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any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents,
Questions Gerry Adams could have asked the US Congress about the 'Andean Regional Initiative'
May 4, 2002
Yellow rags - the daily news and websites presenting 'noteworthy' stories - are rife with prolix accounts of Gerry Adams' declination to attend the US House International Relations Committee hearing, sensationalist speculation on the alleged connection between the IRA and FARC, and fist-pounding rhetoric about the concomitant threat this poses for US national interests in Colombia. There are sinister murmurs on the wind, word of a bigger war in Latin America, one not so easily disguised. After more than fifty years of unrelenting misery for Colombians while a narrow slant on the news was delivered from a comfortable distance, corporate media bureaus are in a sudden rush to get close to the heat. "As recently as last year, major U.S. newspapers were loath to send their reporters to Colombia. Ironically, the U.S. news corps is moving in at a time when everyone in Colombia wants out." (Cotts)
The news of Adams' decision not to testify on behalf of the three Irish men at the inquiry about their presence in Colombia must have been important to the jailed Connolly, Monaghan, and McCauley as they await a non-jury trial. Adams refused to testify, but Colombia's Commander-in-chief General Fernando Tapias and President Andrés Pastrana did. And without investigating their acts, motivations, and connections in Colombia's terror, Tapias' and Pastrana's testimonies were considered seriously by the majority of the House Committee. "The hearing last week produced strong evidence as far as we are concerned," a senior member of staff on the International Affairs Committee told the Telegraph. (O'Driscoll)
Adams' failure to comply with the request must have been important to the chairman of the congressional committee conducting the hearing, Representative Henry Hyde (Republican-Illinois/6th District), who said "We are interested in learning what the U.S. government believes were IRA activities with FARC narco-terrorists in Colombia, and what impact these activities have had on U.S. national interests - including the threat to U.S. personnel on the ground and to Colombian democracy."
In strongly-worded statements regarding Gerry Adams' rejection of the invitation to speak, Representative Hyde said that Adams missed "an opportunity to offer some explanation about why two IRA explosives experts and a Sinn Fein political officer stationed in Cuba were arrested last August following a visit to a safe haven controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, a designated terrorist organisation." "FARC and other narco-terrorist groups in Colombia are responsible for 90% of the cocaine and 70% of the heroin sold on America's streets." "Terrorism imperils Colombian democracy, and the alleged IRA role in helping groups like the FARC to perpetuate this violence poses a direct threat to US national interests."
Adams' rebuff was important, but it was more important for details that have been left unsaid. One of the things Gerry Adams missed was the particular opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Hyde and other members of the US congressional committee about the background wiles that fuel Colombia's terror.
Bush's draft for millions more in funding for Plan Colombia, recently transformed into the Andean Regional Initiative, was passed by the House of Representatives and several bills are being reviewed currently in the Senate. White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said "The important thing is that the job gets done and they proceed in a way that won't impede passage of important trade measures" (Abrams), and she was being honest about the desire to move it through fast. Besides having several other items attached to it to lure Democrats, this bill gives Bush what he wants and "what has been denied since 1994...the 'fast track' power to negotiate global and hemispheric trade deals without the risk of their being shredded by Congress." (Dewar) After this deal is done, Congress can vote 'yes' or 'no', but they can't amend trade agreements. Not surprisingly, a coalition of lobbyists representing the 2 trillion dollar trade flow in agriculture, high-tech manufacturing, and retail are behind the fast track trade bills; co-chairs are executives from Proctor and Gamble, Boeing, and Caterpillar.
And just who is behind the Andean Regional policy? Here's who: "It is no wonder the Bush policy in Colombia is antithetical to a lasting peace. Gangsters from the old Reagan slash-and-burn days are back at the helm in Latin America. Elliott Abrams is currently the National Security Council's Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America for most of the Reagan years. He deceived three congressional committees about the Reagan administration's support for murder in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Facing felony charges in the Iran-contra scandal, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. Otto Reich, Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is an anti-Castro fanatic from way back. During the Reagan years, Reich headed the Office of Diplomacy, a State Department agency that illegally funded pro-contra propaganda. And to round out the skullduggery trifecta, Bush appointed John Negroponte as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Negroponte was U.S. Ambassador to Honduras when the contras were supplied and illegally armed by the Reagan administration. During his tenure, he consistently denied the existence of death squads and political persecution in Honduras both of which flourished while he was in charge. Negroponte got his start in the diplomatic corps as a political affairs officer at the US Embassy in Saigon and an aide to Henry Kissinger during the Vietnam War." (Orlando)
In view of Representative
Hyde's remarks - "U.S. national interests", "threat to U.S.
personnel on the ground and to Colombian democracy", "role in helping
groups like FARC to perpetuate this violence poses a direct threat to US national
interests" - Adams might have attended the congressional committee
hearing just for the chance to ask those galling questions which expose the
moral bankruptcy of the ruling class:
1. Why do you, Mr. Hyde, Congresswomen, Congressmen, refer to "US national interests in Colombia" as if The Republic of Colombia was not a sovereign nation in the continent of South America but part of the territory of the United States of America?
