Adamant: Hardest metal

In Venezuela, the drug wars know no borders

By Juan Forero
The Sun-Sentinel-The New York Times
Posted June 14 2003

LA COOPERATIVA, Venezuela · More than ever, Colombia's 39-year-old civil war is spreading beyond its porous borders, bringing to its five neighbors a troubling brew of armed leftist rebels, right-wing death squads, drugs and refugees.

Increasingly, the guerrillas have set up camps and the drug traffickers used by both sides to support their forces have opened transport corridors through isolated jungles in other countries as a Washington-backed drug eradication program in Colombia has intensified. The refugee problem is also spilling over, with more than 300,000 Colombians having crossed into Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela in the last four years, according to United Nationsestimates that have not been publicly released.

The problems are most pronounced in Venezuela, where a 1,400-mile border has become a flash point between the left-leaning government of President Hugo Chávez and its ideological opposite in Colombia under President Alvaro Uribe.

The complications were obvious on a recent day in this hamlet just inside Venezuela. Only miles from a Venezuelan military base, a ragtag band of about 10 Colombian rebels took a break, supremely at ease as they lolled on makeshift beds, their Kalashnikov assault rifles hung from wooden posts. They swatted mosquitoes as they chatted with foreign visitors.

"We are here because the people wanted us here, so we have come," said the commander, who identified himself as José. He was referring to the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, who became a regular presence four years ago and have been increasingly welcomed by poor Venezuelans and Colombian refugees.

In late March, with the world focused on the war in Iraq, Venezuelan military aircraft bombed and strafed this outpost. The target was not the leftist rebels, who regard Chávez as something of a hero, but the Colombian paramilitary group that had pursued the guerrillas across the border.

Colombian officials and Venezuelan opposition leaders condemned the bombing as an intervention by Chávez in Colombia's war. Venezuela angrily rejected the criticism, saying Colombia had failed to control its borders and allowed both sides to bring their conflict across the scarcely patrolled frontier.

The spread of the conflict led to a hasty meeting in April between Chávez and Uribe, who promised to work together.

In recent months, vast fields of Colombian coca, the tropical plant that yields cocaine, have been sprayed from the air and destroyed. In response, growers and traffickers have relied increasingly on border areas -- in some cases, in other countries -- to plant and transport illegal crops and drugs, Colombian and U.N. officials say.

In turn, the guerrillas and paramilitary groups -- both classified as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department -- intrude, fighting over control of the crops, the drug trafficking corridors and the field hands for harvesting.

According to Colombian intelligence reports and Venezuelan landowners, Colombian guerrillas kidnap ranchers, extort money from businessmen and traffic in drugs. Colombian intelligence reports also say that the rebels have set up temporary camps in at least three Venezuelan states, eluding Colombian forces and their de facto paramilitary allies.

"It is an area that allows them to rest, to reorganize and regain momentum to again come back into this country," a Colombian general said in a telephone interview.

Venezuelan landowners and merchants who live along the border have accused the Venezuelan military of ignoring or colluding with rebels. It is unclear whether that is government policy, but U.N. officials, Venezuelan farmers and aid groups report that Venezuelan military units have tolerated the rebels for years.

The Venezuelan government denies partisanship. It has 20,000 troops along the frontier, and will send 4,000 more, officials say. "It is not true what they say," said the commander of a marine patrol on the Gold River. "We repel both of them, the guerrillas and the paramilitaries."

US DEA says Rome-seized 100k cocaine shipment transited Venezuela to Europe

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2003
By: David Coleman

US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents say over 100k of cocaine transported by Colombian and Italian nationals has been seized at Rome's Fiumicino airport as it arrived from Caracas destined for drug markets in Italy and in Spain ... it was the second major seizure at Fiumicino airport after an Italian national was arrested in January with 24k cocaine.

An ongoing investigation of the drug traffickers led to the additional arrest of four Italian nationals with more arrests expected shortly, according to the DEA which is conducting the investigation in liaison with the DEA's Caracas office and Venezuelan anti-narcotics police.

In its 2002 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the US State Department, said that cocaine destined for Italian and other European consumption originates with Colombian and Mexican criminal groups. Heroin and cocaine are smuggled into Italy via boat and overland via truck and privately-owned vehicle. In smaller quantities, the drugs are transported via (primarily Nigerian and Colombian) couriers or air express parcels.

