Colombia: Uribe’s Farewell Spectacle - español
Atilio A. Boron
Translation: Machetera and Manuel Talens
Álvaro Uribe, the empire’s unconditional pawn, took his leave from the Colombian presidency with a new provocation: the denunciation of FARC camps which he claimed to be established on Venezuelan territory. Being neither dimwitted nor lazy, the U.S. State Department came out in unconditional support of the accusation put forth by Bogotá at the Organization of American States (OAS), encouraged by the supposed “resounding” proof presented by Uribe, denouncing the government of Hugo Chávez for allowing the FARC camps to be set up and for carrying out various military training programs for some 1,500 guerrillas on Venezuelan soil. With amazing insolence, Philip Crowley, the State Department spokesperson declared that Venezuela’s response [in terminating diplomatic relations with Colombia] was “unfortunate” and “petulant” and threatened that “if Venezuela fails to cooperate in whatever follow-on steps are made, the United States and other countries will obviously take account of that.” It must be remembered that since 2006, the United States has included Venezuela in the list of countries that are unwilling to cooperate in the struggle against terrorism. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela issued a declaration along the same lines, saying that Uribe’s denunciation was “very serious.” Both statements cast a heavy shadow of doubt about the intellectual capabilities of both officials and, what’s worse, feed the suspicion that with their fondness for lies, the moral caliber of both is not all that different from that of Álvaro Uribe.
It’s obvious that for imperial administrators, they will try to make anything that is convenient to their interests appear before public opinion as something “serious and overwhelming.” And these were the interests that moved the White House to ask for one last “proof of love” from the Colombian leader just a few days before leaving his presidency.
As is commonly known, the file that the DEA, the CIA and the FBI have been building on Uribe for his intimate and prolonged links with the drug cartels keeps the Colombian leader from disobeying any kind of order coming from Washington, for fear of meeting the same fate as the former Panamanian president Manuel A. Noriega, and ending his days in a maximum security cell in the United States. [i]
The absurd claim from Uribe, an inveterate liar, comes like manna from heaven in Washington’s push to destabilize the Chávez government before the crucial Venezuelan elections scheduled for September 26th and at the same time, it legitimizes the impressive program of U.S. militarization that is being imposed on Latin America; one of whose leading examples has been the signed Obama-Uribe treaty through which Colombia is ceding at least seven military bases for the use of U.S. armed forces. This is why those in the U.S. government pretend to consider the proof behind Uribe’s denunciation as “serious and overwhelming,” knowing that it is completely unfounded and nothing more than pure verbiage backed up with photographic montages. But lies are part of official U.S. discourse, essential elements in granting an aura of legitimacy to U.S. imperial designs, for a variety of reasons.
These are lies because, in the first place, if the FARC controls around 30% of Colombian territory (something that is well known in Colombia) it’s impossible to make sense of partitioning no less than 1,500 men from the theatre of operations, sending their leaders to vacation in Venezuela, and organizing 85 guerrilla camps in a neighboring country. If there is a politician who systematically lies in our region – and there are plenty! – Uribe is the crowning example: it’s in Colombia itself where the rotting oligarchic state in crisis allows for wide swathes of its territory, particularly in the jungle zones, to be controlled by guerrillas, narco-traffickers and paramilitaries.
After the attack that Colombian forces carried out on its territory, various Ecuadoran authorities commented that Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia is marked by nothing so much as a no-man’s land controlled by the organizations listed above. With boundless ignorance, Uribe accuses his neighbors of not doing what he has amply proven unable to do himself: control his own territory. Closing its eyes to this reality, the United States is using this false claim to hound the Bolivarian government for its lack of collaboration in the struggle against drug-trafficking, using the “free press” to hide the bothersome fact from the public that the greatest worldwide exporter of cocaine (as well as drug traffickers) is Colombia, militarized by Uribe and thanks to his invaluable collaboration, converted into a U.S. protectorate. Given this picture of political decay, the complaint that the FARC have taken up residence in Venezuela – with the support and complicity of Hugo Chávez’s government of all things! – is nothing more than a vulgar deceit in the service of empire; an accusation that is so completely lacking on any basis as to be taken even slightly seriously. It’s a lie that exposes someone as completely unscrupulous as Uribe.[ii]
In the second place, how can it be forgotten that Uribe was the man who lied so treacherously when his military forces, supported by those of the United States, made their incursion onto Ecuadoran territory, alleging that they were going after a column of the FARC?
Forensic evidence showed that the guerrillas who they were supposedly chasing after a confrontation that took place on Colombian territory were sleeping – dressed in pajamas, even – when the attack took place, and therefore, what took place at Santa Rosa de Sucumbíos was not a battle but a plain and simple slaughter. This operation, carried out shortly after midnight on March 1st, 2008, occurred with the logistic and material support of U.S. Americans housed at the Manta airbase in Ecuador, the only people with the aircraft and technology capable of the astonishingly accurate bombing of the jungle in the absolute dead of night.