2. Why do you say "violence [in Colombia] poses a direct threat to US national interests" which provokes an immediate visceral response from the citizens of America, uninformed in large measure about the truthful and complete details of the Colombian situation, who are still grieving and fearful after their actual national interests - New York, NY, Washington, DC, and the airspace over the State of Pennsylvania - were violently attacked on 9/11?
3. If your use of the words "US national interests" was in reference to the Pentagon's massive military budget and private capitalists' global monopolies ravaging Colombia with impunity, without the understanding and therefore without the informed consent of American taxpayers but with their tax dollars used as protection money for the private security costs of overseas corporations, 'corporate welfare', why did you not just say so?
4. If your use of the words "US national interests" was in reference to the influx of drugs to the United States from Colombia, why is the Committee, and consequently, media reporting, focused only on FARC when it has been established that drug economy-related corruption - drug trafficking, prostitution, paid assassination - has infiltrated the highest levels of the Colombian government and penetrated all levels of society, and support of drug-trafficking right-wing guerrillas by US allies belies an exclusive commitment to fighting the multi-billion dollar 'war on drugs'?
In view of the facts that: US Customs and DEA inspectors have caught 415 kg of cocaine and 6 kg of heroin entering the US via a Colombian Air Force plane; a US Army Colonel, the former commander of the US counterinsurgency drug training in Colombia, was sentenced lightly for "lying to his superiors, lying to investigators, systematically laundering money and was, at the very least, complicit in trafficking drugs" (Vázquez) in his cover-up of his wife's smuggling of approximately $700,000 worth of cocaine into New York, and was sentenced the same day that the Clinton 'aid' package of $1.3 billion in military aid to Colombia for the period of 2000-2001 was signed; you say "90% of the cocaine and 70% of the heroin sold on America's streets comes from narco-terrorists in Colombia; and, it is apparent that US personnel have also been influenced by drug-related corruption at the highest levels, do you think the US focus of the 'war on drugs' should instead be on why Colombia is infested with a drug economy - as is the United States, exactly how and where drugs exit Colombia and enter the United States, and perhaps on the reasons why?
Since it has been established that "very very very poor" peasants turn to coca production because of no economic alternatives, laboratories producing drugs are located in areas where there are no self-defense forces or guerrillas on patrol, and aircraft transporting drugs out of the country are permitted to land at registered airports in the United States and elsewhere, what are US dollars funding in the 'war on drugs'?
5. A substantial portion of the billions in funding for Colombian 'aid' goes to the cost of aerial eradication of coca fields, purchasing herbicides, and providing military back-up for the spray operation. Aerial fumigation has destroyed the health of the people, their water supply, their livestock, their fragile ecosystem, and their subsistence food crops resulting in an increase in displacement, migration to forested areas, and forest-clearing causing the exacerbation of environmental problems including tropical rainforest depletion. Aerial fumigation has furthered the dependence on coca production by destroying legal food crops including well-established crop alternatives organized by the Church and other groups. It has been documented that FARC controlled areas in the south are being fumigated - coincidentally where some of the displaced Colombian population (nearly 2 million total and increasing) is fleeing to - while the northern and central areas of coca production controlled by other paramilitary groups are left intact.
"There are other factors that operate to increase coca production. Colombia was once a major wheat producer. That was undermined in the 1950s by Food for Peace aid, a program that provided taxpayer subsidies to U.S. agribusiness and counterpart funds for U.S. client states, which they commonly used for military spending and counterinsurgency. 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 Colombias leading legal export." (Chomsky)
Monsanto has become exponentially wealthier while the amount of hectares of coca in production increases. Monsanto - developer, manufacturer, and seller of Agent Orange [Viet Nam], Terminator Technology, rBGH, etc. - is reported to be supplying the herbicide Roundup and Roundup Ultra for aerial fumigation with the addition of a substance called Cosmo-Flux 411 F to increase its toxicity. "The Roundup/Cosmo-Flux mixture has never been scientifically evaluated nor has the public, either in the U.S., or in Colombia, been informed of this practice." (Bigwood)
A group of observers including US Senator Paul Wellstone, an outspoken critic of Plan Colombia, were doused by Roundup during a demonstration of the efficacy and precision of the aerial spray program.
Before US tax dollars can be used for the purchase of herbicides for aerial fumigation in Colombia, the US State Department must certify that fumigation complies with Colombian law and that it does not cause health risks for the local population. A recent Witness For Peace report concluded that these conditions are being "systematically violated in the southern part of the country." (WFP Team)
Can the health of the people of Colombia and the environment be 'repaired' and, if so, who will pay for the cost of repair? How many total victims of this disaster are there and how will they be compensated? Has the herbicide manufacturer posted cash bond to demonstrate good faith in the safety claims of their product, and, is the product being used in violation of safety warnings? The answer to the financial cost - not health and environmental costs - is in the text of the new bill and it is clear that Monsanto will not be held financially liable for the damage - the taxpayers of the United States will be.
