent world history. Beginning with President John F. Kennedy’s launch of the “Green Berets” in 1962 and escalating in the new century with President Clinton’s $7 billion dollar military program (Plan Colombia) in 2001 to Obama’s inauguration of seven new military bases in the present, the US has been at war in Colombia for 50 years. Ten US presidents, 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, both liberals and conservatives, have alternated in carrying out one of the most brutal counter-insurgency wars ever recorded in Latin America. In terms of civilian killings, trade union and human rights activist murders and the dispossession of peasants, the US backed oligarchy has the dubious distinction of being at the top of the list of tyrannical rulers.
To understand the bloody history of US imperial intervention in Colombia requires us to examine several key dimensions of the relation in a comparative-historical framework that highlights the specificities of Colombia’s ruling class and the strategic geo-political importance of Colombia to US hemispheric dominance.
Colombia: A Ruling Class in Search of Hegemony
Violence is endemic in a society ruled by a ‘closed’ ruling class governing through 19th century oligarchical parties (and their competing factions) for the greater part of the 20th and 21st centuries. Colombia differs from most of the rest of the major countries of Latin America which early on in the 20th century expanded representation to diverse middle class parties. In the post-World War 1 period and certainly by the World Depression of the 1930’s, Latin America witnessed the emergence of socialist, communist and national populist parties and Popular Front type regimes. However, Colombia remained frozen in a time warp of a closed political system dominated by two oligarchical parties which competed with bullets and ballots.
When in the immediate post WWII period a dynamic nationalist- populist figure emerged, Jorge Elicier Gaitan, he was assassinated and the country entered a period of a society-wide blood bath, dubbed “La Violencia”. Factions of Conservative and Liberal oligarchs financed armed bands to murder each other resulting in over 300,000 killings. The oligarchs ended their internecine war by signing an agreement to alternate electoral office, the so-called “National Front” further consolidating their stranglehold on power and forcibly excluding new political movements from achieving any significant representation.
Even when a pseudo alternative emerged, under the rule of rightwing populist, Rojas Pinilla, the mass urban and rural poor were subject to the private armies of the landlords, while the urban workers movement was brutally repressed by the military and police. Dissident democrats usually formed a faction of the Liberal Party; while activist workers were drawn to the militant trade unions and the clandestine or semi-legal Communist Party or smaller socialist parties.
The Cold War and US Imperial Penetration
With the onset of the Cold War, Washington found a willing accomplice in the bi-party oligarchical alliance, especially after the elimination of Gaitan and the savage repression of militant class based unions in the US agro-business complexes. Beginning with the bi-lateral and multi-lateral anti-communist military agreements of the early 1950’s, Colombian politics was frozen into a pattern of subordination and collaboration with Washington, as the US extended its empire from Central America and the Caribbean into Latin America.
The similarities between the bi-partisan political systems of Colombia and the US and the exclusion of any effective opposition in both countries, facilitated continuity and collaboration. As a result, Colombia’s oligarchy did not face the challenges that emerged from time to time in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
The Cuban Revolution and the US-Colombian Alliance
The Cuban revolution, especially its transition toward socialism and the multiplication of guerilla movements throughout Latin America, marked a turning point in US-Colombian relations. Colombia became a pivotal country in Washington’s counter-revolutionary strategy. Colombia served as a US “laboratory” in the effort to defeat the revolutionary upsurge of the 1960’s.
Colombia served as a trampoline for Washington to launch a counter-offensive based on military regimes to establish an empire of dependent client-states, open to US economic interests and obedient to Washington’s foreign policy dictates.
US Imperialism and Latin American Nationalism: Impositions and Adaptations
The US Empire did not emerge ready-made at the end of World War II. It confronted and had to overcome many domestic and overseas obstacles and challenges. Domestically at the end of WW II, after years of war, most US citizens demanded a military demobilization (1945-47) which weakened the capacity to intervene against the emerging progressive governments in Guatemala, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere. However, with the Cold War and the “hot war” in Korea, the US rearmed and launched its quest for world dominance. Social democratic and progressive governments and leaders were ousted from governments and jailed in Venezuela, Guatemala and Chile. Throughout the 1950s Washington embraced the “First (but not last) Age of Dictators and Free Markets”. They included Odria in Peru, Perez Jimenez in Venezuela, Ospina and Gomez in Colombia, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Duvalier in Haiti; Somoza in Nicaragua, Armas in Guatemala, Batista in Cuba.