The report says that Colombian FARC, ELN and AUC terrorist group control much of Colombia's narcotics production and distribution, reaping enormous profits ... the United States remains committed to supporting the Colombian government's unified campaign against drug trafficking and designated foreign terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile the US State Department reports several major drug busts in Italy in 2002 that had South American connections. In February, 279k of cocaine packaged in a containerized shipment were seized at the port of Naples, while in April, 25k of cocaine were seized by Italian customs agents. The cocaine arrived in Italy via two pieces of luggage from Caracas via France.

Fishing vessels transport large quantities of narcotics from Colombia to Mexico and other countries, with the final destination being the United States and Europe, the report said, adding that the vessels are often loaded and off-loaded at sea by "go-fast" boats operating from secluded coastal areas. Fishing vessels are considered well-suited for smuggling operations, as they have the ability to remain at sea for long periods, transit vast distances, draw minimal attention, and hide among legitimate fishing boats.

National Guard (GN) seizes 17.7 kilos of heroin at Caracas international airport

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, June 02, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue

The National Guard (GN) Anti-Drugs Command has seized a total 17.7 kilos of allegedly high quality heroin at the Caracas (Simon Bolivar) international airport at Maiquetia.

Anti-Drugs Division chief, General (GN) Jose Antonio Paez reports that 12.1 kilos were discovered hidden in a double seemed dresses that in a parcel on its way to new York.

In a separate incident a 40-year old Venezuelan citizen was arrested allegedly attempting to transport 5.5 kilos of heroin in a 5-liter bottle of wine ... his flight was bound for the Dominican Republic.

Although most of last week's seizures were cocaine, narcotics control sources say they are pleased with successes at the airport, especially since the introduction of sniffer dogs.

The amount of arrests over the last few weeks is said to be the tip of the iceberg of what had been passing undetected through Venezuelan airports in small but significant quantities.

U.S. seeks extradition of alleged South American kingpin

June 2, 2003, 3:29 PM EDT

NEW YORK (NewsDay.com-AP) _ Federal prosecutors are seeking the extradition of an alleged South American drug kingpin who they say ordered dozens of his minions to swallow heroin pellets to smuggle into the United States.

Ramrio Lopez-Imitola's cartel, based in Colombia and Venezuela, has smuggled roughly $200 million worth of heroin into the United States since 1997, the U.S. government said in extradition papers filed Monday.

Lopez-Imitola was arrested April 4 in Colombia and admitted at the time that he had been selling drugs for 30 years, U.S. prosecutors said.

A federal indictment accuses Lopez-Imitola of using terror and torture to preside over the drug cartel to make sure his drug couriers would not cooperate with investigators or steal drugs.

As often as 60 times per month, Lopez-Imitola directed lower members of the cartel to swallow heroin pellets or to carry the drug hidden in suitcases, prosecutors said.

One courier died in Miami after one of the 89 pellets he had swallowed burst in his stomach. The body was recovered by Miami Beach police after it was dumped in Biscayne Bay, prosecutors said.

The War On Drugs Starts To Metastasize

PLASTIC.COM
found on the New York Times
posted Mon 2 Jun 10:04am

"Colombia's civil war, already involving leftist guerrillas, paramilitary groups and the national army, is now overflowing into Venezuela," Screename2000 writes. "The 18,000-member Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) has intensified its ongoing war with Colombia's government in the wilderness along the Venezuela- Colombia border.

"The FARC was formed by Colombian peasants who opposed their harsh working conditions and other economic hardships resultant of the settling of Colombia's frontier lands. Since its inception, the FARC has grown into a formidable military force, in most part due to funding from Colombian drug lords who pay taxes for farming in coca and poppy fields under the FARC's control. Local farmers, able to earn a decent wage working illegally on the druglords' fields, and unemployed youth are often sympathetic to and support the FARC.

"When Colombia's national army was unable to protect the property interests of ranchers, farmers and businesspersons most often targeted by the FARC, the paramilitary organization United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC) came into being. The AUC soon resorted to seeking funds from drug lords, creating a civil war for control of farmland, drug trafficking corridors and labor between the FARC and the AUC and its de facto ally, the Colombian military.