H.R. 2506 has some new language, but that is no guarantee, just like the previous bill was unable to guarantee compliance. There is no mention of Cosmo-Flux 411 F. And, the new rules refer to new purchases of herbicides, not to the stockpiles of Roundup in Colombia and not to future purchases of the herbicide by money allotted for purchase in previous bills, money which has not yet been released.
The new bill stipulates that funds for fumigation programs will be released only after the Secretary of State consults with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and, if appropriate, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who will be guarantors of compliance.
Would these guarantors of Roundup's safety be the hand-picked Bush team of: Secretary of State Colin 'Kill Kyoto Protocol' Powell, called Kyoto a "dead letter" and requested a stall; EPA Administrator Christie 'Cave-in' Whitman, now recognized for her inability to wield clout against big business and industry, softening Clean Air legislation for them; Secretary of Agriculture Ann 'Biotech' Veneman, served on the Board of Directors of Calgene of "Calgene Flavr Savr Tomato" fame, first company to bring GMOs to the supermarket and to the table, Calgene/Monsanto/Pharmacia have merged into one, while campaigning for Bush she assured California farmers that they would no longer be troubled by "unnecessary and burdensome environmental regulations", during her speech to the annual meeting of the National Cotton Council in Texas, Feb. 11, 2002, she spoke to Texas cotton growers using Monsanto Bt-engineered cotton seed [Bt-engineered seed created Bt-resistant 'superbugs' rendering Bt ineffective for IPM] and said to the Monsanto customers: "So certainly cotton growers are doing their part to improve and enhance the environment." [oops]; CDC director David 'Marcus Foundation' Fleming, "What the feds won't give CDC, Marcus will", the Marcus Foundation donated 3.9 million dollars to the CDC for a bioterrorism center, Marcus is the founder/owner of Home Depot which is the "largest US retailer of endangered rainforest wood", CDC is also supported by big donations from pharmaceutical conglomerates; ?
Do these conflicts of interest inspire confidence in compliance watchdogging prior to the release of cash for purchasing Monsanto's Roundup for all seven nations - Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - named in the Andean Regional Initiative?
Would US tax dollars be of better use in assisting the development of alternatives to coca production which is the non-corporate agrarian reform that numerous groups in Colombia - including some of the self-defense paramilitaries, right-wing / left-wing guerrilla forces, government officials, ordinary people of Colombia - have been calling for? Would efforts be better spent convincing the large cattle ranchers and land barons to agree to a more democratic division of property, without the interference of foreign private corporate monopolies?
6. US aid, including collusion between US Special Forces and paramilitaries, has been implicated in human rights abuses. In 2000, "Human Rights Watch revealed that seven former trainees at the School of the Americas-SOA / Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation-WHISC, in Fort Benning, Georgia, are running paramilitary groups and have commissioned kidnappings, disappearances, murders and massacres. In February of 2001 an SOA / WHISC graduate in Colombia was convicted of complicity in the torture and killing of 30 peasants by paramilitaries. The school is now drawing more of its students from Colombia than from any other country." (Monbiot) "In a December, 2000 interview with El Tiempo, Colombian Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez and Commander of the Armed Forces Gen. Fernando Tapias stated that Congress and the U.S. Government had assured them that the School of the Americas will continue to function and that the Colombian military can still train there." (SOA Watch) Graduates of the SOA are under Tapias' command.
Has the Committee taken this information into consideration, especially in view of General Tapias' testimony before this Committee, as well as reports that Israelis and Germans are participating in the training of paramilitaries along with US military instructors? Has the Committee considered holding hearings inquiring into the activities of all parties "helping groups like the FARC to perpetuate this violence"?
The US Special Forces Green Berets trained a Colombian unit whose commander, Colonel Lino Sanchez, has been accused by the Colombian Attorney General's office of collaborating with Carlos Castaño's self-defense forces in the Mapiripan Massacre of July 20, 1997 in which ACCU soldiers, paramilitaries of the AUC, brutally tortured and exterminated peasants who had taken part in a protest over poor economic conditions. The AUC claims otherwise, that they were guerrillas. However, since reports indicate that the Green Berets began training Sanchez on May 14, 1997 and ended the training course close to the day of the massacre, the large-scale massacre occurred in close proximity to the training base at Barracon Island where the Green Berets were located, and the estimated 200 paramilitaries who engaged in the massacre had to pass a checkpoint at the island by boat, "it is a strong possibility that the Green Berets knew of the planned paramilitary massacre in advance and did nothing." (Weiss)
What are US personnel doing on the ground in Colombia where they may be "at risk"? Since the ineffective 'war on drugs' in Colombia just recently had to be renamed the Latin American 'war on terror', are US personnel protecting the people of Colombia including the peasants, or, are they training Colombian military personnel and paramilitaries in how to commit atrocities, are they protecting oil drilling and oil pipelines, are they providing military escorts for the herbicide fumigation program? Is the United States committed in cash, personnel, and risk to a greater extent than in Viet Nam and has propaganda purposely left American citizens ignorant of the fact? Is this a public defense war or is this another private economic war?