Between 1948-1960 the US Empire totally relied on the brute force of the dictators and the complicity of the local agro-mineral oligarchy to secure its dominance.
The Empire, built on the basis of rightwing dictators, however, did not last beyond a decade. Beginning with the victory of the 26th of July Movement in Cuba, a decade-long (1960-1970) continent-wide revolutionary upsurge challenged imperial power and client collaborators of Empire.
US imperialism, faced with the demise of its dictatorial clients, was forced to adapt to the new configuration of forces composed of reformist middle class electoral parties and a new generation of radicals and arevolutionary movement of intellectuals, peasants and workers inspired by the Cuban example.
In 1962 Washington launched a new strategy called the “Alliance for Progress” (AP) to divide reformers from revolutionaries: the AP promised economic aid to the reformist middle class regimes and military advisors, arms and special forces to destroy the revolutionary insurgents. In other words imperial violence was more selective; it was directed against the independent revolutionary movements and involved greater direct military involvement in the counter-insurgency programs of the electoral regimes.
Colombia the Exception: Repression with Reform
In contrast to the rest of Latin America, where agrarian, democratic and nationalist reforms accompanied the counter-insurgency programs (Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela), in Colombia the oligarchy retained power, blocked the emergence of a reformist – democratic alternative and relied wholly on a strategy of total militarization – polarizing politics between revolution and reaction.
In Colombia the US Empire did not face a choice between a reformist middle class regime or a revolutionary movement because the oligarchical bi-party system dominated the electoral arena. The US did not need to combine the “carrot with the stick” – it concentrated all its efforts in strengthening the military power of the dominant oligarchy.
The Colombian ruling class ruled out any “agrarian reform” like in Chile, Peru and Ecuador for the obvious reason that they were the landowning elite. The Colombian oligarchy did not face a ‘nationalist military’ pressuring to nationalize strategic industries, like in Bolivia (tin and petrol), and Peru (oil and copper) because the military was under US tutelage and was closely linked with the emerging narco bourgeoisie. The Colombian ruling class served as the US “counter-point” to launch its second and most brutal counter-revolutionary offensive beginning with a coup in Brazil in 1964.
By the end of the 1960’s Colombia became the centerpiece (“model”) of US policy for Latin America. The region moved from reform to radical nationalism and democratic socialism in the early 1970’s – especially among the Andean countries and the Caribbean. Colombia was the anomaly in an Andean region ruled by nationalists like Guillermo Rodriguez in Ecuador, Juan Velasco Alvarez in Peru, J J Torres in Bolivia and democratic socialists like Salvador Allende in Chile.
Subsequently the US invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic in 1965/66 and supported the overthrow of Allende, Rodriquez, Torres, Velasco Alvarez in the Andean countries.Later the US backed military coups in Argentina (1976) and Uruguay(1972).
The Pentagon organized mercenary death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala killing nearly 300,000 peasants, Indian workers, teachers and other citizens. The US organized a mercenary army (the “Contras”) in Honduras to destroy the Sandinista revolution.
Colombia’s ruling class, backed by US and Israeli counter-insurgency experts, tried to follow the US counter-revolutionary lead by engaging in a “scorched earth policy” to defeat the popular insurgency. But narco-presidents Turbay, Betancur,Barco , Gaviria and Samper were only partially successful – they destroyed the popular legal Union Patriotica but increased the size, scope and membership of the armed insurgency.
The second wave of “Dictators and Free Markets” (1970’s – 1980’s), including Pinochet (Chile), Videla (Argentina) and Alvarez (Uruguay) came under popular pressure and faced the insurmountable debt crises of the early 1980’s. Once again US imperialism faced a challenge and choice: continue with the dictators and a deepening financial crisis or engineer a “democratic transition” which would preserve the state and the neo-liberal economy.