"However, the battles among these three groups have begun to spill across national borders, and the FARC is supposedly finding a new ally -- the Venezuelan military. In 1999, FARC guerrillas were attacked by paramilitary units in the region close to Venezuela and rich in coca fields. The rebels retreated to 'get a beachhead in Venezuelan territory,' according to Alfredo Rangel, a former consultant to the Colombian Army. Colombian refugees who'd fled from attacks by the AUC and even poor Venezuelan citizens welcomed the FARC and supported their counteroffensive to retake the region in Colombia.

"Since March 21, Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe has been alleging that Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez is not only turning a blind eye toward FARC forces reorganizing and mounting offenses from Venezuela, but that Venezuela's military is directly aiding the guerrillas. Venezuela has turned the accusations back on Colombia, stating the country has failed to contain its civil war within its borders. President Chavez claims to be attacking both the FARC and AUC without favor to either and only when necessary to protect his nation's sovereignty and stability. The war of words between the ideologically opposed leaders may negatively affect their cooperation in reducing the conflict and even spill into trade issues."

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by M. Mosher at Mon 2 Jun 3:58pm score of 2.5 nuanced
    in reply to comment 14

nmiguy, I usually hate to recycle previous comments but I didn't want to re-type it all. This was from a May 3 comment that I wrote to help explain drug legalization.

Most non-drug-using advocates of drug legalization believe that legalization would go something like this:

Pharmaceutical companies would be licensed to make and sell drugs. No advertising would be allowed and age restrictions would be in place. Drugs would not be sold on shelves. Instead, a buyer would need to ask for them from the pharmacy — no prescription needed. It would still be legal to discriminate against drug users when it comes to employment. Certain jobs would be mandatory drug free — bus drivers, pilots, police officers, heavy equipment operators, etc. The money that is currently spent on interdiction would be re-directed to anti-drug education and rehabilitation. If you don't think this would have much impact, think of the over 1 million inmates who are in prison for nothing more that drug violations or drug related crime. That's a lot of money.

There would still be illicit trade as underage addicts maintain a trickle of demand for it, but most of the money would be taken out of the drug trade. Cocaine is easier and cheaper to produce than aspirin. Marijuana is easy and cheap to grow. The drug companies could charge 1/10th current street price and still make enough money to make AIDS medications free (I just made that up for effect, but you get the idea. It's probably not far off base).

The tens of billions of dollars annually that flow outside the US to drug cartels would mostly remain in the US economy. This would devastate the Colombian economy but it would also end their civil war.

Inner city gangs would diminish, again because the money would dry up. When gang activities decrease, murder rates drop, theft and burglary rates drop, and inner city decay can be reversed. As crime drops, business insurance rates drop and consumer prices benefit. As gang violence decreases, health care costs decrease.

What we've seen is that prohibition doesn't work. We know that alcoholism did not skyrocket after 1920s prohibition ended, so it's unlikely drug addiction would skyrocket. However, even if drugs do have different characteristics than alcohol and make for easier addiction, a battle against growing addiction can't possibly be as ineffective as the drug war.

No policy (well-intentioned though it may be) has been more detrimental to the US economy than the decades of the war on drugs. Legalizing drugs isn't giving up — it's a pragmatic way to improve society. And we shouldn't do it for reasons of decadence and debauchery — we should legalize for economically selfish reasons, usually the thing that makes the capitalist world go around.

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by kuuba at Tue 3 Jun 6:16am score of 1
    in reply to comment 8

Well — the US is one of the reasons the current global drug policies are what they are. If there were to be a change in US drug policy, it would surely bring about similar changes around the world.

In the EU, there is quite a push to decriminalize marijuana — even on the political level.

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by Pax at Tue 3 Jun 11:24am score of 1
    in reply to comment 8

Well, yeah. I was just presenting a theoretical case to answer your question of "Why does legalizing drugs drive down prices and drive out crime?" If we're talking about the real world, I don't think that legalizing so-called hard drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc) makes a lot of sense. But pot? Sure, bring it on.
Remember, the enemy's gate is down

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by bytesex at Wed 4 Jun 7:09am score of 1
    in reply to comment 8

If the US legalizes, what effect does this have on the rest of the world? Many countries will be hard pressed to keep drugs out, and if the drug trade booms legally in the US it may turn the entire planet upside down.

So ? You can't import alcohol into Saudi Arabia, but that doesn't keep almost the entire rest of the world from producing it.
.sig (frivolous)

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by nmiguy at Wed 4 Jun 7:23am score of 1
    in reply to comment 30

Oh yes we know that Saudi Arabia is a huge exporter and importer.

