Amigos de el Movimiento por La Paz en Colombia. El asado de el Sábado fue un éxito! Logramos el objetivo de recoger los fondos que necesitábamos para financiar la visita
El sábado 20 de julio, los Colombianos de Nueva York se reunieron a “Jartar Cerveza” en solidaridad con los campesinos del Catatumbo colombiano.
Amigos de el Movimiento por La Paz en Colombia.
El asado de el Sábado fue un éxito! Logramos el objetivo de recoger los fondos que necesitábamos para financiar la visita de la delegación de las comunidades de campesinos y pescadores afectados por las construcción de la hidroeléctrica de el Quimbo en el Huila. Queremos dar nuestros sinceros agradecimientos por su apoyo y solidaridad. A los que colaboraron, asistieron y a los que nos desearon buena suerte.
Fue muy bueno ver a la comunidad colombiana reunida en solidaridad con los compatriotas que en Colombia enfrentan dificultades y abusos.
Los esperamos a todos en las actividades que tendremos con la delegación de las comunidades de el Quimbo en los próximos dias.
También pueden ver las fotos de el asado abajo o en la página de el Movimiento por La Paz en Colombia en Facebook.
Entre todos será más fácil construir una Colombia en Paz.
Movimiento por la Paz en Colombia
Dear friends of the Movement for Peace in Colombia.
El 26 de Abril del 2013, el Movimiento por la Paz en Colombia apoyo la tradición de Witness for Peace y bajo la dirección de el pastor de la Iglesia de Todos los Santos celebraron los Días de Acción y Oración por la Paz de Colombia.
Days of Prayer and Action 2013See photos »
El 9 de Abril, el MPC y CIPAZ Colombia-NY convocaron a la comunidad de Nueva York para que saliera a celebrar de paz.
Los Artistas Jorge Posada y Jairo Barragan ofrecieron piezas de artes para regalar a los asistentes.
Los musicos de la Cumbiamba NY tocaron para la multitud. Gracias a Terraza 7 por ayudar a hacer esto posible.
Carnaval por la Paz en Nueva YorkSee photos »
El primero de junio en Nueva York se celebró la mesa Regional de Paz para los Estados Unidos.
Participaron delegados de Colombia Vive (Boston), Colombian Human Rights Committee (DC) y el Movimiento por la Paz en Colombia (NY) y otros miembros de la comunidad colombiana en la costa oriental de los Estados Unidos.
Desde Colombia, los cuatro congresistas de la Comisión de Paz de la Cámara participaron via Skype.Dieron su visión esperanzada en el proceso de paz y escucharon testimonios de los participantes en el auditorio.
Especial agradecimiento a Carlos Aguasaco del Center for Workers Education que sirvió de anfitrión a la ceremonia. Y a Carolina Chaves del Colombian Studies Group del Graduate Center en CUNY quién moderó la participación de los asistentes.
Las memorias del evento se encuentran aqui: http://www.mesadepazny.org/
Review by Gabriel Chaves for the International Socialist Review
THE WAR on drugs is a key feature of US foreign policy. If we were to judge this war by its official goal we must recognize it has failed: the drug trade now spans the whole globe. The war has squandered treasure and ruined the lives of millions of people. Governments continue to pursue this war because the stated objectives differ from its real purpose. Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror provides a perspective that unveils the true nature of the war on drugs.
The authors focus on Colombia as the epicenter of the “Crystal Triangle”: the Andean countries that supply the international cocaine trade. The evolution of the government’s simultaneous campaigns against narcotrafficking and the existing insurgency groups is discussed in intimate detail. The book offers a unique vantage point on its subject, providing a clear picture of the role of the CIA in the international drug trade.
Genesis of Colombian drug trade
The Colombian narcoeconomy originated from two confluent dynamics: the internal conflict for land, and the geographical shift of US anti-communist operations.
Inside Colombia, the Comprador class (the business elite), had successfully resisted the struggle for land redistribution. The FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) grew out of peasant groups involved in this struggle.
