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(en) stop plan colombia - proposal to act in Europe and beyond

From "el desaparecido" <desaparecido@gmx.de>
Date Fri, 8 Dec 2000 16:28:00 -0500 (EST)


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Alfonso from the Black Communities' Process (PCN) will come to Europe for 
the upcoming anti-WEF preparatory meeting in Geneva (16-17 December) 
and to talk with people interested in doing something about the dreadful 
situation in Colombia.  He will also speak in Freiburg on the 13th (next 
Wednesday) and will stay after the meeting a couple of days in Geneva to 
continue working on the preparation of the campaign. If you are interested in 
this topic, it would be brilliant if you could stay at least till Monday evening.

In another message you will find a summary in Spanish of the intensified 
onslaught by paramilitaries (last week saw the biggest massacre ever done 
by the paramilitaries, a still undetermined amount of people were killed, so 
far 70 people have been identified but there might be more since the corpses 
were cut in pieces and thrown into a swamp) and of the current threats (the 
Colombian army has announced more massacres by the paramilitaries in the 
christmas period). This intensification of the war is being done to 'clear the 
field' for the military intervention of US troops in Colombia (logistically 
supported by the Dutch government). We hope to have the message 
translated into English soon.

The war in Colombia will certainly spill over to other countries of the region, in 
fact it has already provoked the extension of the operations of the 
paramilitaries and all the other actors of the conflict beyond the Colombian 
borders into Panama, Venezuela, Brasil, Peru and Ecuador. The US army 
has already built new military basis all over the region specifically for the 
Colombia Plan, including the largest US military basis of Latin America in 
Manta (Ecuador) and many other basis in countries as far apart as El 
Salvador. They have also received permission from the Dutch government to 
use the military basis in the Dutch colony of Curacao (in the Venezuelan 
coast) to bomb the region. This whole shit is a remake of the Vietnam war, 
but this time with extensive use of genetically modified biological weapons 
and a much deeper involvement of European governments and companies. In 
another message you will find an excellent summary of the discussions that 
took place in Prague about the Colombia Plan and the campaign ideas, done 
by some folks in Bristol (with the help of an article on the issue by 
Chomsky). 

We propose to start in Geneva a process of discussion on how to give shape 
to the campaign against Plan Colombia in Europe, on the basis of the 
proposals that come from the Colombian movements (black, indigenous and 
peasant). An important element of these proposals is a speakers tour of 
Colombians in Europe, that the PCN has proposed to hold from the 19th of 
January till the end of February (in order to also participate in the anti-WEF 
actions). There will be 6 representatives of black communities travelling 
around Europe in groups of 2 (one man and one woman) and hopefully there 
will be some representatives of indigenous and peasant movements with 
them (but this is not confirmed yet). We would like to start discussing these 
tours and the other proposals of the Colombians in Geneva. We hope that 
the groups working on the mobilisation against the WEF will consider 
making Colombia an important issue in the protests. 

Alfonso will arrive to Europe before the meeting in Geneva: on Wednesday 
the 13th he will participate in an event at the European Parliament in 
Strasbourg, together with two other Colombians: an adviser of the National 
Peasant Council, and an indigenous person who has just been elected 
governor of Cauca for the first time in colombian histoty (one of the most 
violent and colonial regions of Colombia, in the North of the Pacific coast; he 
was the candidate of a coalition of indigenous, black, peasant and other 
social movements). On the evening of the same day he will speak at the KTS 
of Freiburg, most possibly also with the other two persons from Colombia 
(this is still to be confirmed).  If you want to attend that meeting, get in touch 
with desaparecido@gmx.de

a few individuals supporting the PCN 

below you'll find background info on the Plan Colombia and the call by the 
PCN at the very end (pt 4)


Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000 17:47:49  0000
From: "Guy Debord" <nrk666@angelfire.com>
Subject: Plan Colombia Meeting

 PLAN COLOMBIA: DISTIBUTE WITH WILL

STOP THE WAR IN COLUMBIA! STOP US MILITARY INTERVENTION! 
STOP BIOLOGICAL WARFARE!