The Golden Age of Imperialism … Neoliberalism and Elections 1990-2000 (except Colombia)
The 1990’s witnessed the greatest pillage of the Latin American economies since the times of Pizzaro and Cortes. Presidents Menem in Argentina, Salinas and Zedillo in Mexico, Cardoso in Brazil, Sanchez de Losado of Bolivia and Fujimori in Peru privatized and de-nationalized over 5,000 public enterprises, mines, energy resources, banks, telecommunication networks – mostly through executive decrees – worth over $1 trillion dollars. During the 1990’s over $900 billion dollars flowed out of Latin America in profits, royalties and interest payments to multi-national corporations, bankers and speculators. In Colombia, narco-trafficking became the principle source of profits as the traditional oligarchy joined with the new “narco-bourgeoisie” in laundering billions of dollars via “correspondence” accounts with the major US banks in Miami, Wall Street and Los Angeles.
The “transition” from military dictatorships to neo-liberal authoritarian electoral systems in Latin America was paralleled in Colombia by the transition from an oligarchical to a narco-state. In Colombia the military and para-military death squads dispossessed millions of peasants, and confronted the armed insurgency. There was no “democratic transition” – the democratic opposition was murdered! Between 1984-1990 over 5,000 members of the Patriotic Union were slaughtered.
US empire builders looked on neo-liberal Latin America in the 1990’s as the “model” for expanding on a world-scale. The formula was to combine pillage via privatization in Latin America and dispossession via militarization in Colombia.
The Crises of the Neo-liberal-Militarist Model of Empire 2000-2012
The entire basis of US imperial supremacy in Latin America in the 1990’s was built on fragile foundations: pillage, plunder and corruption led to a profound class polarization and economic crises which culminated in mass popular uprisings overthrowing US backed client regimes in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. In Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela the incumbent neo-liberal Presidents were defeated by center-left and national populist’s parties and leaders.
In Colombia, mass rejection of the ruling neo-liberal narco-bourgeoisie expressed itself via massive electoral abstention (over 75%): the exponential growth of influence and the presence of the armed insurgency in over one-third of the municipalities and the tactical retreat of President Pastrana. He accepted a demilitarized zone for direct peace negotiations with the FARC-EP.
The entire basis of US imperial rule built on the collaboration of the neo-liberal client regime crashed. Between 2000-2005 popular social movements succeeded in defeating a counterrevolutionary coup and lock-out in Venezuela(2002-3). A victorious President Chavez accelerated and radicalized the process of socio-economic change and deepened Venezuela’s anti-imperialist foreign policy. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay rejected US free trade agreements.
Once again Colombia went against the progressive tide of the region. Colombia’s narco-bourgeoisie and oligarchy opted for total militarization to avoid the popular democratic movements occurring in the rest of Latin America. The Colombian-US response to democratic revolution in Latin America was “Plan Colombia” – a $10 billion dollar war on the Colombian people financed by the governments of the US, Colombia and the European Union.
Plan Colombia: Imperialism’s Response to Latin America’s Democracy Movement
“Plan Colombia” was the US response to the spread of the popular democratic revolution throughout Latin America. Plan Colombia represented the biggest US military aid program in the entire region and was designed with several strategic goals.
1. To ‘fence in’ Colombia from the “contagion” of the anti-neo-liberal revolution which had undermined the proposed US Free Trade of the Americas agreement.
2. Plan Colombia served to build-up Colombia’s capacity to threaten and pressure Venezuela’s anti-imperialist government and to provide the US with multiple military bases from which to launch a direct intervention in Venezuela if an ‘internal’ coups took place.
3. ‘Plan Colombia’ had an important internal political and economic function.
It was designed to militarize society and to empty the countryside; 300,000 soldiers together with 30,000 death squad paramilitary forces, forced millions to flee guerrilla controlled territory. The guerrillas lost important intelligence and logistical support but gained new recruits. As a result of the Uribe/Santos “scorched earth policy” and the mass violence, entire new economic sectors, especially in mining, oil and agriculture, were secured for foreign investors, laying the groundwork in 2012 for the Obama-Santos free trade agreement.