Internationally, the CIA role in drug trafficking operations dates back to the Cold War, when it began making alliances with gangsters, warlords, and heroin traffickers to fight communism in Europe, China, and Indochina. Since then, the focus of CIA operations has coincided with surges in drug production. The drug trade in Colombia, for example, helped the CIA finance its operations in Central America.
The CIA helped establish the Medellin Cartel by supporting the paramilitary organization Muerte a Secuestradores–MAS (Death to Kidnappers). It included members of Colombian security forces, landowners, and narcotraffickers. The CIA connected MAS with mercenaries that provided training in anti-insurgency tactics. The CIA also helped organize production and marketing networks vital to the cocaine trade.
The growth of cocaine production coincided with the ascendancy of sectors committed to international trade. Villar and Cottle identify these forces as the Narco-bourgeoisie: the beneficiaries of the drug economy.
The cocaine decade
The cocaine decade marked the rise to power of the narco-bourgeoisie. Among the individuals that formed part of its ranks, the authors detail the ascendance of Carlos Castaño and of Alvaro Uribe Velez.
As drug traffickers increased the size of their rural properties, class antagonisms intensified. They formed paramilitary groups with US support. Today, they are still part of Colombian’s intelligence network.
Villar and Cottle make a detailed class analysis of Colombia and its relation to the United States to demonstrate the importance of the drug trade for the economic stability of both countries, the involvement of the respective governments’ agencies in trafficking operations, and the futility of persecution of cartel leaders to combat traffic.
The description of Colombia as a narco-state is justified by pointing to several aspects of Colombia class structure: the shared enmity of the narco-traffickers and the traditional elites towards social movements, the cooperation of the national army with “illegal” paramilitary groups, the dependence of the legal economy on the drug economy, and the political prominence of individuals with known ties to the cartels.
The fusion between the state and the narcotraffickers, however, is by no means free of the occasional confrontation. The book’s account of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar illustrates how conflict of interests can escalate into bloody confrontations between sectors of the narco-bourgeoisie. As they engaged in an all-out war with Escobar’s Medellin cartel, Colombian and American officials allowed the Cali cartel to prosper and integrate deeper into the power structure. Its subsequent disarticulation did not disrupt the already established narco-military networks. Under the leadership of Carlos Castaño, these networks were prepared to ruthlessly advance the class interest of the narco-bourgeoisie.
FARC’s involvement in the drug economy consists mainly on taxing the initial stages of the process. These steps are of little added value when compared with subsequent steps of the trade chain. Nevertheless, this role becomes the basis for US official to promote the paradigm of a unique and inseparable fight against the single entity of narco-terrorism.
By exaggerating the role of FARC in the cocaine industry, the US justified an imperialist campaign known as Plan Colombia aimed at defeating the insurgent group. Plan Colombia coincided with Alvaro Uribe’s governing agenda entitled “Democratic Security,” which was simply a doctrine of state terror that applied Washington’s counterinsurgency guidelines.
Not coincidentally, the Uribe era brought massive investments in capital-intensive infrastructure directed at exploiting the country’s natural resources. At the same time, neoliberal legislation eliminated labor rights, and paramilitary campaigns cleared out the population from rural areas in investors’ sights.
The careful description of these phenomena allows Villar and Cottle to conclude,
“Behind the official discourse of fighting drugs and terrorism there remains an agenda in Colombia that is no longer hidden: to secure military victory over the FARC and eliminate obstacles to US and international investment in mega-projects for the efficient exploitation of Colombia’s rich natural resources.”
To secure these objectives paramilitaries target everyone that dare challenge the economic interests of the imperial-comprador partnership. The authors go to great lengths to describe the terrorism of the narco-state and the psychological operations used to legitimize it.
Effects of the war on drugs
The last part of the book provides a description of the consequences of the war on drugs. Massive fumigation results in relocation of coca plantations further into the Amazon and in the regionalization of the drug economy across Latin America.
The dissolution of the cartels has produced a decentralization of the drug economy into many disparate entities. The industry became commoditized allowing the entrance of new players. Banking institutions help launder drug money and US companies participate in smuggling schemes to obtain black market pesos, helping to offset the nation’s trade deficit.
