Thus, in a November 19, 2009 U.S. Embassy Cable, entitled, “2009-2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,” the U.S. Embassy in Bogota acknowledges, as a mere aside, the horrific truth: 257,089 registered victims of the right-wing paramilitaries. And, as Human Rights Watch just reported in its 2012 annual report on Colombia, these paramilitaries continue to work hand-in-glove with the U.S.-supported Colombian military.
Even for those of us deeply involved in Colombia, this figure is staggering. The only time I saw such a figure before was in a book (Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror) which I recently reviewed on this site, and which cites one independent journalist for the claim that around 250,000 victims have been killed by the Colombian para-state. This book further claims that this number has been artificially lowered through mass graves and Nazi-style crematoria.
It appears now that the U.S. has been quite aware of this death toll for over two years, though this knowledge has done nothing to change U.S. policy toward Colombia — which is slated to receive over $500 million in military and police aid from the U.S. in the next two years — and certainly did nothing to prevent the Obama Administration from seeking and gaining passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement last year.
And, much like Guatemala in the 1980’s, the violence in Colombia falls disproportionately on the indigenous population – another fact acknowledged by the U.S. Embassy in cables released by Wikileaks. Moreover, this anti-indigenous violence is escalating. Indeed, as the U.S. Embassy acknowledges in a February 26, 2010 Embassy Cable entitled, “Violence Against Indigenous Shows Upward Trend,” such violence is pushing 34 indigenous groups to the point of extinction. This violence, therefore, can only be described as genocidal.