Hi folks. This rather lengthy e-mail gives a brief explanation of Plan Colombia 
and the horrors that it will bring to Latin America. The meeting in Bristol is to 
discuss how to build a global resistance movement to the Plan. How to 
realise the struggle in our own terms and in our own countries, and to 
discuss what practical steps can be taken to stop it. This IS the Vietnam for 
our generation. So let's do something to stop it.

If you don't have time to read it all, the beggining of section 3 gives a brief 
overview, with the rest of it covering the issues in more detail. 

1) MEETING PLACE [not included]
2) MEETING STRUCTURE [not included]

3) OVERVIEW OF PLAN COLOMBIA
4) CALL BY PCN (Process of Black Communities) 

PRAGUE FEEDBACK
At the S26 demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank in Prague, 
community leaders from the Black Autonomous Communities of Colombia 
were present, as were their companeros from Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras 
and Panama. Coming from some of the poorest areas in Latin America, they 
told a tale of repression, ethnocide and ecocide. Of a war being waged 
against them under the guise of the USA's "War on Drugs". Of community 
leaders massacred by government-backed CIA trained paramilitaries. Of 
mass displacements and disappearances. What happens after 
displacement? Time for the good old US-based multinationals to move in. 
Sound familiar?

NOTE ON PCN

PCN (Proceso de Comunidades Negras) are planning an improvised Tour 
through Europe in December/January. The PCN is trying to internationalise 
its struggle. PCN is at a stage of developing an international strategy which it 
would like to develop in co-operation with 'us'. In Prague the following aims 
and areas of work were identified:

Creating international visibility and legitimacy:

The armed conflict in Colombia has lead to an apparent polarisation between 
guerrilla and State - as the only two actors in the conflict, leaving several 
other sectors of society and social struggles invisible.

informing as much as possible about the situation in Colombia, the true 
impact of Plan Colombia on people and nature and the true motivations 
behind this war - the cruellest form of capitalism,.

Their ancestors have taught them a saying " I am because we are" (soy 
porque somos) meaning that an individual can only be free if the people 
around are free too. This was a fundamental principle in the struggle against 
slavery which built their movements. Now in this age of globalised capitalism 
they said their struggle for freedom can only be successful if other struggles 
for freedom succeed to. They would like to develop new forms of 
International solidarity based on that principle.

PLAN COLUMBIA

In 1999, Colombia became the leading recipient of U.S. military and police 
assistance. Clinton's recently approved Colombia Plan escalates this 
situation, with a $1.6 billion "emergency aid" package - mostly in the form of 
military aid. The EU is also participating in the Columbia Plan.

Columbia has had an ongoing civil war for over three decades. Quite 
predictably, the announcement of the Colombia Plan led to counter 
measures by the guerrillas. This will lead to military escalation, rather than 
peace.

The Colombia Plan is officially justified in terms of the "drug war". However, 
the targets of the Colombia Plan are the guerrilla forces based and the 
peasantry and indigenous people who are calling for internal social change. 
This would interfere with how the States want Colombia integrated into its 
neoliberal plans for world domination and corporate expropriation of 
Colombia's valuable resources, including oil.

It's the same old story with the usual suspects. Multinationals, backed by 
Western governments and the World Bank and IMF are rubbing their greedy 
hands over their plans for Colombia. With privatisation of national industries, 
water and power utilities and the opportunity to steal lots of land off the 
locals - they have a lot of money to make. The people who oppose this 
become the real targets of US-backed oppression. The reports coming out 
tell the horrors of CIA trained paramilitaries who seem to have graduated with 
flying colours from the School Of Americas. Chopping up people in 
massacres, cutting unborn children from their still-living mothers wombs, 
violent scenes of torture and death. The message to the communities is 
clear: "Mess with us, and this is what you'll get."

When scrutinising Plan Colombia, we should ask a few questions. If the US 
wants to give alternatives, other from the drug industry, to the Colombian 
people, then why does the Plan include only token funding for alternative 
crops? If Clinton is serious about attacking the drug lords (narcos), why do 
the counterinsurgency battalions target and attack the weakest and most 
socially fragile link of the drug chain: the production by peasants, settlers 
and indigenous people? Why is more not done back home to stamp out 
drugs in the States, oh, and why is Uncle Sam not too bothered about 
stopping the money from the drug trade ending up in US coffers - 90 per cent 
of "laundered" narcodollars stay in America? Maybe, there's another agenda 
being served.


