Archive | Colombia

Colombia: Rights Org Denounces Murder of Community Leaders

Farmers dennounce illicit crops forced dismantling in Corinto's path, Cauca, Colombia. June 3, 2020.

According to the Ascobac communication, Montiel’s disappearance and assassination are similar to community leader John Restrepos’ killing on April 29.

Colombia’s many human rights organizations denounced Wednesday the assassination of two social leaders 

RELATED:  Colombia: Senators to Debate Cuban Role in Peace Agreement

Low Cauca Farmers’ Association (Asocbac) said that Juan Gabriel Atenio Montiel was last seen on Tuesday, heading to work at Napoles company. After a detailed search, other farmers found his corpse on Wednesday morning in La Cucana’s proximities. 

According to Ascobac communication, Montiel’s disappearance and assassination are similar to community leader John Restrepos’ demise on April 29. Restrepo has not been found so far and there are no leads on his possible abduction.

“As a social and farming organization in the lower Cauca, we have alerted in different scenarios and communications, the very serious crisis that continues to bleed our municipality. However, we have not found help in the Municipal Mayor’s Office, nor the government of Antioquia, nor the government of Ivan Duque to help us mitigate all the phenomena of violence that we complain about,” Ascobac expressed. 

AscamcatOficial@AscamcatOficia

Los operativos de #ErradicacionForzada y violenta de cultivos de uso ilícito en el #Catatumbo genera una grave violación DDHH y aumentan la grave crisis social y humanitaria de la región y genera el posible contagio de #Covid_19 a los campesinos por parte @Ejercito_Div2143:42 PM – Jun 4, 2020 · Sardinata, ColombiaTwitter Ads info and privacy16 people are talking about this“The forced and violent eradication of illicit crops in Catatumbo is a serious human rights violation and worsens the severe social and humanitarian crisis in the region.”

For its part, the Colombian Institute for Peace and Development Studies (Indepaz) said community leader and human rights defender Julio Humberto Moreno Arce’s was murdered on Wednesday morning. As the organization briefed, locals found the body between the village of La Balsa and the municipality of Santander de Quilichao, Cauca.

Colombia Ombudsman Office recently warned about human rights violations and international infractions on Cauca region, due to the presence of armed groups.

So far, in 2020, over 120 social leaders have been killed in Colombia, most of them in Cauca. Also, several social organizations report collateral victims as social leaders’ relatives and. 

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Colombia: Social Leaders Protest for Access to Health and Food

Forty-eight social leaders protest in the Sierra Nevada sector,Santa Marta district, Colombia. May 20, 2020.

The paralysis of tourism has also affected the employment of the inhabitants of rural communities in Sierra Nevada.

The difficult situation Colombia is facing due to the pandemic prompted the 48 leaders of Sierra Nevada, in the Santa Marta District, to protest to demand decent health services and food aid.

RELATED: Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

In the middle of the road that communicates with the territory of La Guajira, the demonstrators placed a coffin and performed the dance of the African morticians that has been viralized in the social networks in recent months.

With this representation, the social leaders denounced the abandonment by the District and Departmental Government.

Those who becomes ill for the COVID-19 has a high risk of dying, they denounced.

Hernán Tobar@HernanTeleSUR

El personal de salud sigue sus protestas en Colombia, exigen les sean suministrados los elementos de bioseguridad y no se siga pauperizando su labor, muchos están tercerizados. Hasta el momento han muerto 5 y más de 160 están contagiados por la Covid 19.@ConexiontlSUR415:54 PM – Apr 21, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy44 people are talking about this“Health workers continue to protest in Colombia, demanding that they be provided with biosecurity elements and that their work not be further pauperized. So far five have died and more than 160 are infected by COVID-19.”

“We do not have a proper health centre and no ambulances. This was confirmed by a recent accident that left several people dead. The attention to the injured was late,” said Carlos Gomez, leader of Guachaca, the place of the protest.

The inhabitants of this rural area are still waiting for the construction of a Polyclinic, a project that was left in the air.

“We request at least that the available health post have trained medical personnel, as the Polyclinic project advances,” local social leader James Lesmes told the press.

The paralysis of tourism has also affected the employment of the inhabitants of rural communities in Sierra Nevada.

“We have already been paralyzed for two months without being able to generate resources. We have worked together with neighbors and family members, but we already need the help of the state,” said tourism worker Eriberto Mendoza.

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Colombia Delays Venezuelans From Returning to Their Country

A group of Venezuelans are waiting in Barrio Visión Colombia, west of Bogotá, for their opportunity to return to their country. April 26th, 2020.

This blockage increases the risk of the coronavirus infection among stranded citizens.
 

The Colombian authorities have delayed nearly 12,000 Venezuelans from returning to their country, leaving them stranded on their side of the border.

RELATED: Venezuela Announces International Lawsuit Against US

Venezuelans stranded at the Colombian border decided to return home due to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19.

According to teleSUR correspondent in Colombia Hernan Tobar, about 180 people are waiting since Thursday in Barrio Visión Colombia, west of Bogotá, for their opportunity to return to Venezuela. 

Immigration authorities have confirmed that those hundreds of citizens could be allowed to return to their country on Monday. 

Agence France-Presse@AFPespanol

🇻🇪

Cientos de migrantes regresan a Venezuela desde Colombia por la pandemia #AFP http://u.afp.com/3cbH 

View image on Twitter

1464:19 AM – Apr 6, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy153 people are talking about this“Hundreds of migrants are returning to Venezuela from Colombia because of the pandemic.”