7. Since it has been well-documented with accessible information that US tax dollars are being used to finance, train, and arm paramilitaries colluding with the official brigades of the Colombian military who are using kidnapping, torture, murder and mass murder to eliminate democracy in Colombia by instilling fear - just as all other paramilitary groups are doing to varying degrees - and the targets of such attacks include each other as well as anyone who dissents in their democratic right against the system in place including human rights activists from Colombia such as Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared and also Members of the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights; human rights activists visiting from other countries; trade unionists; social workers; community organizers; clergy including members of the Society of Jesuits; government critics; opposition politicians; civic leaders; women activists; peace activists; and the 84 groups of indigenous people of Colombia, what would you name as the greatest contributing factor to the threat to Colombian democracy?
With the facts that the official Colombian military, the self-defense paramilitary forces, the guerrillas, and the US military are all guilty of act or assistance in the perpetration of atrocities against the people of Colombia, and with the knowledge that private armies will increase as individual interest groups continue to form and need protection, is it clear that financial contributions allotted to Colombia outside of all-party talks - which must be uninfluenced by private political and economic monopolies - exacerbate torture, murder, and mass murder, and would the expenditure of US dollars, personnel, and effort be better used to assist Colombia in devising credible alternatives to 'there is no other alternative course but violence', credible alternatives which all parties - publicly or privately - have expressed interest in, instead of extinguishing proposals that have already been suggested, proposals which could be built on if they are proven to be offered in good faith without strings for monopolizing power and economic interests attached?
8. Your US congressional inquiry has concluded that "Colombia is a potential breeding ground for international terror equaled perhaps only by Afghanistan." There are precedents and parallels to the Colombian situation. Consider what creates "a breeding ground": "The CIA did have a role, a major one in fact, but that was in the 1980s, when it joined Pakistani intelligence and others (Saudi Arabia, Britain, etc.) in recruiting, training, and arming the most extreme Islamic fundamentalists it could find to fight a "Holy War" against the Russian invaders of Afghanistan...The United States, along with its allies, assembled a huge mercenary army, maybe 100,000 or more, and they drew from the most militant sectors they could find, which happened to be radical Islamists . . . from all over, most of them not from Afghanistan. They're called "Afghanis", but like bin Laden, many come from elsewhere..."Blowback" from the radical Islamic forces organized, armed, and trained by the U.S., Egypt, France, Pakistan, and others began almost at once, with the 1981 assassination of President Sadat of Egypt, one of the most enthusiastic of the creators of the forces assembled to fight a Holy War against the Russians. The violence has been continuing since without letup...As soon as the U.S. established a permanent military presence in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden and the rest announced that from their point of view, that was comparable to the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and they turned their guns on the Americans, as had already happened in 1983 when the U.S. had military forces in Lebanon." (Chomsky)
Other CIA-trained favorites-turned-enemy include Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, and Americans are still facing the fallout from CIA brokerage with evil. The gross violations of human rights in other client states such as Indonesia/Kemusu Argamulja alias 'President Suharto'; Turkey/Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit; Haiti/Emmanuel "Toto" Constant; Angola/Jonas Savimbi; Israel/Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, etc., not to mention their associates who knew of impending massacres beforehand and did nothing to stop them, should be included in this consideration.
Are you and other members of Congress worried that due to the "perpetuation of violence" a similar situation will happen in Colombia, where the US has been spending billions of dollars - since the Kennedy administration in the 1960s - to finance, train, and arm known terrorists, and are you concerned that the US mainland might suffer an attack on their national interests from Colombian extremists such as what happened in America on 9/11 as the result of blowback?