There is a direct connection between Plan Colombia (2001), militarization of the state, mass repression and dispossession (2002-2011), the deepening of neo-liberalization and the free trade agreement (2012).
4. Colombia serves a strategic geo-political role in the US militarized empire.
In the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa the US has used the pretext of the “War against Terrorism” to invade and establish an empire of military bases, in alliance with Israel and NATO. In Latin America, the US in alliance with Colombia and Mexico and under the pretext of the “War on Drugs” has built an empire of military bases in Central America, the Caribbean and increasingly in Latin America. Currently the US has military bases in Colombia (8), Aruba, Costa Rica, Guantanamo (Cuba), Curacao, El Salvador , Honduras (3), Haiti, Panama (12), Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico (several).
The US: A Militarized Empire
Because of the relative decline of US economic power and the rise of militarism, the US Empire today is largely a military empire engaged in perpetual wars. Washington’s close ties with Colombia reflect the close structural features of the state – heavily weighted toward military institutions – and economy, skewed toward neo-liberal and free market policies.
Once again, Colombia is the anomaly in Latin America. Nearly ten years after Latin America rejected neo-liberalism and eight years after the center-left regimes rejected a free trade agreement with the US, Colombia under Uribe-Santos embrace neo-liberalism and a free trade agreement with Washington.
Facing two major economic initiatives from Venezuela , Plan Caribe and ALBA, challenging US hegemony in the Caribbean and Andean region, Washington tightens its ties with Colombia via the free trade agreement.
Conclusion
US Empire depends on collaborator regimes everywhere in order to defend its military dominance. In Latin America, Colombia is the biggest and most active collaborator, especially in the Central American-Caribbean region.
But like the US, Colombia’s militarized state does not ‘fit’ in with the rest of Latin America. The US has no new economic initiatives to offer Latin America and has lost significant influence and witnessed a relative decline in trade, investment and market shares. Because Colombia, as a militarized-neo-liberal state complements the US global project, it became a special recipient of massive US military aid – precisely to prevent it from joining the new bloc of independent progressive states and further isolating Washington.
Colombia’s increasing dependence on the US economy via the free trade agreement sacrifices a large sector of domestic producers in agriculture and manufacturing but increases vast opportunities for the oligarchy and foreign investors in mining, oil and finance. The free trade agreement will increase the opportunities of the powerful narco-financial-bourgeoisie which launders over $20 billion dollars annually in drug revenues through leading US and EU banks.
Colombia is the ‘model state’ of the US Empire in Latin America. Colombia is ruled by a triple alliance of a narco-oligarchy, neo-liberal bourgeoisie and the military. The Santos regime depends increasingly on the large scale inflow of foreign capital, which is oriented toward producing for overseas markets. The military expenditures, the mass terror of the Uribe regime, the political isolation from the regional economic powers (Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina) and the limitation of the stagnant US economy are serious obstacles to the neo-liberal model. President Santos is attempting to reconcile these “internal contradictions”. Santos has replaced mass terror with selective assassinations of key activists in the trade unions and the human rights and social movements. He has focused on co-opting electoral politicians and centering the activity of the paramilitaries on eliminating popular opponents in the new mining and investment zones. He has combined major economic agreements with Venezuela and deepened military ties with the US.
The Santos-White House agreements and the strategy of diversified dependence and free markets rest on very fragile domestic and global foundations. The repression of dissent, the regressive taxes, the depression of living standards, the millions of rural dispossessed have led to the vast growth of inequalities and pent-up mass demand and rising popular pressure. The military commitments to the US impose a heavy economic cost with no economic compensation. The cost of US promoted militarism undermines efforts by Colombian business to expand in regional markets. The US economy is stagnant, the EU is in recession and the outlook for 2012 is precarious, especially for an open economy like Colombia.