According to Colombian immigration authorities, lagging the border crossing is a measure to avoid crowding at exit points.

Until recently, Colombian authorities had led migrants to believe that it was Venezuela that was delaying them from returning. 

But Colombia had to desist from that farce. “This is how the protocol set up with the mayors and governors is established. We must prevent agglomerations at the exit points,” Juan Francisco Espinosa, director of Migration Colombia, said.

“Colombia is willing to help Venezuelans, but in a responsible way,” Espinosa explained in a video released by his office.

Those who wish to return voluntarily will be able to do so, as long as they comply with the established procedure. 

 “And those who don’t comply will have their trip suspended until they do.” Espinosa concluded.

Since March 25, over 12,000 have returned to Venezuela in some 300 buses.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro reported last Friday that more than 20,000 Venezuelans have returned, amid the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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Colombia: Hunger Protests Continue Amid Pandemic

Protests and blockades on 7th Avenue. Usaquen, Bogota, Colombia. April 30th.

With 8.3 million inhabitants, Colombia´s capital is the city with the highest infection rate.

Colombian protests continued due to the food crisis and lack of governmental help during COVID-19 outbreak across the South American country.

RELATED: Colombia: Gunmen Kill Social Leader and Family Members in Cauca

In Ibague, several families demonstrated demanding humanitarian aid from Tolima’s Mayor Office, despite social isolation measures to prevent the virus from spreading. Furthermore, the Las Ferias neighborhood residents blocked a street entrance and burned tires to protest the situation. 

Las Feria’s inhabitants are requesting  support to palliate the severe situation they face due to lack of food and other basic supplies. After social isolation and quarantine enforcement, the less solvent citizens ceased work and as a consequence, lost regular incomes. They also said the government did not fulfill its promises and they await for nutritional kits delivery from the government.

For their part, La Florida residents also blocked the highway and demanded the promised help. “The government has abandoned them and no one’s looking after them. 

Horacio Estrada G@HORACIOESTRADA

Nuevamente bloqueos en #Usaquen No llegan las ayudas humanitarias @Bogota @integracionbta @ClaudiaLopez @Jlopezconcejal @personeriabta @VeeduriaBogota @PoliciaColombia @CMILANOTICIA @Citytv @BogotaET @antetodoco24:30 PM – Apr 30, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Horacio Estrada G’s other Tweets“Another blockade in Usaquen No humanitarian aid arrives “


In El Codito, the mayor affirmed her administration counts with enough resources but nothing has arrived for  the ones in need. As local news media reported, the residents confronted police with stones and sticks. Mobile Riot Squad dispersed the protesters. 

Other communities have pointed out they need government help, food aid, and supplies to comply with quarantine. With 8.3 million inhabitants, Colombia´s capital is the city with the highest infection rate.

Thus far, Colombia registered 6,211 positive cases, 278 deaths, and 1,411 recoveries from the COVID-19 virus.

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Colombia Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

More than five millions in Colombia depend on the informal economy and survive without monthly fixed incomes.

“We look like skinny cows, we no longer have breath to walk. We are dying not from the virus but from hunger,” a protester told Efe.

Dozens of people protested Wednesday in front of the local mayor’s office in Bogota, Colombia, to demand that authorities urgently deliver the promised aid to the most vulnerable, as hunger protests are increasing across the country.

RELATED: 

Colombia: Not Even the Pandemic Halts Killing of Social Leaders

Protesters said the authorities are not living up to the promises they made regarding health and nutrition in the neighborhood, one of the most populous and poorest of the capital.

“The mayor (of Bogota, Claudia Lopez) announced yesterday that she delivered 50 percent of the aid, but when we talk to the people, none of them has received anything nor those who received something were registered,” social leader in the neighborhood, Angel Mendez, told Efe.

The lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic has uncovered the hidden problem of hunger in the South American nation where millions of people are more than ever unable to access food, which has led to lootings and agitations in various parts of the country.

Poor people in Colombia are finding themselves unable to comply with the stay-at-home measure in force since March 25, continuing to look for their daily bread in the streets as they used to do to feed their families before the outbreak.

More than five million depend on the informal economy and survive without monthly fixed incomes. Their unique source of survival has gradually disappeared because of the compulsory quarantine, as most of them cannot work from home.

“We look like skinny cows, we no longer have the breath to walk. We are dying not from the virus but from hunger. We have not seen anything of what they promised us, we are suffering hunger,” Sandra Patricia Hurtado, a resident of Ciudad Bolivar, told Efe.

The situation of Hurtado is the one that thousands of Colombians live daily, asking for help from the windows of their homes where they hung a piece of red cloth in desperation.

For millions across the country, the situation turned into a matter of life and death, forcing them to go door-to-door to ask for food in wealthy neighborhoods.

 As of Wednesday, Colombia has registered 4,356 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 206 deaths.

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US, Colombia, Brazil Hold Alliance to Attack Venezuela

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in Caracas, Venezuela, March 9, 2020.

The Bolivarian Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced that the U.S. and its allies want to depict Venezuela as a regional threat to justify a naval blockade and a military intervention.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced that the United States, Colombia, and Brazil have established an alliance to increase the aggression against the Bolivarian people through a naval blockade.