You totally misunderstand the importance of the US in world affairs. There is a HUGE difference in the influence on the world economy between the US and Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia suddenly changed its laws and started importing alcohol, that alone would have a significant impact on the world economy. Multiply that by 1000 if the US legalized drugs.
"Look at the sky turn a hell-fire red, Lord. Somebody's house is burning down." House Burning Down Jimi Hendrix

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by bytesex at Wed 4 Jun 12:48pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 31

I am not in the mist about the importance of the US economy to that of the world (roughly 21 percent, I thought), but I thought you were talking about import not export.
.sig (frivolous)

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by nmiguy at Wed 4 Jun 12:52pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 32

Good point. If the US legalizes the drug trade, the US will become a major producer and exporter of drugs. This wil be another factor in cutting off the money to Central American countries that produce cocaine & marijuana.
"Look at the sky turn a hell-fire red, Lord. Somebody's house is burning down." House Burning Down Jimi Hendrix

  1. What about the harm of doing so?
    by DomoSun at Wed 4 Jun 1:18pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 19

Most non-drug-using advocates of drug legalization believe that legalization would go something like this: Pharmaceutical companies would be licensed to make and sell drugs...

You've listed some possible drug-legalization outcomes that are positive, but you've not mentioned any negative, as if there are no negative results of doing so.

What we've seen is that prohibition doesn't work. We know that alcoholism did not skyrocket after 1920s prohibition ended, so it's unlikely drug addiction would skyrocket.

Maybe prohibition doesn't always work 100% like clock work? Maybe prohibition didn't work because alcohol was previously legal? And maybe, assuming it true, alcoholism did not skyrocket because it's not as addictive as cocaine or opium? Suggesting that because prohibition didn't work with alcohol, it will never work is a Genetic Fallacy. Many drugs are currently prohibited and continue to be. Cocaine and Opium are already legal for medicinal use, as well they should be. The reason we prohibit things is because they have a potential for abuse and harm to society.

However, even if drugs do have different characteristics than alcohol and make for easier addiction, a battle against growing addiction can't possibly be as ineffective as the drug war.

I think the battle against growing addiction could easily be ineffective — as it currently is — considering that the battle against drugs is so difficult as a result of addiction. I also think that legalizing drugs will result in more people addicted to them. Even taxation of drugs does not stop addiction. The black market discovered this long ago when they realized you can charge a massive price for heroin and people will still buy.

I wouldn't go as far opposite an extreme as to say that legalizing drugs never works, there are many drugs sold over the counter. But one has only to look at Alcohol and Tobacco to see that legalizing drugs can result in harm to society. Tobacco should probably be prohibited more, but restricting Tobacco is already hard enough now that "the cat's out of the bag."

No policy (well-intentioned though it may be) has been more detrimental to the US economy than the decades of the war on drugs. Legalizing drugs isn't giving up — it's a pragmatic way to improve society.

Taking drugs and even guns away from the black market would improve society. But your solution is like taking guns away from the black market and handing them out freely. It's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I think that legalizing drugs like cocaine and opium would be like legalizing slavery, because that's essentially what drug addiction is.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.

  1. Too late.
    by DomoSun at Wed 4 Jun 1:23pm score of 1.5 informative
    in reply to comment 15

Either of these would help soften up the public to a decriminalization vote, provided that the organizers of this movement can keep it from getting hijacked by a bunch of hippie wannabes who just want to get stoned.

Too late. Though the public is rather stupid and most of them are falling for the "medicinal marijuana" hoax. I was sympathetic for a while, too. Until I actually smoked the stuff, and even then I still had to read the data on significant numbers of test subjects having adverse toxic reactions, paranoia, and persistent and recurrent depersonalization and flashbacks. And that it's not more effective than codeine. Then I realized that my horrific experience with marijuana was not so uncommon.

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

  1. Re: What about the harm of doing so?
    by Goldmund
    at Wed 4 Jun 4:45pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 34

Well, your assertion would work except that all the drugs you name were legal at some point in the past century. Marijuana was only criminalized in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act, before then it was an unregulated, but hard to get substance. It wasn't until the rise of Jazz and the Roaring 20s that marijuana became the 'in' drug for the Flappers and the Jazz crowd. From there it hit the white, middle class teenagers and that's when shit hit the fan (metaphorically speaking). Before the white kids were doing it, it was seen as a 'Mexican Problem' or something that you often found on Jazz musicians.

