Escalating Counter-Insurgency War in Colombia

November 23, 2011

On November 6, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the Colombian armed forces killed Alfonso Cano – the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – during an operation begun on November 4 on territory controlled by the FARC.

The Colombian president explained that the killing was made possible by long-term planning involving sophisticated intelligence gathered "from a number of sources" including from spies inside the camp of the guerrillas. President Santos warned of further escalation: "I want to send a message to each and every member of that organization: Demobilize or otherwise you will end up in a prison or in a tomb. We will achieve peace."

For a number of years, the U.S. government has been continually increasing its military operations in Colombia. The Obama administration has several hundred U.S. military "advisers" stationed in Colombia directing the counter-insurgency war. U.S. forces are involved in combat as well as intelligence operations on behalf of the Colombian army. In addition there are several thousand U.S. mercenaries stationed in Colombia – including "former" CIA and army operatives. The U.S. supplies the Colombian military with training as well as equipment and spare parts. On November 16, U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta reaffirmed that U.S. military aid under "Plan Colombia" is continuing. Over $7 billion in military aid has gone to Colombia since "Plan Colombia" began in 2000.

The Obama administration officially condemns FARC as a "terrorist organization," and has repeatedly declared its support for the Colombian military's goal to "re-take" the territory controlled by the FARC. And the U.S.-organized counter-insurgency war is directed not only against FARC and other armed liberation organizations but against the whole Colombian people. The Colombian army and paramilitary squads regularly assassinate trade union leaders, peace activists and oppositional political figures, trying to suppress any and every manifestation of the popular struggle. The government's brutal war has displaced millions of Colombians and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of noncombatants.

The counter-insurgency war which the U.S. is waging in Colombia aims not only at maintaining U.S. economic and political domination of Colombia but also at militarizing the entire region. As the peoples in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and throughout Latin America increasingly come out against U.S. imperialist exploitation and domination, the U.S. is preparing to wage more counter-revolutionary wars.

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Erratum:

The editorial board of the AINS removed the following sentence from paragraph three: "On October 30, 2009 the Obama administration signed a military pact with Colombia authorizing the U.S. to operate out of 7 Colombia military bases."

Further information:

Due to widespread opposition in Colombia the military pact has not gone into effect and was ruled unconstitutional by Colombia's Constitutional Court in August, 2010.

Despite the opposition and ruling, U.S. and Colombian government officials both stated that the "bilateral military relationship" between the two countries would continue without interruption. According to State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet, "our close cooperation with Colombia will continue under previously existing agreements."

In September of this year the Obama administration provided another $20 million in military aid to Colombia.