RELATED:

Venezuela’s Multiparty Committee Tasked to Appoint New Electoral Officials In Session

“The White House is developing a chain of command to attack the Venezuelan people at all levels,” Arreaza said and explained that the imperialist plan could include a naval blockade to his country.

Over the last week, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro met with U.S. President Donald Trump to promote destabilizing acts in Venezuela and increase unilateral coercive measures.

The Bolivarian foreign minister strongly criticized the meetings held by the head of the U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom) Adm. Craig Faller met with Colombian and Brazilian military to discuss matters about Venezuela.

“Why does Venezuela always appear permanently in military meetings? Why should the military think politically about the governments of the region? Obviously it is a large-scale operation,” Arreaza stressed.

Jeb Sprague@JebSprague

The U.S. economic war has already devastated Venezuela & is the main factor blocking any recovery.

The Trump White House is seeking now to tighten the screws even further, cutting off funds for medicines & all sorts of basic infrastructure & goods. https://twitter.com/coweddle/status/1237129259291983873 …Cody Weddle@coweddleUS Charge D’Affairs for Venezuela James Story says the US sanctions campaign against Nicolas Maduro will be escalating this month. Our interview with him shortly on @WPLGLocal1042:26 PM – Mar 10, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Jeb Sprague’s other Tweets

He also recalled that those conservative presidents insist on implementing the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Tiar), which seeks military intervention in the event of an extra-regional attack.

On the other hand, Arreaza blamed opposition politician Juan Guaido for the imposition of unilateral and coercive measures that violate the United Nations Charter.

“While they violate the Charter, we stick to it and to international law. We will go to the U.N. Security Council and give it details of everything they are preparing behind their backs,” he said.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Colombia, VenezuelaComments Off on US, Colombia, Brazil Hold Alliance to Attack Venezuela

Will Policy of Destabilizing Latin American Countries Help Trump to be Re-Elected?

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election campaign heats up, there is every chance that Donald Trump can become a one-term president as the popularity of Bernie Sanders increases despite the sabotage within his own Democrat Party against him. There still remains a strong possibility that Sanders can become the next president sitting in the White House. Sanders continues to grow mass appeal, with former Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon even conceding last month that the Democrat candidate is a “populist,” even if it is different to that of Trump’s. Sanders appeals to the impoverished by directing the frustrations of Middle America to the ultrarich who are fighting tooth and nail to bring the U.S. to Western standards by providing free education and healthcare. This is in contrasts to Trump’s populism which redirects anger of Middle America’s increasing impoverishment to the so-called immigrant “invasion” coming from Latin America.

One of Trump’s main platforms for his seemingly ‘unlikely’ election win, as many so-called experts thought of it back in 2016, was to build a wall traversing the border between the U.S. and Mexico to make it even more difficult for illegal immigrants to enter the North American country. All the slurs and accusations of racism were not able to subdue Trump’s fever as many in Middle America believed they finally found a candidate that spoke their language, addressed their issues and provided a solution to the so-called problem of illegal immigrants “invading” their country. Trump of course knows that illegal immigrants are not the reason for the U.S. problems of de-industrialization, lack of job opportunities, unaffordability and poverty – but it was this rhetoric that projected him into what was an unexpected win for the presidency against Hillary Clinton.

With Sanders speaking of a new populism, not based on a so-called invasion from immigrants, but actually addressing the real issues of the U.S. political and economic system, it is likely that Trump will resort back to the fear of Latin American illegal immigrants to project him to the presidency. This of course may not be necessary in the likely case that the Democrats ignore the popularity of Sanders to go for a Hillary Clinton-like hack and establishment pawn like Joe Biden who will prove unpopular against Trump. None-the-less, Trump will not take chances and will begin using the refugee card, frightening U.S. voters with the threat of new flows coming from Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras, Mexico and other countries.Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant

Meanwhile the world’s focus right now is on the Greek-Turkish border where tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are trying to enter Greece on the orders of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with a high level of international solidarity going to the European country. However, there are stark differences between the migration crisis between the U.S. and Greece. Greece is an impoverished post-colonial country that was under Turkish occupation for over 400 years and does not have the means to support such large numbers.

Nor is Greece the reason for this migrant crisis as it had not invaded Afghanistan, where the majority of illegal migrants come from despite the incorrect reporting that they are Syrian, nor did Greece invade or apply economic sanctions on Pakistan, Iran, North Africa and Syria where the other illegal migrants are from. In the case of Latin America though, the U.S. is the key country in destabilizing the region and therefore has a responsibility to attend to the refugees that itself created. Although many in Middle America are impoverished, this is a result of their own leaderships economic policies, and rather the U.S. is the world’s richest country and has the means and capabilities of dealing with Latin American migrants it creates.

Non-the-less, as the so-called “invasion” of illegal immigrants has drastically decreased, Trump will be wanting to desperately destabilize Latin American countries to create an atmosphere of fear in the U.S. ahead of the presidential election to show voters that he is their only and sole defender whom they must elect in order to secure their future and safety. It worked in 2016 and he will be betting for it to work again later this year. Trump has already mentioned he has some kind of intentions of doing this during an address to the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit only yesterday.

“We’re with Venezuela all the way, and we’re doing a lot, and we have a lot planned,” said Trump, adding that

“the tragedy in Venezuela is a reminder that socialism and communism bring misery and heartache everywhere they’re tried,” prompting a cry of “gracias” from a member of the audience.