Marijuana's criminalization was seen as a good way to further harass the 'criminal element' (much like Nixon's 1971 Controlled Substances Act was used to harass anti-war protestors and other 'undesirables') and make it easier to put away suspected criminals. It was passed under a flurry of propaganda with little attention to facts or independent studies. Before criminalization, it's use was limited to minority ethnic groups, but after the propaganda blitz, it's use continued to spread among white kids until it got a huge boost in the 60s with the hippie crowd. From there, it's become the drug of choice for millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Continuing it's criminalization in the face of such hypocrisy and obvious proof of it's harmlessness is not only disingenuous, it's criminal in and of itself.

I think the battle against growing addiction could easily be ineffective — as it currently is — considering that the battle against drugs is so difficult as a result of addiction. I also think that legalizing drugs will result in more people addicted to them. Even taxation of drugs does not stop addiction. The black market discovered this long ago when they realized you can charge a massive price for heroin and people will still buy.

The battle against addiction is winnable, as addicts want nothing more than the comfort of their next fix. Treatment programs in several other nations (Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.) have shown that needle exchange and addiction control drastically reduce the crime and disease associated with the drugs and with treatment, addicts can often lead productive, non-destructive lives.

The battle against the black market, however, is far more difficult due to the illegal nature of the drug trade and the massive amount of profit it generates. Because of illegality, many drugs have 100-200% profit margins, which makes risking ones life for a cut not a bad business plan. Your comment on the taxation of drugs also misses a basic facet of the drug trade that it shares with every other consumer product, drug users are very price sensitive. If taxed, the results of this tax could be used on an effective anti-heroin campaign and treatment program for current addicts. Heroin addiction isn't de facto harmful, people can live successful, productive lives with a constant, controlled source of heroin. Plenty of people are addicted to caffeine, should we regulate that too?

Taking drugs and even guns away from the black market would improve society. But your solution is like taking guns away from the black market and handing them out freely. It's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Again, you've missed the point. Heroin will not necessarily kill you. Also, heroin can't be used for anything besides it's stated purpose (consumption). Guns can be used to rob, murder, rape and cause general panic, this is such a bad comparison that I refuse to continue arguing with you about it. I suggest you read up some on the subject. Go to some Government sites to see their side of the argument and then check out some other sites concerning decriminalization and medical initiatives.

Newscandy eartrumpet bongwater fucknozzle! - rmurf62

  1. Re: What about the harm of doing so?
    by DomoSun at Thu 5 Jun 10:27am score of 1
    in reply to comment 37

Well, your assertion would work except that all the drugs you name were legal at some point in the past century. Marijuana was only criminalized in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act, before then it was an unregulated, but hard to get substance...

OK, so maybe alcohol prohibition failed because its use and availability was so wide spread? Maybe it was some other reason? I never said that whatever that reason was was a justifiable reason for its legality. Nor would popularity alone be reason enough to legalize marijuana.

Continuing it's criminalization in the face of such hypocrisy and obvious proof of it's harmlessness is not only disingenuous, it's criminal in and of itself.

That sounds like quite a dramatic assertion. Your paragraph provided no proof that marijuana is harmless. Such a claim is laughable. Even marijuana advocates declare that marijuana is not totally harmless. And I don't know what hypocrisy you're referring to exactly, be it the legality of alcohol or your perceived reasons marijuana was originally outlawed, but I do know that there are good reasons marijuana should remain illegal.

I'm not totally against medical marijuana for really sick people, I just happen to know that marijuana is not effective medicinally. There are better drugs out there. It's sort of like if someone said I must have alcohol to treat my anxiety. The fact is that there have been major drug advancements that have proven more effective than alcohol. And there are better pain medications than marijuana that are less unpredictable, have less serious side effects and are more effective.

Most of the people who support medicinal marijuana are also in favor of recreational use. I suspect that cancer patients who are in favor of medical marijuana are hippies, and even if they do find pleasure or satisfaction from smoking marijuana, they are a biased unscientific sample. Any scientific sample would show adverse reactions to marijuana. Many trial patients simply will not tolerate marijuana, in fact, 30% of recreational marijuana users refrain from marijuana use due to negative experiences.

The battle against addiction is winnable, as addicts want nothing more than the comfort of their next fix.

