MAC: Mines and Communities

No Money for Uribe's War Against the Colombian People

Published by MAC on 2003-06-19

No Money for Uribe's War Against the Colombian People

London, 19th June 2003

Tony Blair is convening a meeting on 10th July of EU states, the US, World Bank and IMF. The title of the meeting is "London Meeting on International Support for Colombia", but its actual purpose is to raise support for the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, which presides over the worst human rights abuses in the western hemisphere. We call for no aid go to Uribe's repressive regime and instead urge direct international solidarity with the Colombian people.

VIGIL 4pm - 7pm Wednesday 9th July

PICKET from 2pm with RALLY 6pm - 8pm Thursday 10th July

Both in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, London SW1

Why does Uribe need more aid? The Colombian authorities count on the support of the USA through Plan Colombia and the Andean Regional Initiative to pursue their policy of war against the people. Colombia is already the second biggest recipient of US military aid in the world, and is home to thousands of US troops and private military personnel. It has just been revealed that the Pentagon spent $150 million in 2002 on private contract operations involving 300 US mercenaries in Colombia. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Uribe is seeking international assistance, while at the same time he seeks to formalise his relations with paramilitary groups, offering them pardons for drug trafficking and crimes against humanity, crimes that have enjoyed the most complete official impunity in the country’s history, in their war against the Colombian people and their social organisations.

More aid to Uribe will worsen the human rights situation. There are 3 million displaced people, forced from their land by paramilitary violence, and twice this number have fled the country. There are 8,000 politically motivated assassinations every year, the UN estimates that the state and their paramilitary allies are responsible for more than 80% of them. The vast majority of the victims are unarmed civilians. Last year 184 trade unionists were assassinated. Human rights defenders, women’s organisations, black and indigenous groups are also singled out by paramilitary violence.

Violations are especially acute in the oil rich department of Arauca, where for the last two months three hundred Guahíbo indigenous people have occupied the Central Catholic Church in Saravena. They fled their homes as a result of attacks committed by the Nava Pardo Battalion of the 18th Brigade of the National Army. On 31st December soldiers wearing AUC armbands came to their village in Tame. They killed a man and took off his two year old daughter. They raped four females aged 11, 12, 15 and 16 years old. Omaira Fernández was pregnant. Then, as human rights workers report, "the people had to look on horrified as the supposed 'paramilitaries' opened up her womb, took out the foetus, sliced it up, put the pieces in a plastic bag and threw them into the river along with the mother". Tame lies between three zones being taken over by US corporation Occidental, the Spanish multinational Repsol, and BP whose expanding Casanare operation is moving towards Tame.

Uribe's Colombia - a heavy hand on the poor but a kind heart for the multinationals. Multinational companies, drug traffickers, land owners and their paramilitary allies, all with the blessing of Uribe’s government, expand their ownership of the most important land, the natural resources and biodiversity which historically has been the property of indigenous, black and peasant farmer communities. The army and paramilitaries force these people from the land through terror, for the benefit of projects such as the Atrato-Truando interoceanic canal and the search for oil and other minerals. Companies such as BP, Anglo American and Occidental, are responsible not only for a massive lobby of the US Congress for war in Colombia, but stand accused of profiting from the severest human rights violations and abuses.

Contrary to EU policy, fumigations with glysophate continue across the country, causing irreversible environmental damage to land and river systems, and further deepening the crisis of displacement. The so called "zones of rehabilitation and consolidation" are nothing more than areas of military dictatorship, where all civil rights have been replaced by military rule. Travel restrictions and curfews have been introduced, along with press censorship and arbitrary detentions of the social and political leaders. State and para-state violence is greater than ever before in these zones.

Where will any assistance to Uribe end up? In strengthening repressive State organisations and corruption. The government of Alvaro Uribe seeks further economic assistance for Plan Colombia and its project of "Democratic Security" and has turned to the European Union, and to Jose Maria Aznar and Tony Blair, the unconditional allies of George Bush. Of particular concern is Uribe's own and many of his cronies' well documented links to drug trafficking and to paramilitary terrorism. The recently created "campesino soldier" network is a national version of the Convivir, the legalised paramilitary groups set up and supported by the current President when he was governor of Antioquia. The Convivir were responsible for thousands of selected assassinations and terrorising civilian society until they were finally outlawed by the Constitutional Court. Today, well known, self confessed paramilitaries are being transferred to the "campesino soldier" networks. The creation of a 1 million strong informers network, that stretches to Colombian communities abroad is undermining the very social fabric of the country, leading to social breakdown, mistrust, and widely reported abuses by the military, and is further involving the civilian population in Colombia’s internal conflict.

We call for international solidarity with the Colombian people. It is important to widen ties of solidarity with international organisations to denounce events in Colombia, and to prevent funds from the European Union supporting the war that Alvaro Uribe has declared on his own people in support of national and international capital. And to impose projects such as the FTAA that threatens to impose even more suffering and exploitation on the people of Latin America.

The Colombian people understand the need for international solidarity as one of the many forms of struggle against Uribe’s repressive and neoliberal policies, summed up by his referendum to legitimise his own rule, restrict political and social rights and to conform to the IMF plan for privatisation and higher taxes. The regressive reforms and labour flexibility that Uribe has imposed are of particular concern, affecting both public and private workers such as judges, teachers in schools and universities, public service workers at Emcali, Empresas Publicas de Medellin, Telecom, Ecopetrol and metal workers. Their labour, social and political rights are disappearing and their leaders are persecuted, imprisoned, murdered or disappeared as a consequence of the criminalisation of social protest.

The justified aspiration of the Colombian people for peace and social justice will not be achieved through increased military intervention and internal repression, but through dialogue, negotiation, and participation of broad sectors of the population. This would allow for a true examination of the underlying socio-economic and political causes that give rise to the contemporary conflict. The government of Alvaro Uribe Velez seeks to obscure these issues by hiding behind the language of the ‘war on drugs and terror’, and the International Community must not allow itself to be fooled into supporting policies that will only lead to further misery and bloodshed.

No More War for Oil, Mr Blair!
No Aid to Uribe Velez!
Uribe Velez - Weapon of Mass Destruction!

Protest Against the London Meeting to support Uribe!

Colombian Refugee Association
Colombia Solidarity Campaign
International Centre for Trade Union Rights
Latin America Solidarity Collective Against US Intervention in Colombia
Latin American Workers Association

More info: PO Box 8446, London N17 6NZ.

e-mail or telephone 07743 743041

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