One more example of Uribe’s unhealthy fondness for the lie was the story put forth about the famous laptop belonging to Raúl Reyes, which with unprecedented technological prowess survived unscathed from a bombing that destroyed everything in its path and whose hard drive would go on to produce extremely valuable information about the extensive contacts of Reyes and the FARC with all of the enemies of Uribe and the United States.[iii]
Third, how can a man be believed, who from the presidency of Colombia validated the actions of paramilitaries and state terrorism? On February 16th of this year, the “Justice and Peace” unit of the Colombian Attorney General’s office published a report in which it was revealed that more than 4,000 paramilitaries from the United Self Defense Forces of Columbia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC) said that they had perpetrated 30,470 murders in the period beginning in the 1980’s, until their “demobilization” in 2003-2006. Not only that: the Colombian Attorney General also took statements from paramilitaries accounting for 1,085 murders, 1,438 forced recruitments of minors, 2,530 forced disappearances, 2,326 forced displacements and 1,642 extortions, as well as 1,033 kidnappings.
Despite this woeful record, Uribe is considered by his bosses in Washington to be a champion in the struggle for human rights.[iv] In this regard, if the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the United States has still not been ratified by the U.S. Congress, it’s because, as the conservative Colombian newspaper El Tiempo points out, in 2009 alone, the paramilitaries and “security forces” killed 40 trade union leaders, turning Colombia into the most dangerous country in the world for this kind of activity. Out of a total of 76 union leaders killed worldwide, 52% of these murders took place in a country that the United States considers a paradigmatic example of the struggle for human rights and the struggle against terrorism. The United Central of Colombian Workers (Central Única de Trabajadores de Colombia) reported just a few months ago that 2,721 activists and leaders of that organization were killed by “security forces” since its founding in 1986.[v] Despite this, Colombia’s democratic credentials have never been in doubt in Washington. [vi]
Fourth, the denouncer is no less than the person intellectually and politically responsible for the serial murders known as “false positives.” As pointed out in a series of notes published in Colombia by Crónicon: The Latin American Observer, during these last three years of the Uribe government, the balance sheet is dismal. It proved that in response to the government’s pressure to show concrete results in the struggle against guerrillas, the Colombian Army designed and carried out a criminal plan: moving through the country’s poorest villages and towns with offers of work among the huge masses of unemployed, the Army recruited a high number of poor, defenseless peasants and marginalized youth, who were later killed in cold blood, with their bodies dressed up afterwards as guerrillas killed in combat, in order to charge the bounty set up by the government and obtain bonuses or military career advancement.
According to very conservative estimates, these State crimes, perpetrated while the future Colombian president, Juan M. Santos, was the Defense Minister, surpassed 1,700 cases. [vii] Another facet of this criminal policy under the misnomer of democratic security, is provided in the discovery which came to light on February 16, 2010, of “the largest mass grave in modern history of the American continent, a horrendous discovery that has been made practically completely invisible” by the mainstream press in Colombia and around the world. “The mass grave, in La Macarena, in the Department of Meta, contains the remains of at least 2,000 people, (and was discovered) thanks to the perseverance of the family members of the disappeared and the visit of a delegation of union members and members of the British parliament who came to Colombia in December of 2009 to investigate the human rights situation.” It’s worth adding that this area had been an object of close attention by the Colombian armed forces since 2005, with the awful results that were recently revealed.[viii]
As with all the state terrorism that struck the region during the 1970’s, the crimes against humanity committed by their perpetrators also had a financial basis. In the case of Uribe’s Colombia, with his troupe of bloodthirsty freaks, millions of hectares left behind by the campesinos in their desperate exodus from the bombings and indiscriminate slaughters they faced were parceled out between the corrupt armed forces, the paramilitaries and the drug-traffickers. As Jomary Orteon Osorio, from the Colombian Lawyers Collective stated at a conference of the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OHCHR) convened in Geneva at the beginning of May this year, the figure for displaced peasants would reach 4,500,000, and their lands would later be transferred, to the great benefit of those charged with their displacement: to the landowners and agribusiness, the sponsors and financers of the paramilitaries. At this same conference it was established that despite these “successes” of the Uribe government, the number of displaced persons continues to grow at the rate of 150,000 people per year. The Colombian Planning Minister, Esteban Piedrahita Uribe, head of the Colombian delegation at the conference, did not deny the allegations and limited himself to saying that “we have confiscated 2,000,000 hectares from criminal groups who illegally seized these lands and now justice will decide their return to their rightful owners.” [ix] In any case, it must be emphasized that the calculation of the number of expropriated hectares in this savage remaking of the process of primitive accumulation of capital that Marx described in his famous Chapter 24 of the first volume of Capital is subject to heated controversy. There are those who maintain that the number of hectares transferred in this manner reaches 6 million, but there are others who put the figure at around 10 million. In any case, whatever the number finally established beyond any doubt, it’s certain that if the policy of democratic security did anything at all, it was to secure the expropriation of the peasant masses and their holdings in favor of capitalist agribusiness. [x]