The whole problem with addiction is addiction, idiot. Once a person is addicted, the problem is there already. Providing an endless supply of drugs doesn't solve the problem. Within the therapeutic community of addicts, the saying goes that "There is no such thing as a cure for drug abuse, only addicts who are not currently using."

Treatment programs in several other nations (Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.) have shown that needle exchange and addiction control drastically reduce the crime and disease associated with the drugs and with treatment, addicts can often lead productive, non-destructive lives.

We don't need to decriminalize drugs simply to have treatment programs. We already have treatment programs. You might argue that they don't work, but that's simply because your idea of treatment is providing an endless supply of drugs to addicts, then taxing them. It's just a really fucked-up, ass-backwards version of slavery. Maybe we should legalize slavery, then tax slave owners so we can fund anti-slavery campaigns. In the end, you just have more slavery.

Because of illegality, many drugs have 100-200% profit margins, which makes risking ones life for a cut not a bad business plan. Your comment on the taxation of drugs also misses a basic facet of the drug trade that it shares with every other consumer product, drug users are very price sensitive.

Price sensitive my ass. We are not talking about your typical everyday consumer product, we are talking about addictive drugs. When was the last time you heard someone say "I need some lipstick! I know what I'll do. I'll become a prostitute, get evicted, eat out of a dumpster, sleep in a box... Then I should have enough money for that $1000 lipstick." In the market place, the more expensive something gets, the less people buy it. But with drugs, people will spend all their money on it because it's an addiction that causes people to behave irrationally.

If taxed, the results of this tax could be used on an effective anti-heroin campaign and treatment program for current addicts.

Wow, what a brilliant plan. I can see it now:

"Drug addiction is the #1 problem in America. Show your pledge of support, use drugs. This message brought to you by Philip Morris. Dedicated to your slavery."

Heroin addiction isn't de facto harmful, people can live successful, productive lives with a constant, controlled source of heroin. Plenty of people are addicted to caffeine, should we regulate that too?

While there are no medical consequences of extended use of pure heroin, overdoses and the negligent lifestyle associated with heroin use accounts for the harm to the individual and society. Don't even try to compare caffeine to heroin.

Again, you've missed the point. Heroin will not neces

read the entire comment...

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by Buenaventura at Mon 2 Jun 2:17pm score of 2.5 informative
    in reply to comment 2

The FARC has some legitimate complaints about the Colombian government, but they are primarily a drug running operation in the guise of a "populist insurgency."

Eh, no.

"To date, there is little to indicate the insurgent groups are trafficking in cocaine themselves, either by producing cocaine HCL and selling it to Mexican syndicates, or by establishing their own distribution networks in the United States." -DEA Congressional Testimony by Donnie Marshall, Chief of Operations, DEA before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice regarding the "Cooperative Efforts of the Colombian National Police and Military in Anti-narcotics Efforts, and Current DEA Initiatives in Colombia" on July 9, 1997. Page 6.

They merely tax the drug trade in their area of control, rather than themselves being "a drug running operation" as you suggest.

Moreover, I would points out that:

1) Everyone is in bed with drug traffickers in Colombia. The government, the police, the army, the rebel, the paramilitaries, everyone. The suggestion of the Bush administration that the FARC alone is responsible for drug trafficking is preposterous.
2) Human Rights Watch alleges that the AUC and other paramilitaries are responsible for approximately 80% of the human rights violations in Colombia. HRW also links the tactical activity and supply of those paramilitaries to the army.
when you run out of bullets grab rocks

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by Screename2000 at Mon 2 Jun 4:09pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 17

Thank you Buenaventura! I was wondering if anyone would catch that bit of gloss over. The AUC (umbrella organization for most of the paramilitaries) often attacked the guerrillas by massacring civilian villagers whom they suspected were surreptitiously supporting the rebels. OTOH, the FARC's civilian attacks were fewer, mostly kidnapping/murdering wealthy individuals for ransom or retaliation for supporting the AUC. And yet, the FARC (probably due to its communist ideology) bears the brunt of being responsible for human rights violations, which as Buenaventura states, is probably more attributable to the AUC.