At the turn of the 21st century Latin American countries faced a similar situation: neo-liberal regimes in crises, the US in economic decline and a ruling class unable to grow externally and unwilling to develop the internal market. The result was the popular democratic revolutions which led to a partial rupture with US hegemony and neo-liberalism. A decade later Colombia faces a similar situation. The question is whether Colombia will follow the rest of progressive Latin America in breaking with imperial militarism and embracing a new developmental road. The time is ripe for Colombia to cease being a ‘political anomaly’, a client of a militarized imperialism. The popular movements in Colombia,as evidenced in the Patriotic March movement are ready to make their own popular democratic and anti-imperialist revolution and establish their own Colombian road to 21st century Socialism.
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

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When the respectable become extremists, the extremists become respectable

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When the Respectable Become Extremists The Extremists Become Respectable: Colombia and the Mainstream Media

Colombia and the Mainstream Media

By James Petras
May 21, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — By any historical measure, whether it involves international law, human rights conventions, United Nations protocols, socio economic indicators, the policies and practices of the United States and European Union regimes can be characterized as extremist.
By that we mean that their policies and practices result in large scale long-term systematic destruction of human lives, habitat and likelihood affecting millions of people through the direct application of force and violence. The extremist regimes abhor moderation which implies rejection of total wars in favor of peaceful negotiations. Moderation pursues conflict resolution through diplomacy and compromise and the rejection of state and paramilitary terror, mass dispossession and displacement of civilian populations and the systematic assault on popular sectors of civil society.
The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed the West’s embrace of extremism in all of its manifestation both in domestic and foreign policy. Extremism is a common practice by self-styled conservatives, liberals and social-democrats. In the past, conservative implies preserving the status quo and at most tinkering with change at the margins. Today’s ‘conservatives’ demand the wholesale dismantling of entire social welfare systems, the elimination of traditional legal restraints on labor and environmental abuses. Liberals and social democrats who in the past, occasionally, questioned colonial systems have been in the forefront of prolonged multiple colonial wars which have killed and displaced millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
Extremism both in terms of methods, means and goals has obliterated the distinctions between center left, center and rightwing politicians. Moderate opponents to policies subsidizing a dozen major banks and impoverishing tens of millions of workers are called the “hard left”, “extremists” or “radicals”.
In the wake of the extremist policies of public officials, the respectable, prestigious print media have engaged in their own versions of extremism[1]. Colonial wars that devastate civil society and materially and culturally impoverish millions in the colonized country are justified, embellished and made to appear as lawful, humane and furthering secular democratic values. Domestic wars on behalf of oligarchies and against wage and salaried workers, which concentrate wealth and deepen despair of the dispossessed are described as rational, virtuous and necessary. The distinctions between the prudent, balanced, prestigious and serious media and the sensationalist, yellow press have disappeared. The fabrication of facts, blatant omissions and distortions of context are found in one as well as the other.
To illustrate the reign of extremism in officialdom and among the prestigious press, we will examine two case studies: US policies toward and the Financial Times and New York Times reportage on Colombia and Honduras.
Colombia: The “Oldest Democracy in Latin America versus “the Death squad Capital of the World”
Following on the heels of euphoric eulogies of Colombia’s emergence as a poster boy in an April issue ofTime,and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the Financial Times ran a series of articles including a special insert on Colombia’s political and economic “miracle”, “Investing in Colombia”[2]. According to the FTs leading Latin American journalist, one John Paul Rathbone, Colombia is the “oldest democracy in the hemisphere”[3]. Rathbone’s rapture for Colombia’s President Santos extends from his role as an “emerging power broker” for the South American continent, to making Colombia safe for foreign investors and “exciting the envy” of other less successful regimes in the region. Rathbone gives prominence to one Colombia business leader who claims that Colombia’s second biggest city “Medellín is living through its best of times”[4]. In line with the opinion of the foreign and business elite, the respectable print media describe Colombia as prosperous, peaceful, business friendly-charging the lowest mining royalty payments in the hemisphere – a model of a stable democracy to be emulated by all forward-looking leaders. Colombia under President Santos, has signed a free trade agreement with President Obama, his closes ally in the hemisphere[5]. Under Bush the trade unions, human rights and church groups and the majority of Congressional Democrats were successful in blocking the agreement on the bases of the basis of Colombia’s sustained human rights violations. When Obama embraced the free trade agreement, the AFL-CIO and Democratic opposition evaporated, as President Obama claimed a vast improvement in human rights and the commitment of Santos to ending the murder of trade union leaders and activists[6].