FUMIGATION AND THE GENTICALLY MODIFIED FUTURE

The Clinton administration also insists that any peace agreement must 
permit crop destruction measures and other U.S. counternarcotics 
operations in Colombia. The same is true of the chemical and biological 
weapons that Washington employs. These measures multiply the dangers to 
the civilian population, the environment, and legal agriculture. They destroy 
legal food crops like yucca and bananas, water sources, pastures, livestock 
and all the crops included in coca crop substitution programs. There are also 
uncertain but potentially severe effects on the fragile tropical rainforest 
environment, which contains significant parts of the planet's biodiversity. 

The genetically modified mycoherbicide used to destroy coca plantations - 
part developed at the Long Ashton Research Institute in Bristol - will 
financially benefit the corporations that will mass-produce it for the Plan. The 
same will be said for the parasitic multinationals that will move in to 
"develop" the areas devastated by the ecocide. At the end of the day, the Fat 
Cats get fatter, while the population starves.

Since the fumigation of coca crops began a couple of years ago, cocaine 
production has rocketed, alongside the rapid increase in massacres (which 
is almost doubling year on year).

SIMILAR SITUATION THROUGHOUT THE REGION

Much the same is true throughout the Andean region. For instance, there is 
a similar situation developing in Bolivia, with "Plan Dignidad". This is being 
met by widespread resistance. Additionally, anti drug spraying programs are 
developing in Thailand and Afghanistan. The whole of Latin America is under 
threat as the United States' global police force readies itself for war.

GENERAL SITUATION IN COLUMBIA

Through the 1990s, Colombia has been the leading recipient of U.S. military 
aid in Latin America, and has also compiled the worst human rights record.  
In Colombia, however, the military armed and trained by the United States 
has not crushed domestic resistance, though it continues to produce its 
regular annual toll of atrocities. Each year, some 300,000 new refugees are 
driven from their homes, with a death toll of about 3,000 and many horrible 
massacres. The great majority of atrocities are attributed to the paramilitary 
forces. a UN study reported that the Colombian security forces that are to be 
greatly strengthened by the Colombia Plan maintain an intimate relationship 
with death-squads, organise paramilitary forces, and either participate in their 
massacres directly or, by failing to take action. The rate of killings had 
increased by almost 20 percent over the preceding year, and that the 
proportion attributable to the paramilitaries had risen from 46 percent in 1995 
to almost 80 percent in 1998, continuing through 1999. 68 percent increase 
in massacres in the first half of 1999 as compared to the same period of 
1998, reaching more than one a day, overwhelmingly attributed to 
paramilitaries.
prominent human rights activists continue to flee abroad under death threats. 
several trade unionists are murdered every week, mostly by paramilitaries 
supported by the government security forces. Forced displacement in 1998 
was 20 percent above 1997, and increased in 1999. Colombia now has the 
largest displaced population in the world.

Hailed as a leading democracy by Clinton and other U.S. leaders and 
political commentators, Colombia did at last permit an independent party to 
challenge the elite system of power-sharing. The fact that about 3,000 
activists from this party were assassinated shows the outrageousness of 
these claims. Meanwhile, shameful socio-economic conditions persist, 
leaving much of the population in misery in a rich country with concentration 
of wealth and land-ownership that is high even by Latin American standards. 
The situation became worse in the 1990s as a result of the neoliberal 
reforms". Approximately 55 percent of Colombia's population lives below the 
poverty level.

Ten years ago, as U.S.-backed state terror was increasing sharply, the 
Minister of Defense called for "total war in the political, economic, and social 
arenas," while another high military official explained that guerrillas were of 
secondary importance: "the real danger" is "what the insurgents have called 
the political and psychological are," the war "to control the popular elements" 
and "to manipulate the masses." The "subversives" hope to influence unions, 
universities, media, and so on.

POLITICS OF DRUGS IN COLUMBIA

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that "all branches 
of government" in Colombia are involved in "drug-related corruption." Other 
observers have also reported the heavy involvement of the military in 
narcotrafficking, and the U.S. military has also been drawn in. The 
paramilitaries openly proclaim their reliance on the drug business. However, 
the U.S. and Latin American press report, "the US-financed attack stays 
clear of the areas controlled by paramilitary forces," though "the leader of the 
paramilitaries [Carlos Castano] acknowledged last week in a television 
interview that the drug trade provided 70 percent of the group's funding."