The cocaine industry provides profitable opportunities for “legitimate” American corporations, too. There has been a proliferation of private military companies (PMC) that help secure the flow of drug profits to US financial institutions. To maintain this flow, the banking industry must resist any attempt at regulating its practices, and the Pentagon must shield PMCs from investigation. To illustrate the inner working of these networks, the authors describe in detail the activities of several PMCs.
A war for drugs, a war of terror
This work does a superb work in connecting the dynamics of the internal conflict with the hegemonic interests of Washington. For Colombian readers it reveals how the strings are pulled to benefit international corporate interests. For American readers it shows the humanitarian crisis that American “aid” has caused.
The analysis put forward of the US-directed war on drugs and the remarkable description of its real effects is of fundamental importance for future social movements both in the US and in Colombia. Social struggles cannot succeed if they are blind to the real nature of the narco-state. The book is a useful tool in this regard.
Two warnings are needed. First, by defining the concept of the narco-bourgeoisie the authors provide an excellent analytical tool to explain many of the realities of Colombia and war on drugs. Unfortunately, careless use of the concept may hide internal conflicts inside the elite. After all, it was a sector of the bourgeoisie that prevented Uribe from holding on to power.
A second defect is the appearance that class conflict is limited to the FARC-led struggle against the government. This is a consequence of a recurrent technique used by Colombian governments: movements are always accused of being infiltrated by FARC. It is not surprising that international observers idealize the potential of FARC as a transformative force. This view is a serious obstacle for the growth of social organizations. The guerrillas do not have a monopoly on class resistance; the book forgets this.
With these two caveats in mind, one can follow the book’s carefully constructed arguments and accept its maxim: “this is a war for drugs and a war of terror” that immiserates Colombians while cocaine floods the global markets.
EN LA boca del Catatumbo, un río que divide Colombia de Venezuela, un singular fenómeno natural acontece sobre la marisma, donde el río desemboca en el Lago de Maracaibo. Cada otra noche, casi con regularidad, el cielo de esta pequeña área se ilumina con de relámpagos –unos 20.000 por noche. Se dice que los rayos del Catatumbo traicionaron al pirata inglés Sir Francis Drake cuando trató de asaltar los puertos españoles en el siglo 16.
Hoy en día, río arriba, al lado colombiano del Catatumbo, otro tipo de tormenta mantiene al país en vela.
Desde el 10 de junio, más de 16.000 campesinos se han movilizado hacia las ciudades de Ocaña y Tibú para solicitar el establecimiento de una Zona de Reserva Campesina (ZRC) –una designación legal que otorgaría a la región un plan de desarrollo rural. Las protestas han surgido en una región tradicionalmente controlada por las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), la insurgencia armada más antigua del continente con casi medio siglo de existencia.
Los campesinos exigen al gobierno reducir la erradicación de la coca –un cultivo tradicional en la región que el gobierno quiere eliminar, bajo la presión de Washington– a menos que además proporcione asistencia para cultivos alternativos.
El retorno por la venta de un kilo de hojas de coca es 1.500 veces mayor que el de un kilo de cacao. Los cultivos legales no son económicamente viables debido a una serie de acuerdos de libre comercio, en particular con Estados Unidos, que han deprimido el precio de los productos agrícolas básicos. Para los campesinos, el cultivo de la coca sigue siendo la única manera de mantenerse a flote en un difícil entorno económico.
El 22 de junio, la policía antidisturbios disparó contra los manifestantes, dejando cuatro muertos y 50 heridos. César Jerez, un líder de los campesinos, anunció la existencia de videos que, según él, responsabiliza a la policía de la muerte de dos manifestantes. Al menos 10 agentes de la policía resultaron heridos en el enfrentamiento.
El gobierno insinúa que las FARC están detrás de las protestas. Si es así, entonces no es cierto que, como afirman los gobiernos colombiano y estadounidense, la guerrilla tiene poco apoyo entre los campesinos.
Los campesinos intentaron negociar un acuerdo. Líderes campesinos habían acordado ir a Bogotá, la capital colombiana, para hablar con el presidente Juan Manuel Santos, pero la reunión fue cancelada después de que Santos rechazara confirmar su presencia. Los campesinos declinaron negociar con el ex alcalde de Bogotá, Luis Eduardo Garzón.