The peace, security and prosperity eulogized by the oil, mining, banking, and agro-business elite are based on the worst human rights record in Latin America. With regard to the murder of trade unionists Colombia exceeds the entire rest of the world.Between 1986-2011 over 60% of the trade unionists assassinated in the world took place in Colombia, by the combined military-police-paramilitary forces, largely at the behest of foreign and domestic corporate leaders[7]. The “peace” that Rathbone and his cohort at the Financial Timespraise is at the cost of over 12,000 assassinations and arrests, injuries, disappearances of trade unionists between January 1, 1986 and October 1, 2010[8]. In that time span nearly 3,000 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, hundreds were kidnapped or disappeared. President Santos was the Defense Minister under previous President Alvaro Uribe(2002-2010). In those eight years,762 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, over 95% by the state or allied paramilitary forces[9].
Under Presidents Uribe Santos 2002 – 2012 over 4 million peasants and rural householders were displaced and dispossessed of their homes and their lands were confiscated and taken over by landlords and narco- traffickers[10]. The terror tactics employed by the regimes counter-insurgency strategy served a dual purpose of repressing dissent and accumulating wealth. The Financial Times journalists ignore this chapter in Colombia’s “resurgent growth”. They are especially enthused by the “security” that ensued because large scale foreign investment, over $6 billion dollars, in 2012 flowed into mining and oil regions that were formerly “troubled” by unrest[11].
Leading drug lords, who were closely linked to the Uribe-Santos regime, and were subsequently jailed and extradited to the US have testified that they financed and elected one-third of the Congress people affiliated with Uribe-Santos party in what Rathbone refers to as Latin America’s “oldest democracy”. According to Salvatore Mancuso, ex-chief of the former 30,000 member United Self-Defense of Colombia paramilitary death squad, he met with then, President Uribe, in different regions of the country and gave him money and logistical support in his re-election campaign of 2006. He also affirmed that many national and multi-national corporations (MNC) financed the growth and expansion of the paramilitary death squads. What Rathbone and his fellow journalists at the FT celebrate as Colombia’s emergence as an investor’s paradise is writ large with the blood and gore of thousands of Colombian peasants, trade unionists and human rights activists. The gory history of the Uribe/Santos reign of terror has been completely omitted from the current account of Colombia’s “success story”. Detailed records of the brutality of the killings and torture by Uribe/Santos sponsored death squads, which describe the use of chain saws to cut limbs from peasants suspected of leftist sympathies, are available to any journalist willing to consult Colombia’s leading human rights organizations[12].
The death squads and military act in concert.The military is trained by by over one thousand US Special Forces advisers.They arrive in a village in a wave of US supplied helicopters, secure the region from guerillas and then allow the AUC terrorists to savage the villages, killing, raping and dissemboweling men, women and children suspected of being guerilla sympathizers.The terror tactics have driven millions of peasants out of the countryside
Allowing the generals and drug lords to seize their land
Human rights advocates (HRA) are frequently targeted by the military and death squads. President Uribe and Santos first accuse them of being active collaborators of the guerillas for exposing the regime’s crimes against humanity. Once they are labeled, the HRA became “legitimate targets” for armed assaults by the death squads and the military who act with complete impunity. Between 2002-2011, 1,470 acts of violence were perpetrated against HRA, with a record number of 239 in 2011, including 49 assassinations during the Presidency of Santos.[13] Over half of the murdered HRA are Indians and Afro-Colombians.
State terrorism was and continues to be the main instrument of rule under Presidents Uribe and Santos. The Colombian “killing fields” according to the Fiscalia General include tens of thousands of homicides , 1,597 massacres, thousands of forced disappearances between 2005 – 2010[14].
The practice, revealed in the Colombian press, of “false positives” in which the military kidnaps poor young men, dresses them as guerrillas and then assassinates them, comes across in the respectable US print media as evidence of Santos/Uribe’s military successes against the guerrillas.. There are 2,472 documented cases of military false positive murders[15].