Trump has consistently applied devastating sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to force the removal of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and in support of wannabe president Juan Guaidó.

However, these sanctions have had such a devastating effect on the Venezuelan economy that it has prompted many people from the country to seek a better life in the U.S. Trump has not hidden away from the fact that he has “a lot planned” for Venezuela, which only guarantees further misery in the country. Unlike Greece, the U.S. prompts illegal migration by destroying the very countries that these people come from. Not only does this destruction serve U.S. corporate interests in these countries, it will also serve Trump’s re-election campaign as there is a strong likelihood that a new immigration crisis will appear at the borders between Mexico and the U.S.

Posted in USA, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, C.I.A, CUBA, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, PeruComments Off on Will Policy of Destabilizing Latin American Countries Help Trump to be Re-Elected?

US Complains as Cambodia Pivots Toward China

By Joseph Thomas

Global Research,

US State Department-funded front “Radio Free Asia” (RFA) recently complained about plans to proceed with joint Chinese-Cambodian military exercises despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to Khmer Times, this year’s joint exercises will include up to 200 Chinese personnel and over 2,000 personnel from Cambodia. According to the article the exercises will also include “the use of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, mortar and helicopter gun ships.”

Cambodia has dismissed concerns over holding the exercises amid the outbreak noting the relatively small impact the virus’ spread has had on the nation. Additionally, it is unlikely China will not exercise extreme caution when selecting and screening military personnel sent to participate in the exercises later this year.

The citing of the virus is merely the US taking a political shot at both China and Cambodia and by doing so reminding both nations of the importance of establishing significant and enduring alternatives to the current but waning US-led “international order.”

US Complains About Growing Chinese-Cambodian Ties 

In an RFA article titled, “Joint Cambodia-China ‘Golden Dragon’ Military Drills to Proceed, Despite Threat of Coronavirus,” the US front complained:

Cambodia and China have no plans to cancel their fourth annual joint “Golden Dragon” military exercise later this month, despite the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Cambodia’s Minister of Defense Tea Banh said Monday.

The article also openly complained about declining Western-Cambodian ties and how they reflected China’s growing influence in the region. RFA would claim:US Meddling in Cambodian Elections is Foiled

This year’s exercises mark an expansion over those in 2019, when 250 Chinese and 2,500 Cambodian military personnel took part in drills over 15 days at the Chum Kiri Military Shooting Range Training Field in Chum Kiri district.

They were the third and largest joint Cambodia-China military drills to be held on Cambodian soil since Cambodia’s Defense Ministry abruptly suspended annual “Angkor Sentinel” joint exercises with the U.S. military and abandoned counter-terrorism training exercises with the Australian military in 2017.

Joint exercises with Western nations were never reestablished after 2017, a sign of Washington’s terminal decline in the region.

Washington’s More of the Same Didn’t and Won’t Work 

Rather than addressing Cambodia’s concerns over overreaching Western influence, meddling and subversion within Cambodia’s internal political affairs, the West (and the US in particular) has instead doubled down on meddling.

This too was mentioned in the RFA article, which claimed:

Meanwhile, Western influence in Cambodia is on the decline amid criticism of Hun Sen and the CPP over restrictions on democracy in the lead up to and aftermath of the ballot.

The U.S. has since announced visa bans on individuals seen as limiting democracy in the country, as part of a series of measures aimed at pressuring Cambodia to reverse course, and the European Union in mid-February announced plans to suspend tariff-free access to its market under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme for around one-fifth of Cambodia’s exports, citing rollbacks on human rights. 

In reality, there has been no “rollback on human rights” in Cambodia, but merely a crackdown on openly Western-backed and funded sedition in the form of political opposition parties, many of which are literally run out of Washington D.C. and led by political figures hiding abroad from criminal charges and jail sentences.

It is a pattern repeated all across Southeast Asia and beyond, where the US and its European partners use a combination of economic and political coercion to manipulate and control developing nations, but a pattern that has worn thin among the nations targeted.

Targeted nations have increasingly taken advantage of emerging multipolarism and the ability to build alternative ties with nations like China and Russia who not only provide an alternative to Western ties and access to markets, but are increasingly providing better opportunities than the West can, even under the most ideal conditions.

While the West’s brand of meddling will continue to have an impact on Cambodia, Cambodia and other nations in the region are increasingly establishing permanent alternatives in a process that will ultimately and likewise permanently render Western tactics impotent and the shareholders wielding them increasingly isolated.

Growing political, economic and military ties between China and Cambodia are permanently replacing US primacy over the region. Unless the US finds a more constructive and honest way of engaging with the region, this process will continue, and amid this process, contributing to a much wider, global decline of US power and influence.

Posted in USA, China, ColombiaComments Off on US Complains as Cambodia Pivots Toward China

From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Global Research New

Video: Syrian Armed Forces Teach ‘2nd Strongest NATO Army’ Painful Lesson in Idlib

By South Front,

Units of the Russian Military Police entered the town of Saraqib in eastern Idlib following the second liberation of the town from al-Qaeda terrorists and Turkish forces. According to the Russian military, the deployment took place at 5:00pm local time on March 2 and was intended to provide security and allow traffic through the M4 and M5 highways. In fact, the Russians came to put an end to Turkish attempts to capture the town and cut off the M5 highway in this area.

