David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 1/18/02
The poisonous fruits of long-sown US drug war policies in the Andes have ripened and are spreading their bitter taste throughout the violence-soaked nation of Colombia and its neighbors.
One day after the Colombian government receives a phalanx of shiny new US-purchased Blackhawk helicopters, it calls off long-running and all-important peace negotiations with the rebel FARC group. Peace is granted a brief reprieve after a host of countries -- US conspicuously absent -- send their best diplomats to urge continued discussions and offer their help in making that happen. Time will tell.
In government-controlled territory, deadly poisons not meant to exist are sprayed indiscriminately in US-led "coca eradication" operations. In reality, many legal crops get wiped out. Coca moves around and thrives in one location or another. Human beings and animals are exposed to the chemicals, some of which are marked by their manufacturer "not to be used near humans or animals," some of which are banned in the US entirely. Destruction, disease and death are left in their wake.
Colombia's truest terrorists, the paramilitaries, or "death squads," as they are known, receive quiet help from the government's army -- the people who just got our helicopters. They are massed and waiting for the government's signal for all out war. For the paramilitaries, war means murder and mayhem, massacring anyone who is on someone's list for whatever reason. Helicopters are our reward to Colombia for harboring terrorists. As long as the terrorists only kill other Colombians.
Conflict again breaks out in Bolivia's Chapare region. Coca eradication is the issue. Police murder a peasant union leader. The US Embassy warns, don't negotiate. Poverty and civil conflict are not cause for concern. US drug warriors' execrable crusade must be waged, regardless of the consequences for Bolivia.
No decrease in the availability of drugs is achieved. Wasted lives, predictable failure, morality and reason cast aside. The US drug war in action. Not a just war.