Honduras: New York Times and State Terrorism
The New York Times featured an article on Honduras, emphasizing the the regime’s “co-operation” with the US drug war.[16] The Times writer Thom Shanker speaks of a “partnership” based on the expansion of three new US military bases and the stationing of US Special Forces in the country.[17]
Shanker describes the successful operation of the Honduras Special Operations forces guided and directed by trainers from the US Special Forces. Shanker mentions a visit by a delegation of Congressional staff members who favorably assessed the local forces respect of human rights, and cites the US ambassador in Honduras as praising the regime as an “eager and capable partners in this joint effort”.[18]
There are insidious parallels between the NY Times white wash of the criminal extremist regime in Honduras and the Financial Times’ crude promotion of Colombia’s death squad democracy.
The current regime headed by “President” Lobos- which invites the Pentagon to expand its military control over swathes of Honduran territory- is a product of a US backed military coup which overthrew an elected liberal President on June 28, 2009, a point Shanker forgets to mention. Lobos, the predator president, retains control by killing, jailing and torturing critics, journalists, human rights defenders and landless rural laborers seeking to reclaim their lands which were violently seized by Lobos’ landlord backers.
Following the military coup, thousands of Honduran pro-democracy demonstrators were killed, beaten and arrested. According to conservative estimates by Human Rights Watch 20 pro-democracy dissidents were murdered by the military and police.[19] Between January 2010 and November 2011 at least 12 journalists critical of the Lobos regime were murdered.
In the countryside, where NY Times reporter Shanker describes a love fest between the US Special Forces and their Honduran counterparts, between January and August 2011,30 farm workers in northern Honduras Bajo Aguan valley were killed by death squads hired by Lobos backed oligarchs .[20] Nary a single military, police and death squad assassin has been judged and jailed. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti and President Lobos, his successor, have repeatedly assaulted pro-democracy demonstrations, especially those led by school teachers, students and trade unionists and have tortured hundreds of jailed political dissidents. Precisely in the same time span as the NY Times publishes its most euphoric article on the friendly relations between the US and Honduras, the death toll among pro-democracy dissidents rose precipitously: eight journalists and a TV commentator have been killed over the first 4 months of 2012.[21] In late March and early April of 2012 nine farmworkers and employees were murdered by pro-Lobos landlords.[22] No arrests, no suspects, impunity reigns in the land of US military bases. The Times follows the Mafia rule of omega-silence and complicity.
Syria: How the FT Absolves Al Qaeda Terrorists
As western backed terrorists savage Syria, the Western press, especially the Financial Times, continues to absolve the terrorists of setting of car bombs killing and maiming hundreds.of civilians. With crude cynicism their reporters shrug their shoulders and give credence to the claims of the London based terrorists propaganda mongers, that the Assad regime was engaged in destroying its own cities and security forces.[23]
Conclusion
As the Obama regime and its European backers publically embrace extremism , including state terror, targeted assassinations and the car bombing of crowded cities, the respectable press has followed suit. Extremism takes many forms –from the omission of reports on the use of force and violence in overthrowing adversary regimes to the cover-up of the wholesale murder of tens of thousands of civilians and the dispossession of millions of peasants and farmers. The “educated classes”, the affluent reading public are being indoctrinated by the respectable media to believe that a smiling and pragmatic President Santos and elected President Lobos have succeeded in establishing peace, market based prosperity and securing mutually beneficial free trade and military base concessions with the US—even as the two regimes lead the world in the murder of trade unionists and journalists. Even as I read, on May 15, 2012 that the US Hispanic Congressional caucus has awarded Lobos a leadership in democracy award, the Honduran press reports the murder of the news director of station HMT Alfredo Villatoro, the 25th critical journalist killed between January 27, 2010 and May 15, 2012.[24]
The respectable press’s embrace of extremism, its use of demonological terminology and vitriolic language to describe imperial adversaries is matched by its euphoric and effusive praise of state and pro-western mercenary terrorists. The systematic cover-up practiced by extremist journalism goes far beyond the cases of Colombia and Honduras. The reportage of the Financial Times Michael Peel on the NATO led destruction of Libya, Africa’s most advanced welfare state, and the rise to power of armed gangs of fanatical tribal and Islamic terrorists, is presented as a victory for a democracy over a “brutal dictatorship”[25]. Peel’s mendacity and cant is evident in his outrageous claims that the destruction of the Libyan economy and the mass torture and racial murders which ensuied NATOs war, is a victory for the Libyan people.