9. Referring to Plan Colombia, the late Senator Paul Coverdell said "The necessity of protecting the oil interests in Venezuela justifies the US intervention in Colombia, the US's 'backyard'." (Mondragón) A telling statement came from Stan Goff, former US Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant, on his work in Colombia "We never mentioned the words coca or narco-trafficker in our training. The objective continues to be oil." (CRG)
"Since 1999, Colombia has in this manner rapidly increased the number of contracts for oil exploration and exploitation, particularly with US, Canadian, British and Spanish companies: BP-Amoco, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, Exxon, Canadian Oxy, Talismán, Alberta Energy, Nexen, Repsol, and CEPSA. Between January 2000 and July 2001 they signed 54 contracts. Its impressive to look at the maps of Ecopetrol. The "2000 round" settles the distribution. The only reserves left untouched are the Pacific oil fields - considered by the US to be a special reserve for military contingencies - and the southeastern Amazon. Around Plan Colombia, the most generous list of offers was orchestrated, all in reality favoring the oil transnationals, and given in exchange for support to the Colombian political bosses. The Samper government won decisive support from the oil companies during the crisis of the proceso 8000 - one of the greatest corruption scandals in Colombian history - in exchange for granting them privilege upon privilege. Today the Pastrana government has given them the world. In exchange, the Colombian government receives a meager $900 million from the US, for the war, and is still waiting for funds to arrive from Europe. In October, 1999, in Houston, Texas, Colombian president Andrés Pastrana met with the executives of the principal oil and electricity companies in the United States, coordinated by then governor of Texas, George W Bush. Pastrana promised them major oil and gas exploration concessions and the continuation of the privatizations in the electricity sector, part of which is already property of one of the represented companies, the Reliant Energy. Also present were Enron, the main owner of household gas networks in Colombia, and all the big companies in the oil business. Finally, Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), in which the family of former vice president Al Gore was a stockholder, used its influence in the US Congress to support Plan Colombia." (Mondragón)
The National Security Council report of the Clinton administration, May 1997, section titled Providing for Energy Security, states very clearly: "The United States depends on oil for more than 40 percent of its primary energy needs. Roughly half of our oil needs are met with imports, and a large, though diminishing, share of these imports come from the Persian Gulf area. However, we are also undergoing a fundamental shift in our reliance on imported oil away from the Middle East. Venezuela is now the number one foreign supplier to the United States; Canada, Mexico and Venezuela combined supply more than twice as much oil to the United States as the Arab OPEC countries; and Venezuela and Colombia are each undertaking new oil production ventures. The Caspian Basin, with potential oil reserves of 200 billion barrels, also promises to play an increasingly important role in meeting rising world energy demand in coming decades. While we must keep these developments in mind, we cannot lose sight of the fact that for the long term, the vast majority of the proven oil reserves still reside in the Middle East and that the global oil market is largely interdependent." (National Security Council)
The US Department of State description of Plan Colombia, the Andean Regional Initiative, does not mention "oil", "gas", or "energy". Are members of the Committee concerned about this important omission in the report that was presented to their constituents?
10. Arms manufacturers benefit greatly from funds for Colombia. From the $1.3 billion Clinton-era allotment for 2000-2001, sales were "United Technologies, $234 million for 18 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters; Textron of Texas, $84 million to upgrade Vietnam-era Huey helicopters; and Lockheed Martin, $68 million for early warning radar systems. DynCorp, a Washington, DC area firm that hires U.S. veterans to provide training for foreign military personnel, also stands to benefit from the aid package." (Leech)
Textron and United Technologies are conglomerates with divisions in other aspects of business besides defense: "Textron, Inc. is a global multi-industry company with operations in four business segments - Aircraft, Automotive, Industrial and Finance. The company's products include commercial and military helicopters, light and mid-size business jets, plastic fuel tanks, automotive trim products, golf cars and utility vehicles, turf-care equipment, industrial pumps and gears, engineered fastening systems and solutions, and other industrial products. It also is a commercial finance company for select markets." (Stock Selector) "United Technologies Corporation provides a broad range of high technology products and services to the building systems and aerospace industries. Those products include Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines; Carrier heating, air conditioning and refrigeration; Otis elevator, escalator and people movers; Hamilton Sundstrand aerospace and industrial products; Sikorsky helicopters and International Fuel Cells power systems." (Stock Selector)
new rules, civilian helicopters can be sold to countries such as Pakistan or
Indonesia whose nuclear proliferation or human rights records would otherwise
exclude them from purchasing the same in weapon form. But in a 1996 interview,
Bell Helicopter executive Jeff Cromar proudly explained how his company's negotiations
with Pakistan for the sale of commercial helicopters - with the clear understanding
that they would be converted to military use - was "perfectly legal".
After buying a dual-use item like a civilian helicopter, the purchaser need
only buy an "integration system" - a kit for changing the chopper
from civilian to military use or vice versa. Integration kits are freely available
through companies such as Premiere Aviation of Texas, Belgian Fabrique Nacional,
and the European company GIAT, giving Bell Textron and its brethren a perfectly
legal way to circumvent nit-picking congressional sales restrictions."
(Parrish) "The same is true in Colombia, where Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter
Textron have eagerly awaited a comprehensive bill that would increase funding
for the War on Drugs. The legislation, which passed the House and is now in
a Senate committee, could mean Colombia would get $150 million in helicopters
- six new Black Hawks as well as upgrades for 50 Huey IIs. Those choppers will
be put to work by a government that's in the middle of a bloody war with leftist
guerrillas and endures massacres by right-wing paramilitaries. But with enough
money and influence flowing from the exporter, such concerns seldom make it
to Congress." (Parrish)
Political action committee [PAC] contributions, contributions from individuals, and soft money contributions in the last three election cycles have amounted to millions of dollars from the defense sector alone donated to both the Republican and the Democratic parties, including millions from Textron and United Technologies. (CRP) At least five of the Committee have received contributions by way of PACs and lobbyists from Textron and United Technologies including yourself, Mr. Hyde, with a minimum of 24 of 49 members of the Committee having received campaign funding of some type from major defense contractors, not to mention energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, investment/finance, electronics, etc.
Does this special interest influence the Committee's impartial review?