From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Elson Concepción Pérez,

The latest threat to Venezuela of a possible military intervention, the recent coup in Bolivia under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), the tightening of the blockade of Cuba, destabilization in Nicaragua, and open interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, where democratic governments have set the standards for development and sovereignty, do not come as a surprise.

The US-Taliban ‘Peace Deal’? Imperial State Criminality and Terrorism, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and “Restorative Justice”

By Junaid S. Ahmad,

The US/NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan offers a glaring case of what US Senator Fulbright (yes, the one who started the Fulbright program of scholarships and exchanges) called the ‘arrogance of power’ (of his country), his book being of the same title. The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world, with a war machine on steroids, invading and occupying for nearly two decades one of the poorest countries on the planet – and one which had already undergone two decades of uninterrupted internecine war in the prior two decades.

Keep It Simple and Question: Propaganda, Technology, and Coronavirus COVID-19

By Edward Curtin,

Two of the major problems the world faces – world destruction with nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the earth’s ecology and atmosphere – are the result of the marriage of science and technique that has given birth to the technological “babies” (Little Boy and Fat Man) that were used by the U.S. to massacre hundreds of thousands of Japanese and now threaten to incinerate everyone, and the chemical and toxic inventions that have despoiled the earth, air, and water and continue to kill people worldwide through America’s endless war-making and industrial applications.

Turkey in Syria: Down a Blind Alley in an Unwinnable War?

By Tony Cartalucci,

Turkey had been making some promising steps in the right direction since Washington’s disastrous proxy regime-change war in Syria began unraveling – yet it still maintains a problematic position inside Syrian territory, backing what are unequivocally terrorists and obstructing Syria’s sovereign right to recover and restore order within its own borders.

The latest and most dangerous manifestation of this untenable policy is the increasingly frequent and fierce clashes between Turkish forces occupying Syrian territory and Syrian forces themselves moving deeper into the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.

Neoliberal Globalization Is Pushing Humanity “Towards the Edge”

By Shane Quinn,

There have been a number of harmful consequences as a result of the neoliberal era, which emerged in the late 1970s, taking off during the tenures of Ronald Reagan (US president, 1981-1989) and Margaret Thatcher (British prime minister, 1979-1990). There has been an explosion of private power, splintering of societies, destabilization of the financial system, and so on.

Neoliberal globalization has been an important factor too in political parties shifting further to the right, and succumbing to the power of increasingly dominant multinational corporations. This is most notable in America where the Republican Party (or organization) has moved so far off the spectrum that traditional republicans from previous decades would hardly recognize it today.

Why Are Stocks Crashing?

By Mike Whitney,

Uncertainty. It’s impossible for investors to gauge the economic impact of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus or its effect on stock prices. Investors buy stocks with the expectation that their investment will grow over time. In periods of crisis, when the environment becomes unfamiliar and opaque, expectations are crushed under the weigh of uncertainty. When expectations dampen, investors sell.

Posted in USA, Brazil, CUBA, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Peru, Puerto Rico, South America, VenezuelaComments Off on From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

Neo-Liberal Colombia – Where Life Has to Defeat Death

By Andre Vltchek

Global Research,

In one of the poorest neighborhoods of Bogota, Belen, I saw two people bleeding in the middle of the road. One person was clearly dead. A group of onlookers was moving frantically, shouting loudly. There was an attempt to resurrect an injured man. I asked the driver to inquire whether our help was needed, but he was told something insulting by the locals, and insisted that we leave the scene immediately.

Was it a traffic accident? Or a murder? The driver did not know. He actually did not want to know.

“Look,” he said. “You may be a Russian or Chinese Communist, or whatever, but here, in the middle of this slum, you kind of look like a gringo, and that is a damn big disadvantage to both of us, and to my car. So, if you don’t intend to bury your bones here, we should not stop in the middle of this neighborhood, for too long.”

“I thought they love Gringos in Colombia,” I uttered, sarcastically.

“Down there, yes,” my driver waved his hand towards the financial center of Bogota. “But not here. Not up here.”

Before becoming a driver, this individual used to be a top manager, at one of the biggest South Korean electronics companies operating in Colombia. I have always been having good luck with my drivers. During the Dirty War in Peru I once was driven, for weeks, by a retired and thoroughly broke army general, and in Bulgaria, after the East European collapse, by a former ambassador to the United Nations.

Neo-liberal Colombia has some of the greatest and most bizarre disparities I have witnessed anywhere on Earth.

After filming and photographing in the middle of various tough slums that have mushroomed along the hills ‘above’ the capital, I returned to my hotel.

The underclass continues to grow at a rapid rate (Photo: Andre Vltchek 2019©)

Just a few kilometers away from the misery-stricken dwellings, in a coffee shop of my hotel, a group of upper-class Colombians from Cali was having a casual dinner. The people were loud and I could not avoid overhearing their conversation. They spoke about their dogs having diarrhea, regularly, and how it could actually be stopped or prevented.

“It is outrageous,” one of them lamented. “Poor animal has been shitting and shitting. What is it telling us about the quality of Colombian food and water?”

*

Obviously, someone had enough of such contrasts. Or more precisely, few millions of Colombian people decided that the situation is, should we say, “indigestible”.

And, so, on November 21, 2019, Colombia exploded.

Like Chile did, a few weeks earlier.