In standard U.S. terminology, the FARC forces are "narco-guerrillas," a 
useful concept as a cover for counterinsurgency, but one that has been 
sharply criticised on factual grounds. It is agreed-and FARC leaders say-that 
they rely for funding on coca production, which they tax, as they tax other 
businesses. But "'The guerrillas are something different from the traffickers,' 
says Klaus Nyholm, who runs the UN Drug Control Program," which has 
agents throughout the drug producing regions. He describes the local FARC 
fronts as "quite autonomous." In some areas "they are not involved at all" in 
coca production and in others "they actively tell the farmers not to grow 
[coca]."

WHY DRUGS IN COLUMBIA?

Why do peasants in Colombia grow cocaine, not other crops? The reasons 
are well known. Peasants grow coca because of the crisis in the agricultural 
sector of Latin American countries, escalated by the general economic crisis 
in the region. There ard other factors that operate to increase coca 
production. Colombia was once a major wheat producer. However, due to 
developments in free trade and the globalised economy, wheat production 
has been undermined.  A year before President Bush announced the "drug 
war" with great fanfare (once again), the international coffee agreement was 
suspended under U.S. pressure, on grounds of "fair trade violations." The 
result was a fall of prices of more than 40 percent within two months for 
Colombia's leading legal export.

GLOBAL POLITICS OF DRUGS

In the 1960s, many third world governments (acting through UNCTAD-United 
Nations Commission on Trade and Development)  proposed a "new 
international economic order" in which the needs of the large majority of 
people of the world would be a prominent concern. One proposal was a 
program for stabilising commodity prices for third world products (e.g. coffee, 
sugar, bananas etc)- a practice that is standard within the industrial 
countries by means of one or another form of subsidy. However, this was 
successfully resisted by agribusiness and now free trade has ensured that 
those with market power in the food chain (from energy corporations to 
retailers) are enjoying great profits while the agricultural crisis, which is real, 
is concentrated in the middle of the chain, among  smaller farmers, who 
produce the food farmers are therefore compelled to turn to crops for which 
there is a stable market. The result is that drug entrepreneurs can easily find 
farmers eager to grow coca, cannabis or opium for which there is always a 
ready market in the rich societies. Furthermore, IMF-World Bank programs 
demand that countries open their borders to a flood of (heavily subsidised) 
agricultural products from the rich countries, with the obvious effect of 
undermining local production. Those displaced are either driven to urban 
slums (thus lowering wage rates for foreign investors) or instructed to 
become "rational peasants," producing for the export market and seeking the 
highest prices-which translates as "coca, cannabis, opium." Having learned 
their lessons properly, they are rewarded by attack by military gunships 
while their fields are destroyed by chemical and biological warfare, courtesy 
of Washington and European governments.

DRUGS, TOBACCO, AND HYPOCRISY

The US Supreme Court recently concluded that it has been "amply 
demonstrated" that tobacco use is "perhaps the single most significant 
threat to public health in the United States," responsible for more than 
400,000 deaths a year, more than AIDS, car accidents, alcohol, homicides, 
illegal drugs, suicides, and fires combined." As use of this lethal substance 
has declined in the U.S. companies have shifted to markets abroad, such as 
Columbia. In comparison to the 400,000 deaths caused by tobacco every 
year in the United States, "drug"-related deaths reached a record 16,000 in 
1997. Tobacco products are not only forced on countries, but also advertising 
for them, under threat of trade sanctions. The Colombian cartels, in contrast, 
are not permitted to run huge advertising campaigns in which a Joe Camel-
counterpart extols the wonders of cocaine.