Who speaks for Colombia? Not who is shouting the loudest. Stop for a moment and listen carefully and you will find that the people of Colombia who are being silenced share these same desires: "no longer a two-party dictatorship...there must be agrarian reform, a reorganization of the petroleum policy and guarantees for minority political parties...freedom of expression and the free practice of participatory democracy; where minority parties have a chance; a country of respect, of national unity, where you can say whatever you think and no one kills you for it; a country where you can work, where the free right to private property is respected and goods are distributed in a more equitable fashion; a country where there is room for all of us, a place where we can get rid of the enormous corruption that exists currently..." (Castaño)
The Andean Regional Initiative is not 'as advertised' and it will not restore harmonious peace to the people of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Those who stand to gain are weapons and aircraft manufacturers, certain divisions of high-tech industry, chemical / pharmaceutical congolomerates, energy, and their investors, continuing the Pentagon's corporate welfare system where scores of billions of dollars from US taxpayers are transferred to private monopolies by way of the massive US military budget on the pretext of security and defense against whoever is 'the bad guy of the year', justifying it with the popular language - the 'war on drugs', the 'war on terror' - for whatever war is 'on' at the time. Either the government officials accepting the flow of 'aid' and the economic future attached to the acceptance of 'aid' are exceedingly ignorant or desperate, or they are willing to sell their fellow countrywomen and countrymen to satisfy the hunger for power and the thirst for blood-red oil.
Socio-economic programs will have to suit investors or they, too, will be targets in the 'war on terror', just as the El Salvadorian Jesuits armed with their social democratic strategies of helping the poor based on the principles of liberation theology were much too threatening to the maintenance of social inequality.
For those who are resting quite comfortably beneath the cloak of circumvention the news media provides, most of the world can see quite clearly through the deceptions, or, they will. Delaying effective strategy can only go on for so long. Someone will have to answer for the perpetuation of this bloody horror in an enormous, complex situation created and continued by factors far beyond the alleged input of three Irish men.
CC/Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio/10th; Senator Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota
1. Remarks of Roberto Pérez
2. Statement of the U'wa People
3. Resources quoted
"It's a Western way of thinking and a politic of the government and the transnational corporations that they impose on us in our own territory, but the development they talk about won't benefit the campesinos, the public sectors. The only ones who will benefit are a few groups that hold economic power. All the resources that have been exploited have benefited them. If the Colombian people had benefited, we wouldn't see the social injustice that we're living in Colombia. The civil war in Colombia arose from that injustice." - Roberto Pérez, U'wa leader
Statement of the U'wa People - April 16, 2002
distributed courtesy of firstname.lastname@example.org
PETROLEUM - Ruiría "Blood of Mother Earth"
I. Petroleum, Militarization
and Human Rights
II. Petroleum and Economic Impacts
III. Petroleum, Environment and Territory
IV. Petroleum and Regional Development
I. PETROLEUM, MILITARIZATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Among the Universal principals that mark U'wa culture is the respect of the basic right to life for humans and all living beings that exist on this Mother Earth.
Contrary to the
theoretic concept that the white man teaches respect for both human and natural
life and how to achieve a balance between them, we know, as U'wa, through our
responsibility in defense of the universe,
that sacred elements cannot be negotiated. PETROLEUM AS A SACRED ELEMENT CANNOT BE SOLD IN THE
MARKET BECAUSE IT IS PRICELESS. To sell this precious liquid is to sell our lives and the lives of future
generations. Do we have the right to make decisions on the lives of our future generations?
By being a precious and sacred liquid, its simple existence implicates wealth. But this is only a material and temporary distraction because what we really find in the petroleum-rich regions is a society castrated of all its rights-- social, political, economic, cultural, environmental-- and the sovereignty of its people. This is why the petroleum-rich regions are the richest regions, and at the same time the poorest regions. This concept is indisputable because the true wealth made off petroleum stays in the hands of the multinational corporations and in the developed countries, while in our regions we only find extreme poverty and violence is the daily bread of life.
In the U'wa case, up until the present day, the Colombian government has not allowed us the legitimate right to make a cultural objection, allowing us to define true "development" for Indigenous Peoples. This is how institutional trickery is carried out--by passage of anti-indigenous laws and the repression by the army. The last example was carried out using the pretext of keeping citizens safe, but what it really does is safeguard the economic capital of the multinational petroleum corporations while limiting Universal Human Rights and violating the international human rights. Today, without this recognition, we are forced to be refugees in our own lands.
The social crisis that is present in our region is the result of the abundance of petroleum where the armed actors are in a continuous battle, where the civilian population- including indigenous people- find themselves in the crossfire, feeling fear and disoriented, everything around them is unexplainable. The only sure thing is that many more indigenous people will die and then will be able to rest peacefully on the breast of our Mother Earth. Others of us are committed to defending our rights until our death, as it is better to die with dignity, defending what is ours, defending all within the universe, and not be silenced and become a silent participant in our own destruction.
The right to live in peace is a fundamental constitutional right, but continues being only a "right" which never materializes into reality.
PETROLEUM: BLACK GOLD OR EXCREMENT OF THE DEVIL?