The explosion has been spontaneous, angry, and for the extreme right-wing government of President Iván Duque Márquez, very embarrassing. Some would say even, scary. His approval rating hit the bottom, 26%. Not as bad as in Chile, where the admirer of Pinochet’s dictatorship, President Pinera, ended up with just a pathetic 10% support from his citizens. Not as bad, but bad enough.

Imagine that you are presiding over a fundamentalist neo-liberal country with hardly any public education or healthcare, with monstrous disparities, with some 9 U.S. military bases (it really depends how you count them; could be bit less or more), and with a foreign policy which has been shamelessly dictated from the North. Imagine that you still have those semi-active left-wing guerilla movements on your territory, but at the same time your government is simply super-hostile towards anything socialist, Communist, red or pink or even slightly progressive. And that many people in your own country actually strongly dislike the direction in which you are moving the nation.

Imagine that you have all sorts of problems at home, and that the left-wing guerilla movements are not the only issues you have to face here: you also have fascist militias which are murdering and disappearing people, you have those narco-mafias which sometimes have better social programs for the poor than your government does, and you also have the anti-imperialist Venezuela fighting for its survival immediately next door; a country which the United States has been trying to destabilize, ruin and turn into a regressive, oppressive Gulf state.

You have hundreds of thousands of the Venezuelan ‘refugees’ on your territory. Some say millions. People who have been escaping from the monstrous U.S. sanctions and from the outright U.K. and German theft of the Venezuelan gold, and monetary assets. It is scary, isn’t it? You have no idea who these people are. Are they really against the Venezuelan President, Maduro? For decades, millions of your people, Colombians, were crossing the border, escaping misery, seeking a better life in Caracas and Maracaibo. You know why it is now the other way round: because Venezuela has been raped, plundered by your masters in the United States and Europe. And it was done with your help, Mr. Duque. Now nobody knows, what is coming next.

Your people are waking up, rising and starting to demand your resignation, or even the demise of the entire Colombian regime.

What do you do; how do you react?

First you pretend that you are listening. Even that you have some sympathy with your own people. But when you see that the protesters think that all that you offer (actually, not that much) is not enough, you deploy the special forces; you do it the Chilean way; you start using brutal police and military contingents, as well as under-cover para-military units. That is what your masters in the North tell you to do, and you are a good obedient servant of the U.S. government and those several “international organizations” controlled by Washington, including the Organization of American States” (OAS), World Bank, IMF, to name just a few.

Dilan Cruz: Not forgotten (Photo: Andre Vltchek 2019©)

You get a clear and loud message from Mike Pompeo in Washington. You can go ‘all the way’. You can kill, without being criticized. You can torture. This is all in the frame of the Monroe Doctrine, or, as some say, of the Second Operation Condor. As long as the killing and torture are done by the “right” people, against the “wrong” ones, they can never be criticized.

You begin frightening people. People begin getting injured, or even dying.

You killed a boy. A young kid. His name was Dilan Cruz. His entire life was ahead of him. He was only 18 years old. Your forces shot him in the head with a bean bag round.

I went there, where it happened. People waved torn Colombian flags; where Dilan was murdered.

That’s where Colombia is at this moment.

National strikes are shaking the capital and other major cities. Smoke and teargas are filling the air above several major streets. The atmosphere is tense. Nihilist, frightening graffiti is everywhere. The glass at your idiotic, overpriced ‘public’ transportation system (just glorified buses, nothing else) is shattered.

It may be just a beginning. Most likely it is.

Your regime is waiting. Will the demonstrators get tired and return home? If they retreat, fine. If not, it is likely that the state is ready to protect the status quo by crushing them; by killing many, injuring thousands, like in Chile.

In neo-liberal Latin America, which is governed by the U.S. and its “Monroe Doctrine”, human lives are worth nothing. What people demand is listened to, then analyzed, and in the end, used against them.

*

In Bogota, in front of the building of the Attorney General of the Nation (Procuraduria General de la Nacion), hundreds of protesters, mainly indigenous, were blocking a square, despite a heavy police presence in the area.

One of the protest leaders, Mr. Felix Rueda, spoke to me, in front of the camera, while the notorious Colombian police force, “Esmad” (the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron), was slowly closing in on us, controlling all the nearby streets:

“We are victims of the armed conflict. We are people who were hit hard by violence; something we thought would never happen again in this country. I represent the victims. And I fight for human rights. All these people around here are victims of the armed conflict.”US Military Intervention against the FARC Insurgency and Plan Colombia: Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict

A lady behind him begins to shout:

“Here, almost all of us are victims. We are peasants, with no protection, whatsoever.”

Mr. Rueda continues:

“These people are victims of the state violence; perpetrated by the armed groups.”

I asked him why there are no mass media outlets covering their plight.

“Sometimes they come. But mostly just when we break down some doors, or when someone dies. One person has already died during the last weeks. Many were injured. Again, Colombians are now fighting against Colombians.”

Another woman from the crowd screams at me:

“There are also rapes; girls are being raped, even boys…”

Police, military and the para-military response to the protests in Colombia has been so outrageously tough, so violent, that even some mass media outlets in the West had no choice but to notice and to report the gravest excesses. The Guardianwrote on 11 December, 2019:

“For the past three weeks, Colombia has been racked by demonstrations triggered by widespread discontent with the proposed economic reforms of the rightwing president, Iván Duque, whose approval rating has dropped to just 26% since he took office in August last year.

