Snapshots

Colombia’s Disappeared » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

The cover of Colombia’s Semana magazine depicts a photo which should warm the cockles of any decent heart: the indigenous people of Cauca carrying an armed soldier, one of many who had invaded their land, away from their town. The story of the resistance in Cauca was simply amazing, as indigenous, armed with nothing more than sticks, chased away the U.S.-funded military and physically dismantled the barracks they had just set up. Yet, the editors of Semana were not overjoyed with this scene, instead referring to it as a “tragedy,” and asking how it could be that indigenous peoples would drive out the very military which purports to protect them.

Of course, the question answers itself . The indigenous do not see the military as their protectors; rather, they seem them for what they are – invaders come to take their ancestral land from them as they have taken it away from hundreds of thousands of others indigenous who disproportionately make up Colombia’s over 5 million internally-displaced peoples — the largest internally displaced population on the face of the earth. And, the Obama Administration itself – which is funding the military’s counterinsurgency campaign in Colombia, very well knows the feelings of the indigenous on this subject.

Thus, as the U.S. Embassy acknowledges in a February 26, 2010 Embassy Cable released by Wikileaks, indigenous tribes have asked that the Colombian military to withdraw from their land because it is the military’s very presence which “’brings the conflict to the backyard of the indigenous,’” thereby putting their lives and very existence at risk. Yet, in this same cable, entitled “Violence Against Indigenous Shows Upward Trend,” the Embassy characterizes this request for military withdrawal from indigenous land, which the Embassy acknowledges is “sacred to their [the indigenous’] cultural identity,” as “impractical.” And, the U.S. Embassy explains why this is so, stating that “capital investments in the mining of hydrocarbons sectors” as well as “investments in rubber [and] palm oil” – that is, the very investments which U.S. military policy is designed to promote – demand that this land be subdued by the military. The fact that, as this Embassy cable acknowledges, 34 indigenous groups are being driven to the point of extinction as a result, does not change this game plan. (Of course, given the U.S.’s efficient genocide which wiped out its own indigenous population – much more thoroughly, it should be noted, than the Spanish did in Latin America — this should not be surprising).

In the case of Cauca, the military, ejected by the indigenous with minimal violence (no military personnel were killed though the military itself killed 2 indigenous in fighting expulsion), re-captured the area with the overwhelming force of 28,000 troops. And, the Colombian government, as it is of wont to do, vilified the indigenous uprising, claiming that it was somehow inspired, if not instigated, by the left-wing FARC guerillas — this, despite the fact that the indigenous called for the FARC to leave their area as well. And, it should be noted that the FARC agreed to withdraw from the land if the military and paramilitaries removed themselves too.

This type of vilification – designating any political opposition, even if peaceful, as somehow linked to the guerillas — is a long-standing tactic of the U.S. and Colombian government to justify their own brutality. And, sadly, this tactic is quite effective even at misleading the U.S. left and progressive forces, and in convincing them to refrain from supporting struggles which deserve to be supported.

An example of this phenomenon which I have personal knowledge of involves the peasant union in Colombia known as FENSUAGRO, the second largest union in Colombia. FENSUAGRO has a long and proud history of peaceful resistance in Colombia and is one of the most outspoken groups in support of a negotiated peace process with the guerillas. And, FENSUAGRO has paid dearly for its activism. Thus, 5 out of the 11 unionists killed this year in Colombia have been from FENSUAGRO. One of these unionists, Herman Henry Diaz, was disappeared, only his clothes found on a road connecting two different military bases. FENSUAGRO believes that Mr. Diaz was killed by the military which controls the area in which he was taken, but, without a body, the truth will probably never be known.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Colombia’s Disappeared » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

About mexika.org (948 Articles)
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