DRUGS AND POVERY AT HOME

Furthermore, only 4 out of 10 "drug" addicts who needed treatment received 
it, according to a White House report. The seriousness of concern over use 
of drugs was illustrated when a House Committee was considering the 
Clinton Colombia Plan. It rejected an amendment calling for funding of drug 
demand reduction services. It is well known that these are far more effective 
than forceful measures. But the inexpensive and effective path will not be 
followed. Rather, the drug war targets alike poor peasants in southern 
countries and poor people in northern countries. While Clinton's Colombia 
Plan was being formulated, senior administration officials discussed a 
proposal by the Office of Budget and Management to take $100 million from 
the $1.3 billion then planned for Colombia, to be used for treatment of U.S. 
addicts. There was near-unanimous opposition, particularly from the US 
"drug czar".  Since 1980 "the war on drugs" has shifted to punishing 
offenders, border surveillance, and fighting production at the source 
countries. One consequence, both in Europe and North America, is the 
enormous increase in drug-related (often victimless) crimes and an explosion 
in the prison population, with no detectable effect on availability or price of 
drugs.

4) CALL FROM THE PROCESS OF BLACK COMMUNITIES

The war in Columbia, killing and displacement of the black population 
Columbia is a country of 37 million inhabitants, of which 30% (that is to say 
9,210,000) are black people descended from slaves. Through a process of 
struggle and resistance lasting more than 3 centuries we have achieved our 
liberty, fleeing towards mountains, valleys and coasts which the European 
conquerors had not yet reached. During  the process of adaptation and 
survival in an unknown world, which has lasted hundreds of years, the free 
blacks  were able to create their own world and culture.

After this period of liberation, exclusion and racism are what have marked the 
relation of Colombians towards the black population. The draining of 
resources from our territories by large multinationals, the alienation of our 
culture, the oppressing conditions of absolute poverty and the denial of all 
social, economic, political and cultural rights are just some of the ways that 
this exclusion expresses itself.

Today, in the internal war which Columbia has been going through for several 
decades,  black people have been condemned to a silent extermination. This 
has been imposed by the state and economic groups, at the same time as 
the population are denied of their individual and collective rights. This 
situation has evolved from the uprooting, enchaining, exporting and selling of 
black people like animals in America,  so as to consolidate the conquests 
which made the northern countries powerful. At the beginning of this new 
millennium the black people of Colombia are facing ETHNOCIDE; this is 
being perpetuated by the different actors in the war.

The areas where violent expulsion of the population is occurring correspond 
to the strategic zones of the war. A million black people have been displaced 
from their lands (up till 1st October 2000), which are being occupied by 
outsiders who accept the authority of the armed groups and the state and 
are apostles of an economic and political model based in exclusion and 
which generates destruction and death for the bearers of cultures which are 
thousands of years old.

The historic project of the black people has its cultural, territorial, 
environmental and social basis. Its  struggle consists in the defense of these 
areas in which we have lived since ancestral times; created and recreated 
our culture throughout our history in Colombia and America. We, Black 
people are demanding the government gives collective community titles; we 
are struggling  for the strengthening of our identity and autonomy which 
demands the ability to freely decide our own ways of  life in accordance with 
our aspirations and our identity as a people.  The capitalist State of 
Colombia has turned the organised black communities - who are struggling 
for the defense of territory as a way of life and their cultural principles such 
as identity - into victims of racism, poverty, marginalisation and military 
targets of armed groups who defend the interest of  politicians, large land 
owners, drug traffickers and businessmen. These look for the irrational 
exploitation of mineral resources, the destruction of biodiversity, the 
implementation of tourist projects, ports, canals, agroindustrial projects, 
industrial logging, energy infrastructure....

After slavery, displacement is the most criminal aggression against the black 
population of Columbia and America. Displacement is a result of intimidation 
and massacres; it results in invisibility; the loss of territories,   the loss of 
access to natural resources, the tearing apart of families, solidarity, self 
esteem, and the right to live in peace in accordance with our traditions, 
customs and cultural aspirations.

We demand the different actors in the war in Columbia to stop the armed 
conflict, respect their autonomy, their fundamental rights and not to fight in 
their territories. We call on the international community to accompany us, to 
show solidarity and to struggle with us to consolidate, in this capitalist world; 
the territories of the black population in accordance with the teaching of their 
ancestors: the territory is the space where you can be and remain; where 
your ideals and your own history remains, where life, happiness hope and 
freedom will reign.

Process of Black Communities
Prague, September 26th 2000

PCNKolombia@hotmail.com


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