Another negative effect that petroleum brings us is the infamous PLAN COLOMBIA whose mission is not to fight the drug war, nor to fight the guerrilla groups, but instead to guarantee the stability of the exploitive multinational companies in indigenous lands. In other words, PLAN COLOMBIA IS THE SAME AS THE INVASION BY PETROLEUM COMPANIES OF INDIGENOUS LANDS (GENOCIDE, ETHNOCIDE AND ECOCIDE). We U'wa ask, do the Colombians that support this famous PLAN COLOMBIA really understand the irreparable damage being done to Colombia? We U'wa clearly understand the consequences that accompany this project. This is why our highest authorities consistently reject this PLAN COLOMBIA. They say: EVERY PERSON THAT SUPPORTS OR BENEFITS FROM THIS PROJECT IS AN ENEMY OF HUMAN LIFE AND NATURE, AND IS A MAN OF WAR, OF DEATH AND OF LIES.
II. PETROLEUM AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS
The economic base of the U'wa is agriculture, meaning that the fertility of the earth is the necessary condition to feed our families. Ruiría (petroleum) is a substance that nourishes the earth. Today this substance finds itself in crisis, and our efforts to stabilize our nutritional base ends up being only good intentions because the earth no longer produces. We are in a food crisis, the malnutrition of our People is imminent, and all of this, because of this sacred substance that today contaminates our lives, the water, the soil, the air and the heart of humans, etc.
At the same time, we are surprised to find ourselves without the legal and institutional expertise needed to fulfill our responsibility as U'wa to TAKE CARE OF OUR MOTHER EARTH, OUR LAND, AND OUR SACRED TERRITORY, because it is life itself. To deny this right is to ignore our history, the U'wa world, our health and our education. In other words, to ignore the difference of our culture is like burying us alive by taking away our right to protest this unconsulted and forced annihilation. We can say that the children of the earth are left without mother and without father, not because our gods chose it to be this way, but because it is the wish of the multinational corporations and the Colombian government, because they understand and apply the teachings of economic capital as a starting and ending point for human development without taking the humans into account.
On the other side, if we look at the negative economic effects that are left by the petroleum projects, these also affect our economy for the following reasons: - Increased price of the land, not allowing us the right to have collective or individual ownership to this property - We are only able to see from afar the products of the market, because we cannot afford them. We are simply not beneficiaries of the petroleum industry. We do not serve a purpose in the workforce or social market, and are only granted the right to be silent, to watch and accept all that the foreigner says and offers us.
III. PETROLEUM, ENVIRONMENT AND TERRITORY
In 1995, as ancient U'wa indigenous people, we protested officially in front of the Colombian government, to the multinational petroleum company, OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM OF COLOMBIA, OXY, and to the world. We protested and rejected all petroleum activity in our sacred U'wa territory.
We rejected, and continue to reject, the presence of the petroleum companies (ECOPETROL, OXY, SHELL, TEXACO, REPSOL, AMOCO, etc.) in the lands of our Sikuani (Guahibo) relatives in the Arauca department, and in our lands, that only generate an environmental, social, cultural and land crisis.
We denounce the direct impact that we U'wa have faced. We see the lack of water in our communities. We see that everyday the volume of this precious liquid diminishes and every summer is harder and harder to get. Meanwhile the general increase in climate has affected our crops, the animals we raise and the wild animals as well.
Because of all of the activities that are conceived and carried out in the exploration, extraction, transportation and commercialization of this product, the environment in our region is in crisis today. Contaminated rivers, destroyed vegetation, displaced indigenous communities, annihilation of flora and fauna, polluted air, etc. The State, through its legal and political institutions, everyday continues to invade sacred lands of indigenous people. They do not understand, nor will they understand, that we, as U'wa, are the true caretakers of the environment because it is a part of our lives, and is inherent to our existence. Therefore, to destroy the environment is to self-destruct ourselves.
We inform Colombia and the world that we U'wa- by laws already long in existence- have the absolute right to all soil and subsoil rights, recognized by the Spanish Crown and ratified by article 332 in the Constitution of 1991. Therefore we manifest that we are not willing to cede, and much less are we willing to renounce our territorial rights. On the contrary, we ask the MINISTRY OF ENERGY AND MINES, ECOPETROL AND OXY AND THE OTHER ASSOCIATED CORPORATIONS TO CANCEL THE ASSOCIATED SIRIRI CONTRACT THAT IS FOUND WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF OUR LEGALLY RECOGNIZED U'WA TERRITORY. At the same time, we take this opportunity speaking about petroleum to once again demand ANDRES PASTRANA ARANGO- the head of the Colombian government- order the $18,000,000,000 pesos that are due to complete the saneamiento (effort to purchase the remaining lands held by farmers within U'wa territory) as ordered by the INCORA (Colombia Institute of Agricultural Reform) in 1999.
IV. PETROLEUM AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Because of the explanations above, we U'wa say that petroleum is not an ingredient in regional or national development. On the contrary, it is a factor that has destroyed our culture, has ignored our right to this earth, our right to life, our right to be different. It has negated and continues to negate our right to live in a healthy environment and live in peace.
