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The People are Winning

by Tom Burke |
May 1, 2003
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In Colombia, the people are winning. The U.S. war machine is losing plane after plane to a growing popular insurgency. On April 7, a U.S. pilot died when his plane crashed while spraying deadly chemicals on fields in rural Colombia. The U.S. State Department refused comment on assumptions that the plane was shot down by rebels.

This follows the March 25 incident where a U.S. pilot and two U.S. crewmembers were killed when a spy plane was downed in Caqueta Department, Colombia. The plane went down in an area patrolled by the Teofilo Forero column of the FARC (the Spanish acronym for the rebel army also known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

A month before, on Feb. 4, three CIA operatives were captured by the FARC, and another CIA operative and a Colombian army sergeant were killed in a quick firefight. Peasant farmers witnessed the FARC shoot down the CIA Cessna 208 and quickly moved in to capture the CIA operatives. The electronic surveillance plane was part of Plan Colombia’s counterinsurgency strategy.

The Pentagon and CIA refused to speak about the downed plane, but the White House immediately ordered another 150 U.S. Special Forces to the area. The FARC response: “We can only guarantee the life and physical integrity of the three gringo officers in our power if the Colombian army immediately suspends the military operations, as well as the overflights, in the area of Santana de las Hermosas, San Antonio de Atenas, San Pacho, San Guillermo, Ano Nuevo, la Esperanza, el Para and Norcasia.”

As the FARC grows in size and ability, it has fought repeatedly with the Colombian Army and U.S. forces in this region. The FARC guerrillas are highly motivated, well trained, and supported by large numbers of peasant farmers. The FARC is requesting that the Colombian government negotiate the release of its jailed comrades in exchange for the CIA operatives. There has been no positive response from Colombian president Uribe.

On the heels of this CIA disaster, on Feb. 26, the Colombian army saw one of their U.S.-donated Black Hawk helicopters crash to the ground in a mountainous guerrilla area of northern Colombia. All 23 soldiers on board were killed. That makes for four ‘Black Hawk down’ incidents since the U.S. government ‘donated’ 53 of them to the Colombian military. The Colombian and U.S. military command consider the Black Hawk to be one of their best weapons in fighting the FARC and ELN (National Liberation Army). As the FARC has proven, their ability to shoot down Black Hawk helicopters takes away a big military advantage of the U.S.-backed regime.

Clinton and Gore created Plan Colombia, a massive military assistance program that aims to secure Colombian oil, coal and agricultural products for U.S. corporations. Bush has escalated the U.S military intervention. U.S. Special Forces are now guarding a major oil pipeline.

The FARC is growing rapidly, as thousands of peasants join their ranks in response to Plan Colombia’s repression and war. War, death squads and poverty are what U.S. intervention means for Colombia. Say ‘no’ to another Vietnam! U.S. out of Colombia!