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ESTA ES la última de una serie de huelgas campesinas que han paralizado la economía en distintas regiones de Colombia. Una histórica huelga de productores de café y cacao a principios de este año interrumpió el flujo de mercancías al puerto de Buenaventura y a la frontera suroeste con Ecuador. Desde entonces, huelgas de menor notoriedad han afectado la producción de arroz, azúcar y papas han avanzado hacia el norte por la cordillera hasta llegar al Catatumbo colombiano junto a la frontera venezolana.
El camino recorrido por esta cadena de huelgas cubre las áreas más densamente pobladas del país indica que Colombia experimenta un auge de la lucha popular, debilitando así la imagen de un país refugio de la inversión segura que el gobierno promueve.
Las demandas de los campesinos están relacionadas con el compromiso de Santos a dirigir la economía del país hacia la minería. Además de producir condiciones económicas desfavorables, la industria extractiva causa daños al medio ambiente de las comunidades en lucha.
En sus negociaciones con el gobierno de Colombia en Cuba, las FARC propuso la creación de 59 ZRC, arriba de las seis que ya existen. El 26 de mayo, las FARC y representantes del gobierno anunciaron que habían llegado a un acuerdo sobre asuntos agrarios. Las expectativas de los campesinos han aumentado desde entonces. Pero la brutal represión a la insurrección campesina da malos augurios sobre el compromiso real del gobierno a solucionar la cuestión agraria.
El Relámpago del Catatumbo ha iluminado la región durante miles de años. Mientras las negociaciones entre el gobierno y las FARC continúan en La Habana, el levantamiento de Catatumbo arroja luz sobre la actitud del gobierno hacia el campesinado de Colombia.
Escrito originalmente en inglés para socialistworker.org Traducido por Lance Selfa
Meanwhile, key legislators were on their way to Havana, Cuba, where delicate negotiations between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym FARC) have been ongoing in an effort to end nearly five decades of armed conflict.
But even as the two sides engage in talks on neutral terrain, violent conflict in Colombia between government forces and FARC paramilitaries have intensified, strengthening the hand of those who prefer a continuation of the conflict. For example, former President Alvaro Uribe Velez, who is a mouthpiece for the interests of the big landowners, has sought to turn outrage at the ongoing violence to speak out against the Havana peace negotiations. “This socioeconomic group amassed its fortunes during the war and feels threatened that a negotiated peace might result in reform that will redistribute land,” explains blogger Nazih Richani.
But this week, it’s the specter of widespread labor unrest that has captured the national spotlight as well as thrust itself into the everyday live of Colombia’s people. According to Colombia Reports:
In the south-central Huila department, authorities declared a “sanitary emergency” because trash could not be collected. In the northwestern Antioquia department, the road connecting the cities of Medellin and Ciudad Bolivar were reportedly blocked by protesters. Road blocks were also reported on 20 different roads in nine Colombian departments, prompting the country’s vice-president, Angelino Garzon, to ask the protesters to “allow medications [and] food” to pass through.
According to reports, 25 protesters were injured Saturday [March 2] as Colombian riot police retook a road in Huila. The coffee farmers in this department said that they would consider marching to Colombia’s capital city of Bogota if the government did not acquiesce to their demands.
Colombia’s truckers also appear willing to escalate their militancy to demonstrate their seriousness. “Colombia’s truckers union (ACC) on [March 1] announced that they would stage country-wide protests over a national fuel increase, and the president of the union reportedly said [March 3] that the road blockage would continue until the government removes the six-cent increase in gas prices,” also according to Colombia Reports.
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OIL AND coal may now be Colombia’s first and second most-important foreign-exchange earners, while coffee has fallen to fifth, but the icon of Juan Valdez handpicking coffee beans remains fused with Colombia’s national identity. Support for Colombia’s coffee growers is itself widespread–even beyond Colombia. Argentinean soccer superstar Diego Maradona, for example, posed with a sign of support for Colombian coffee growers.