We make an urgent, international call to all our supporters, asking for their help in defense of the U'wa culture. We will continue to oppose any petroleum project in our territory, because it will hurt, ignore and violate our maximum, fundamental right to life (cultural integrity), our culture, peace, a healthy environment, our territory, and the sovereignty of the People. Colombian brothers and sisters, our Mother Earth is suffering, she will soon die and at that moment we will be left without a mother, without food, without heat, without cold, without the moon and without the sun, only then will they look for an U'wa to seek an explanation, but will they find one?
1. Presidential Address to the Nation, White House press release, October 7, 2001, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011007-8.htmlbush address from docs.
2. Let's All Go to Bogotá: Plan Colombia Has Only Just Begun, by Cynthia Cotts, The Village Voice, March 7-13, 2001, http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0110/cotts.php
3. IRA Colombia links shape new US terrorism policy: FARC ties under the microscope, by Sean O'Driscoll, The Belfast Telegraph, May 4, 2002, http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=291797
4. Senate Trade Bill to Go Well Beyond President's Request for Trading Authority, by Jim Abrams, Associated Press, April 3, 2002, http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/04.05H.Trade.Bill.htm
5. Senate, White House Resolve 'Fast Track' Trade Impasse, by Helen Dewar, The Washington Post, May 10, 2002, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62779-2002May9.html
6. Bush in Colombia: an old war gets a new boost, by Laura Orlando, Zmag, May 9, 2002, http://www.zmag.org/content/Colombia/orlando-bushboost.cfm
7. How to Traffic Drugs From Colombia Using U.S. Apathy, by Richard L Vázquez, las Culturas, July 26, 2000, http://www.lasculturas.com/aa/aa072600a.php
8. The Columbia Plan: April 2000, by Noam Chomsky, 2000, Zmag, http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/chomskyjune2000.htm
9. Toxic Drift: Monsanto and the Drug War in Colombia, by Jeremy Bigwood, http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/toxicdrift.cfm http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=669
10. Witness for Peace Letter on Peace Process, by WFP Team in Colombia, February 22, 2002, www.witnessforpeace.org/ http://www.zmag.org/content/colombia/wfp_peaceover.cfm
11. Backyard terrorism: The US has been training terrorists at a camp in Georgia for years - and it's still at it, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, October 30, 2001, http://www.monbiot.com/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,583253,00.html
12. Still a School of Assassins...Talking Points for Lobbying and Media Work, SOA Watch, http://www.soaw.org/Articles/legislative/newbill.htm
13. Colombia's Paramilitary: Profile of an Entrenched Terror Network, by Adam Weiss. http://www.zmag.org/content/Colombia/weiss_paramilitaries.cfm
14. 9-11, by Noam Chomsky, 2001, Seven Stories Press, New York.
15. Plan Colombia: Throwing Gasoline on a Fire, by Héctor Mondragón, 2000, translated by Jens Nielson and Justin Podur, August 2001, Zmag, http://www.zmag.org/crisescurevts/colombia/gas1.htm
16. US Oil Interests in Colombia, by the Centre for Research on Globalization, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NMC202A.html
17. Plan Colombia: Throwing Gasoline on a Fire, by Héctor Mondragón, 2000, translated by Jens Nielson and Justin Podur, August 2001, Zmag, http://www.zmag.org/crisescurevts/colombia/gas1.htm
18. A National Security Strategy for A New Century, National Security Council document, May 1997, http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/EOP/NSC/Strategy/#III-western
19. U.S. Aid Package Amounts to Corporate Welfare, by Garry M. Leech, September 3, 2000, Colombia Report, http://www.colombiareport.org/colombia28.htm+us+national+interests+colombia&hl=en
20. Stock Selector List of Conglomerates, by StockSelector.com, http://www.stockselector.com/allinind.asp?indnumber=210
22. US Arms Exporters: Textron, by Geov Parrish, Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/arms/textron.html
23. US Arms Exporters: United Technologies, by Geov Parrish, Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/arms/utc.html
24. The Best Defense: The Money, by the Center for Responsive Politics at opensecrets.org, http://www.opensecrets.org/sitesearch/texis.exe/webinator/crpsearch/?db=osdb&query=defense&submit=Go%21
25. "This War Can't Go on Any Longer.": Three part interview with Carlos Castaño, by María Cristina Caballero, originally published in Cambio 16, Dec. 15, Dec. 22, and Dec. 29, 1997, reprinted at ICIJ: Independent Consortium of Investigative Journalists at the Center for Public Integrity, Washington, D. C., http://www.icij.org/investigate/castano.html
26. Dying for oil: U'wa leader Roberto Pérez speaks about indigenous resistance to the Colombian oil rush, by Camille T. Taiara, February 7, 2001, The Bay Guardian, http://www.amazonwatch.org/newsroom/newsreleases01/feb0701uwa_int.html
27. Statement of the U'wa People: PETROLEUM - Ruiría "Blood of Mother Earth", April 16, 2002, distributed courtesy of email@example.com
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