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More U.S. Troops Bound For Colombia

by staff |
October 1, 2002
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More U.S. Special Forces are arriving in Colombia. Supposedly on a mission to train members of the Colombian military, they will be assisting efforts to guard a major oil pipeline owned by the U.S.-based multinational corporation, Occidental Petroleum. Insurgents who are fighting to free Colombia from foreign control often target the pipeline.

The U.S. troops are in addition to the estimated two thousand other U.S. forces, which are drawn from different branches of the military and the CIA.

Colombia is in the midst of a civil war that pits U.S.-backed local elites, big landholders, the government, military and death squads against a massive popular movement that includes the majority of Colombians - workers and peasants, as well as guerrilla organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The Bush administration strongly backs Colombia's right-wing government, which is headed by President Álvaro Uribe. The Colombian government, the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, has suffered a string of defeats at the hands of the rebel FARC and ELN. In a policy shift, U.S. military aid is now openly used to fight the rebels.

Urged on by Washington, the Colombian government torpedoed the peace process with the FARC. President Uribe decided to wage a 'total war' on the rebels. He has set the goal of building a one million-person force of paramilitaries and informants to reassert control over the countryside. These policies have led to a sharp increase in human rights violations.

Death squads, sponsored by big landholders and the Colombian military, have stepped up their attacks on trade unionists, peasant leaders and community organizers.

A recent communiqué from the FARC stated: "In the rural communities of Bellavista, Travesias, La Maria, El Libertador, La Estrella, El Oso, Bella Maria, and Buenavista and in the town of Santa Ana, the security forces attacked the civilian population and destroyed their property. They set fire to the property of peasant farmers, destroyed vehicles belonging to local residents, knocked down two warehouses containing food for the communities, destroyed six food shops and burnt down the community pharmacy. They also raided various houses and set alight to some of them. Four civilian inhabitants of the area were also detained and accused of being guerrillas."

The communiqué also noted the response to the joint FARC and ELN forces. "This joint force was assisted by the population of the zone and together we struck serious blows against the enemy, leaving 19 military dead."