The totalitarian twist in the respectable press is a direct consequence of its toadying to the extremist policies pursued by the western regimes. Since extremist measures, like the use of force, violence, assassination and torture, have become routinized by the incumbent presidents and prime ministers , the reporters have no choice but to fabricate lies to rationalize these crimes, to spit out a constant flow of highly charged adjectives in order to convert victims into executioners and executioners into victims. Extremism in defense of pro-US regimes has led to the most grotesque accounts imaginable: Colombia and Mexico’s Presidents are the leaders of the most thoroughly narcotized economies in the hemisphere yet they are praised for their war on drugs, while Venezuela the most marginal producer is stigmatized as a major narco pipeline.[26]
Articles with no factual bases, which are worthless as sources of objective information, direct us to seek for an underlying rationale. Colombia has signed a free trade agreement which will benefit US exports over Colombian by over a two to one ratio[27]. Mexico’s free trade policy has benefited US agro-business and giant retailers by a similar ratio.
Extremism in all of its forms permeates Western regimes and finds its justification and rationalization in the respectable media whose job is to indoctrinate civil society and turn citizens into voluntary accomplices to extremism. By endlessly prefacing “reports” on Russia’s Putin as an authoritarian Soviet era tyrant, the respectable media obviate any discussion of his doubling of living standards and the 60% plus electoral triumph. By magnifying an authoritarian past, Gadhafi’s vast public works, social welfare programs and generous immigration and foreign aid programs to sub-Sahara Africa can be relegated to the memory hole. The respectable press’s praise of death squad Presidents Santos and Lobos is part of a large scale long term systematic shift from the hypocritical pretence of pursuing the virtues of a democratic republic to the open embrace of a virulent, murderous empire. The new journalists’ code reads “extremism in defense of empire is no vice”.
[1] There’s a general consensus that the respectable print media include The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
[2] Financial Times (FT) 5/8/12;See also FT (5/4/12)”Colombia looks to consolidate gainsin country of complexities”
[3] FT 5/8/12 (p. 1)
[4] FT ibid
[5] BBC News , May 5, 2012
[6] ibid
[7] Renan Vega Cantor Sindicalicidio! Uncuento poco imaginativo) de Terroismo Laboral Bogotá, Feb. 25, 2012.
[8] ibid.
[9] ibid.
[10] Inforrme CODHES Novembre 2010.
[11] FT 5/8/12 p. 4.
[12] See the Annual Reports of CODHES, Reiniciar and Human Rights Watch
[13] Claroscuro Informe Aual 2011; Programa Somos Defensores Bogota 2012; Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados. Jan. – March 2012.
[14] Fiscalia General. Informe 2012
[16] Thom Shanker “Lessons of Iraq Help US Fight a Drug War in Honduras” New York Times, May 6, 2012.6
[17] ibid
[18] ibid
[19] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012
[20] Honduran Human Rights, May 12m, 2012.
[21] ibid
[22] ibid
[23] The notorious cover-up of the car bombing is the handiwork of the FT’s star middle east journalists. See Michael Peel and Abigail Fielding-Smith “At Least 55 Die in two Damascus Explosions: Responsibility for Blasts Disputed”, FT 5/11/12.
[24] Honduras Human Rights, April 24, 2012.
[25] Michael Peel, “The Colonels Last Stand” FT 5/12 – 13/12
[26] One of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary narco traffickers described the close financial and political ties between the Colombian United Self Defense terrorists and the Uribe-Santos regime. Se La Jornada 5/12/12.
[27] BBC News, 5/15/12. According to the US International Trade Commission estimates the value of US exports to Colombia could rise by $1.1 billion while Colombia’s exports could grow by $487 million.
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

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