Across Colombia, many merchants closed shops in solidarity, at least on the first day of the strike. Even former President Uribe has voiced support for the farmers, though presumably he’s more interested in further diminishing the plunging popularity of Santos than in seeing a victory for growers who have a strong interest in land reform. Reports also suggest that he may run for senate in 2014 since the Constitution forbids him from again serving as president.
In preparation for the strike, farmers of the region collected pots and cooking wood and built camps. They were supposed to bring food for the first day and raw vegetables for subsequent days, and they collected money to collectively hire a bus to take them to focal points for their protests.
But it wasn’t long before riot police assaulted their camps–with brutality. One protester lost his hand to an explosive thrown at him by an unidentified police officer. Police have razed camps to the ground and thrown food and gear to the ground. As coffee growers attempted to salvage their food and other necessaries from the soil, police spread toxic chemicals over the spoils to make them inedible.
Scenes like these were repeated throughout the country, while comments from police defending the brutality they engaged in because it “interrupted their vacation days” have served to further taint the image of police.
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IN A video that has spread virally through social networks, a 77-year-old coffee grower struggles to hold back his tears as he reminds viewers that coffee had been the backbone of the Colombian economy for 80 years.
For many of those years, growers paid into a fund managed by the Colombian coffee growers federation, Fedecafe, to see them through tough times. In recent years, a trifecta of crop disease, bad weather and a strong currency has forced growers to sell their produce at a loss. Yet just as the fund is more urgently needed than ever, the growers have found years of corruption, poor management and neoliberalism have pillaged the fund.
By March 1, the indigenous communities of Northern Cauca were also engaged in setting up road blockades. During the Uribe years, their movement had effectively resisted the government offensive against their territories. As they arrived in support of the growers, they brought their own contribution to the political narrative: “It’s not just the coffee; it is the agricultural sector and the whole economic model.”
The media has tried–unsuccessfully–to deflect attention away from the crisis with tales from the Vatican of the pope’s resignation. And on March 2, the government attempted to disorganize the strike by announcing that negotiations with Fedecafe had succeeded and the strike was over.
Apparently the government hadn’t learned, however, that Dignidad Cafetera, not Fedecafe, was the organization mobilizing the strikers. The public, despite the papal telenovela foisted upon them, was well aware of the difference. By the afternoon of March 3, dozens of big rigs were blocking access to the port of Buenaventura: the truck drivers had begun preparing for their strike.
The two major armed groups that for decades have claimed to be fighting for the people have been visibly distant from the struggle. The government is trying desperately to find a culprit to blame for the intensifying crisis while not jeopardizing the peace talks in Habana.
But as usual, government officials have tried to associate the popular revolt with the deeply unpopular rebel groups. But this just makes for ridiculous public relations since the government’s negotiations with the FARC in Havana are daily front page news, begging the question of why peaceful protest is met with clubs and tear gas while armed guerrillas get high-level diplomatic meetings.
This has no doubt contributed to changing ideas more broadly. The strikes by coffee growers and truck drivers have wide popular support and have helped to break the stigma associated with popular struggle in the rural regions of Colombia. The strikes have highlighted the disconnection between social movements and the guerrilla groups and clarified for all to see the attitude of the government as well as Fedecafe.
At another point, the government tried to pin responsibility on the main opposition party, but the opposition quickly responded. Party leaders said that they lacked the power to call such a strike, since this power resides in Dignidad Cafetera; at the same time, they defended the right to protest and condemned the brutal response by police.
If the coffee growers follow through on their pledge to march on Bogota, the capital of Colombia, the specter of 100,000 or more small farmers would certainly be enough to make the political class tremble.
The reputation of the government depends on isolating the residents of the capital of the realities of the countryside. The last movement that threatened to walk to the capital was the Minga, an indigenous movement in 2008. Then-President Uribe, despite stratospherically high rates of popularity, prevented the arrival of the Minga in Bogota by intercepting it and reaching an agreement.
It is unclear what promises the government can offer without upsetting international interests. Recently, Colombia signed free trade agreements with the United States and South Korea, which constrains the government’s ability to implement tariffs or other policies to protect agricultural and industrial activities.
Whether the government is more inclined to break with its newly signed treaties or to continue with repression of internal dissent is now being tested on the roads of Colombia.