Protesters are also angry at the lack of support for the historic 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which formally ended five decades of civil war that killed 260,000 and forced more than 7 million to flee their homes.

In a country which not long ago suffered the highest kidnapping rate in the world – and whose security forces have themselves been implicated in forced disappearances – the videos of police snatching protesters evoked disturbing memories.

According to the national victims’ agency more than 150,000 people were forcibly disappeared between 1986 and 2017, with up to 80,000 still missing. Combatants on all sides of the conflict engaged in the practice.”

Since the beginning of the protests, Colombian forces have been disappearing people from the streets; something that is bringing traumatic memories to the citizens. In one case, a young woman protestor, was grabbed and pulled into an unmarked vehicle. Two people jumped into their car and chased the vehicle, persistently, until the victim was released. This was a well-documented case: “a young woman dragged into an unmarked Chevrolet”. But I was told that there were many other cases, that went unreported and almost unnoticed.

*

I flew to Barranquilla, a city on the majestic River Magdalena. This is where this great Colombian waterway joins the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

LOSING HOPE: Public mood manifests itself on the walls and buildings of Bogota (Photo: Andre Vltchek 2019©)

This is where one of the greatest novels of the 20thCentury, “Love in the Time of Cholera”, written by the Colombian Communist writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, took place. This is where Florentino Ariza waits for the love of his life, Fermina Daza, for fifty-one years, nine months and four days. This is where he makes love to her, finally, on a river boat, at old age. Looking at the surface of this majestic river, Garcia Marquez, finishes his novel. I always thought that the book was fully connected to Cartagena, but I was explained to, that no; it was linked inseparably to the Magdalena River.

And this is where my friend, one of the most important Colombian journalists, Constanza Vieira, lives.

She picked me up at the airport, together with her partner, drove me to the long, new riverside, where we sat down and spoke for hours about Colombia; her beloved and tortured land.

Her father had met Mao, on two occasions. She knew all about the negotiations between the government and FARC. She is a walking encyclopedia, when it comes to Colombia. But this is not what I wanted to know, this time.

Latin America was in turmoil. The Bolivian government was overthrown in a brutal, fascist coup. Chile and Colombia were rising. Venezuela was fighting for its survival. Where was this country going?

Constanza spoke about corruption under Duque, about Uribe’s crimes, and about the grave violations of human rights in her country:

“Colombia in a setting of South America, is a conservative country; very conservative. It is suffering from one right-wing government after another. Here, the inequality is tremendous, one of the greatest in Latin America. When the protests had erupted here, the governments negotiated with the protesters, but never delivered on what they agreed. Colombia is a neo-liberal country. Now it is being shaken by huge protests. In this context, we have to thank Chile. Because whenever in the past Colombians were demanding true changes, our government would tell us: ‘look at Chile! Chileans and all of us have to be thankful to General Pinochet. The country is so prosperous. Capitalism works! So, the uprising in Chile, where people are rejecting neo-liberalism, is having a tremendous impact on Colombia.”

The situation in Colombia is truly grotesque, and the cynicism endless. Constanza mentions just one example, which would be hard to even imagine in most of the other countries on the continent:

“In this country, corruption is just enormous. And so are violations of human rights. Now imagine: the government of Duque decided to pay compensation to the victims of human rights violations, as well as victims of corruption – from the budget allocated to public universities!”

I asked her about the U.S. military bases.

“You see, it is not as simple as it used to be. United States is not staffing the bases with its own soldiers, permanently. The soldiers who come here are usually under-cover. It is often an intelligence unit or two, or these are soldiers who come and go, using local military bases only when they need them.”

As we are parting at the airport, late at night, her partner, a writer, goes back to the “basics” – to Simon Bolivar:

“If you talk to people all over Latin America, the great majority will say that they admire Simon Bolivar. Our great Liberator! But if you listen and look closer, you soon realize that the Bolivarian ideals are being betrayed, almost everywhere, all around us.”

*

Colombia is boiling. There is not just one problem that the country is facing; there are dozens, perhaps hundreds.

While indigenous people have been marching on Bogota, protesting and struggling for their rights and culture to be respected, the coca leaf cultivating farmers (most of them indigenous families) are demanding that their crop finally gets legalized.

All this, while the Colombia peace court is exhuming some 50 bodies in extra-judicial killings cases, presumably committed by the military.

Protesters, mostly indigenous, gathering outside government building in the city (Photo: Andre Vltchek 2019©)

As recently reported by Reuters:

“False positive killings numbered at least 2,248 between 1998 and 2014. The majority of the murders took place during the term of former President Alvaro Uribe, according to the attorney general’s office.”

People were defined as dying in combat, but in reality, they were victims of extra-judicial killings.

Extreme poverty, extra-judicial killings, corruption, unemployment, an embarrassing foreign policy, police brutality, extremely high crime rate – everything is inter-connected. Everything seems to be explosive.

*

One night, all around rebellious Bogota. Graffiti everywhere. Police on high alert. Clusters of people, assembling, then disappearing into the night.

Behind the airport, in the center of a town called Fontibon, there is a meeting of the committee which is organizing one of the strikes. I am being taken there by David Curtidor, a prominent Colombian activist.

He introduced me to Ms. Luz Janneth Zabaleta, a professor of mathematics, who is deeply involved in the organization of the protests. She explained to me:

“Until now, all those government’s so-called reforms were made against the workers, indigenous people and students. This uprising will change everything.”