Further, the FARC doesn't give a rat's ass, and properly so, about some obnoxious Wall Street broker getting high every weekend, wealthy American teens with nothing else to do with their money but snort it, or even American crackheads and whores; they're concerned about the average Colombian peasant in the undeveloped regions of the nation who are hardpressed to eke out a living for themselves. All they care about is that druglords listen to them and provide better working conditions and salaries to these peasants than coffee and banana plantations run by multinationals and regulated by the Colombian government did in the past. All they care about is that the druglords, none of whom are really interested in selling their poison domestically to Colombians, pay them taxes on land in their control which enables them to continue fighting for a government which actually cares about providing healthcare to the poor and sick, allows free and unfettered elections, provides a bearable standard of working conditions and minimum wage. These guys are running drugs, they're making friends with the only people who seem to give a shit about Colombians. It just so happens, thanks to their sharing the same enemy, that they're friends are druglords. Americans are so quick to state that their domestic/foreign policy puts America as Number One; why are we so surprised when political movements in other nations do the same thing?

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by Kevin T. at Mon 2 Jun 8:11pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 17

Here, here. If anyone wants to learn more about the nitty gritty of the relations between the rebel/paramilitary/drug producing groups in Colombia, and all the atrocities they commit, check out a book that just came out in January by Robin Kirk, who is one or Human Right Watch's researchers.

It's called More Terrible Than Death, which pretty much says it all.

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by PD at Mon 2 Jun 7:46pm score of 1.5 informative
    in reply to comment 20

Look, I'm as big a supporter of honest leftist movements as anybody else; but you would have to be blind to suggest that the FARC as an organization is significantly more "pure" then the AUC or the government.

All three of these organizations are full of murdering thugs who are just in it for the money. I'm glad that Buenaventura brought up Human Rights Watch, because they have a depressing report where they detail the FARC's human rights abuses saying, among other things, that the FARC "is responsible for the killings and cruel and inhuman treatment of captured combatants, abductions of civilians, hostage-taking, the use of child soldiers, grossly unfair trials, and forced displacement of civilians. FARC-EP forces also continue to use prohibited weapons, including gas cylinder bombs that wreak indiscriminate havoc and cause appalling injuries, and to attack medical workers and facilities in blatant disregard of international law and the most basic standards of respect for human life." (Source)

Perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard and these people really have the best interest of "the people" in mind when they are murdering innocent civilians, kidnapping honest Colombians, and forcing eleven year old children to fight in their war; but somehow I doubt it.

If you want to talk about real heroes in the Colombian conflect, talk about human rights workers like Alirio Uribe (no relation to the president), and Eduardo Umana Mendoza. People who are trying to bring honesty, compassion, and respect for humanity to the Colombian situation. Don't valorize thugs.

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by Screename2000 at Mon 2 Jun 8:28pm score of 1
    in reply to comment 21

I don't know why, but as of late, Plastic is being consumed by arguments against strawmen. As you rail against those individuals valorizing FARC thugs, I have one very, very simple question: who valorized them?

  1. Re: The situation in Colombia
    by eparchos
    at Tue 3 Jun 4:30am score of 1 in reply to comment 2

Exactly how is this a compelling reason to legalize? If we legalize, and assuming that FARC and other revolutionaries don't find some other source of funding, then the US will have no REASON to subsidize the Colombian government for antinarcotic purposes... oh wait, we already found another reason. Ah, say it with me now, Capitalist Imperialism! Anybody want some coffee?

My irritability keeps me alive and kicking. -Howard DeVoto

  1. A Way In To Venezuela ?
    by elephant1966 at Tue 3 Jun 5:27am score of 2 intriguing

Could this be a way of justifying a US invasion in order to kick out Chavez and get their hands on all that oil ? The State Dept certainly seems keen on achieving both those objectives.

  1. Re: A Way In To Venezuela ?
    by freerange at Tue 3 Jun 8:04am score of 1
    in reply to comment 25

Erm..State? or Defense? Seems to me driving force behind this administration has been the Defense-White House Axis, from Rummy's Defence Policy Board and ending with the Vice President.

But your idea's interesting, "Eliminate an uncooperative regime, and secure more oil" (though we already get 12% of our oil from Venezuela, and Chavez isn't disrupting this, right?) Oil wasn't the only goal in Iraq..the current administration sees benefits from projecting more power in (destabilization, protecting Israel, intimidation, any "islamic extremism" anti-terror excuse you want), that aren't as strong in South America.

In addition, awareness of South America among Americans is much lower than awareness of mideast conflicts (even before 9/11). I don't see the same political capital in big South American operations. Colombia isn't really Israel, and Drug Empires are definitely not Al-Qaeda.

You are not logged in