This is the man who now raises his accusing finger against the Bolivarian revolution. It’s obvious that it is just one more maneuver, dictated by the empire’s strategists, to harass the government of Hugo Chávez and legitimize the policy of “hard power” of which it seems Obama has become even more enamored than his ignominious predecessor, despite the official declarations and writings of certain analysts close to the White House such as Joseph Nye, who insistently speak of the advantages of “soft power” (traditional diplomacy) or “smart power,” (intelligent power, new diplomacy) over the high cost and brutality of the former. However, the empire insists on the hard power at its impressive military disposition: therefore, the bases in Colombia; in Aruba and Curaçao only a few kilometers away from the Venezuelan coast; those in both El Salvador and Honduras and, now, the authorization to introduce no less than 7,000 Marines and all kinds of weapons as well as aircraft carriers, helicopters, amphibious ships and latest generation airplanes in neighboring Costa Rica.
That’s also the reason for the Fourth Fleet’s presence. In this way, Uribe’s government performs a service of extraordinary importance in the facilitation of imperialism’s destabilizing, counter-constituent plans: unable to protect its 586 kilometer border with Ecuador, where it has dedicated barely 8 tiny military detachments, and even less unable to do so along the 2,216 kilometers of the Colombian-Venezuelan border – transformed into a free-for-all zone for drug dealers and paramilitary – it is trying by all possible means to create the conditions that would justify U.S. military intervention in South America; for the moment, the tension between Colombia and Venezuela following the presidential succession remains, preventing Santos from modifying the agenda of permanent confrontation instituted by Uribe against the Bolivarian revolution and muddying the waters so that Chávez will arrive at the September elections totally worn out and internationally harassed.
Worried about his personal future and burdened by the specter of Noriega rotting away in a Yankee jail cell, or being sued before the International Criminal Court, Uribe is making every effort until his last day in office to show his total submission to the dictates of imperialism. For that reason two things are of utmost importance: exposure of the man who is reporting the crime and demanding the UNASUR’s immediate intervention to deactivate Washington’s plans for Our America. This is not a case for the OAS (an organization that failed to defuse Uribe’s provocation) but for UNASUR, which with this incident, will be put to the test. Hopefully this newborn organization of South American countries will act immediately – right away – otherwise, it may be too late to avoid the serious consequences of all kinds that could result if the warmongering U.S. project implemented by Washington and its Latin American proxies is carried to its conclusion.
[i] See the following declassified document at the U.S. National Security Archive: “U.S. INTELLIGENCE LISTED COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT URIBE AMONG ‘IMPORTANT COLOMBIAN NARCO-TRAFFICKERS’ IN 1991”, in:
[ii] At a border more than 2,000 kilometers long with few natural demarcations like great rivers, lakes or mountain ranges, many people (not just ordinary ones but also drug dealers, paramilitary, smugglers, criminals) can cross back and forth as many times as they please. But to assume that the Chávez government endorses the establishment of sanctuaries for guerrilla training camps in Venezuela only speaks of the absolute dishonesty and lack of moral scruples of Uribe and his bosses in Washington.
[iii] See the compelling evidence contributed by Margarita Vallejo and Horacio López in , El ataque de Colombia en territorio ecuatoriano : detrás de las palabras y los hechos (Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Centro Cultural de la Cooperación, 2009)
[vi] To the previous should be added the 27 journalists killed for exercising their profession during the eight years of Uribe`s rule. Other sources claim a much larger number.
[vii] Cf. Fernando Arellano’s Cronicón http://www.cronicon.net/paginas/cronicon_menu.htm
[viii] Cf. http://www.publico.es/internacional/288773/aparece/colombia/fosa/comun/cadáveres; and also
[ix] See the website of the conservative radio and television network Cadena Caracol, May 4th, 2010 http://www.caracol.com.co/nota.aspx?id=1019108
[x] See the data provided by the MOVICE, Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado: 4.5 million displaced peasants as of 2009:
Expropriated agricultural surface, 2009:
Argentinean sociologist and author Atilio Boron is a friend of Tlaxcala.
Machetera and Manuel Talens are members of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translators are cited.