Her comrade, Arturo Partilla Lizarazo, a labor lawyer passionately supported her words:

“Now Colombia is entering a huge struggle; it is fighting for the dignity of human beings, inhabiting this country. Neo-liberal policies have failed, here and elsewhere. And Colombia is ready to defeat those neo-liberal policies, which have already destroyed so many lives of our people.”

We talk about the former government of President Uribe, which according to both, was basically following a policy of war. We also discuss the awful plight of the common Colombian people, of millions of starving children, the horrendous unemployment rate among young people, and the unimaginable hardship endured by elderly, retired people.

Later, at Parkway, which is a narrow park in the center of the city, I witnessed protesters waving Colombian and Chilean flags. There is live music. Young people are dancing. Units of the riot police are moving along the edges of the park. Are they going to attack? If yes, when? Nobody knows.

I drive through the now empty Bolivar Square, then near the Presidential Palace, barricaded, blocked by the military. Several government buildings are covered by black, protective curtains. Somehow, they look like a funeral halls.

Right next to the government district, there is a red light district’; full of sex workers, pimps and police units. In Colombia, power and misery shamelessly coexist next to each other.

*

On my last day, before departing Bogota for La Paz, Bolivia, I was visited by a legendary educator, German Vladimir Zabala Archila, a liberation theologist who used to work with, among others, with Ivan Illich.

Still very active all-over Latin America, helping to set up revolutionary educational systems in various, particularly indigenous-majority countries, Vladimir is promoting the so-called “Pedagogy of Otherness” (Pedagogia de La Otredad).

Vladimir is an eternal optimist. He believes that Colombia, as well as the entire Latin America, are undergoing tremendous, irreversible transformations:

“We are in the middle of great cultural changes. I can see it even in my own middle-class part of the city. My neighbors, whom I thought were very conservative ladies, are these days banging their pans in the middle of the street, in what is clearly a protest against the system and the government. We call it here “I am scared, but I am marching!””

“One of our previous presidents used to say: ‘All we have to do is to become part of the
United States.’ Colombian paramilitary groups infiltrated Venezuela, on behalf of the West. But look now. There is growing solidarity among black and indigenous people in such places like Cali. And even Evo [Morales] was here, marching with us. He is beloved by the people of Colombia.”

“And now?” I asked Vladimir. “Evo… How does it all look from here?”

He does not hesitate:

“We didn’t expect this coup. We were quite certain that Evo’s popularity in Bolivia would protect him. We were confident in Cuban intelligence. We did not think that Santa Cruz would succeed, with its horrible Nazis like Camacho, who are connected with narco-traffickers, and backed by the West…”

But Vladimir is still optimistic, and so am I.

Latin America is waking up. United, as they say here, people can never be defeated. And slowly, reluctantly, Latin American nations are finally trying to unite.

*

Things will not change overnight in Colombia, but they willeventually change.

As I drive through Bogota, I see anti-government graffiti, I see damaged buildings, the remains of the battles fought between protesters and the security forces. But I also see some strange attempts to infiltrate the rebellion, like the clenched fists that look just too familiar; like Otpor, a symbol of the Western-backed “Color Revolutions”.

It is too early to draw conclusions, but Colombian rebels have to be vigilant. While people are fighting for a new South America, while they are getting injured, while some are even dying, the West is plotting, together with President Duque and his regime; they are analyzing and trying to figure out how to keep things as they have been, for those long stagnant decades. If the government can get away with it, it would give absolutely nothing – zero.

This will be a long and difficult struggle.

Colombia is one of the most damaged places in Latin America; one of the most turbo-capitalist, and one of the most sold out to the West.

On the other hand, its opposition is vibrant and diverse. Its people are amazing; many very brave, educated and determined people.

*

My last day in Bogota, as I was falling asleep, I heard some loud gunshots right in front of my hotel.

After years in Beirut, I was used to such sounds. ‘Celebratory shooting into the air’, I thought, half asleep. But people were screaming, too. Exhausted, I fell asleep.

The next morning, on the way to the airport, I was told by my driver: “At night, they killed a French man, right in front of the entrance to your hotel.”

‘Too many corpses’, I thought. ‘Too many people are dying in Colombia. For whatever reasons, but dying unnatural deaths.’

At the airport, passport control check took almost two hours. Immigration officers were showing absolute and open spite towards the passengers. They were chatting with each other, banging into their mobile phones, even eating. While people waited in endless lines, like cattle. Absolute impunity.

On the Avianca flight from Bogota to La Paz, my neighbor was a typical US lady-apparatchik.

“Where are you from?” she asked me in an arrogant tone of voice, right before take off.

“Russia,” I said.

What?”

“Russia.”

“What’s that?”

“Russian Federation”.

“Oh, Ru-siah!” She gave me a bizarre, pre-programmed, aggressive look.

I was leaving an old US colony for a new one, recently ‘acquired’ one.

The woman who was sitting next to me on the plane, was radiating the unmistakable chill of death. My body began shaking, slightly. But then I recalled the last words of Garcia Marquez’s brilliant novel, written on the shores of the Rio Magdalena:

“The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.”

My body relaxed. And I was suddenly certain that it will be life, as well as the great passion for it, that will finally liberate Colombia from the appalling embrace of death.

*

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