Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bush, Colombia & Narco-Politics

By Andrés Cala March 9, 2008 (Originally published August 8, 2007)
George W. Bush's strategy of countering Venezuela's leftist president Hugo Chávez by strengthening ties to Colombia's rightist government has been undercut by fresh evidence of high-level drug corruption and human rights violations implicating President Alvaro Uribe's inner circle.

These new allegations about Colombia's narco-politics have tarnished Uribe's reputation just as Bush has been showcasing the Harvard- and
Oxford-educated politician as a paragon of democratic values and an
alternative to the firebrand Chávez, who has used Venezuela's oil
wealth to finance social programs for the poor across the region.

Despite the corruption disclosures - and Uribe's failure to stem Colombian cocaine smuggling to the United States - the Bush administration continues to shower Uribe's government with trade incentives and billions of dollars in military and development aid.

With other regional leaders unwilling to side with the United States against Chávez, Bush may see little alternative but to stay the course with the 55-year-old Uribe and hope Colombia's corruption doesn't draw too much attention in the United States or across South America.

Ironically, the latest evidence against Uribe's government emerged from a U.S.-backed peace process that offered leniency to right-wing
paramilitary death squads and their financial backers in exchange for giving up their guns and disclosing past crimes.

The right-wing paramilitaries and their cocaine-trafficking benefactors testified that elements of the Colombian government collaborated in a decade-long scorched-earth campaign that killed almost 10,000 civilians while seeking to dislodge a leftist guerrilla army known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The confessions include blood-soaked tales of political murders, cocaine smuggling and staggering government corruption. As a result, dozens of former and current congressmen, governors, government ministers, military officers, prominent business leaders and multinational corporations are being investigated or have been arrested.

This so-called "para-scandal" revealed that a counterinsurgency force, known as the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, or AUC, collaborated with drug lords to control the cocaine trade and simultaneously worked with Colombia's elites, including Uribe's family, to fend off the guerrilla threat.

Another troubling offshoot of the peace process was the creation of a safe haven for drug lords, who flocked to a 370-square-kilometer sanctuary set up for the AUC.

No comments:

Edward A. Villarreal. Powered by Blogger.


Total Pageviews