Ricardo Soberón Garrido



Colombia is neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan nor the Middle East.  However, Colombia currently presents the main elements and tendencies that are predominant in international politics and relations as concerns security, economics and international law together with the risk of spill over into neighboring countries, which share approximately 6,000 kilometers of their borders with Colombia.


As in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. objective in Latin America is not the search to capture the heads of terrorist networks but a search for territorial predominance.  In this case The U.S. objective is its predominance over the Amazon basin. What is most alarming is that contrasts and opposition to this hegemonic tendency has been diluted and that the scope of the thematic agenda has merged into one sole issue: politics against terror and against drugs. Nobody can challenge this new paradigm even though one of its apparent results has been the improvement of worldwide narcotics trafficking.


Former US agendas in Latin America no longer hold and the U.S.'s Latin America agenda is now basically centered on terrorism and drugs and one-sided economic initiatives.  In a search to block European and Asian competition, US economic interests in Latin America are projected in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA in its Spanish acronym): keeping economic exchange in uneven terms for the countries in the region, seeking a monopoly for US exports investments; and control over the banking system. The implications for the region's states, societies and, in particular, rural areas, are to be felt: the bankruptcy of the industrial sector, the loss of food sovereignty and control over own resources, a specialization in raw (primary) goods, and the dollarization of these economies (as in the cases of Ecuador and Panama).


The Drug War in the Andes has reached a new stage in the 21st century. Local instruments are no longer a consideration nor discussed in sovereign terms. They have been made uniform under the banner of the United States without even being discussed in national congresses.  Multilateralism has also caved in and countries can no longer withdraw from Washington's coercive pressure over the region.


The main criticism against antinarcotics policies as projected in the Plan Colombia and the Counterdrug Initiative of May 2001 is that they are not policies designed for drug control but rather security and public order policies whose aim is reorganized the U.S. military structure in Latin America. If at one point indiscriminate fumigation policy could be criticized because of its scarce results and alarming environmental repercussions, it can now be understood as an instrument to attack guerrilla finances.


As refers to armed conflict in Colombia, the "democratic security" model is becoming extensive to the border areas, with the acceptance of Andean governments including Ecuador and Venezuela.  With reference to the nucleus of the armed conflict itself, apart from intensified fumigation we now see an intense struggle to control crops, routs, strategic corridors −mostly in the border zones− thus affecting mainly peasants, indigenous peoples, Afro Colombians, and displaced women and children.


Other factors affecting Colombia's armed conflict are the conditions which reign in neighboring countries: the political crisis in Venezuela and that of Argentina which has been stabilized; Peru's social crisis, weakened governance in Ecuador and Bolivia, and economic crises in the whole region. Recent conferences of heads of states or their representatives show the tendency towards an acceptance of the absolute internationalization of interdiction and judicial measures, without any consideration whatsoever to national jurisdictions.


There are certainly other options to the repressive stereotype and paradigm which is leading a spiral of militarization, criminalization and regionalization: To contrast and criticize communication media’s alarmist tabloid articles and news. To demand a halt to U.S. Armed Forces-supervised military training and maneuvers in the regions.  To establish dialogues with the Armed Forces and Police forces regarding the best way to handle security without violating human rights.  To involve national universities in an effort to follow-up on the Andean national borders' situation.  To do a follow up on the development of the importance attained by the issue of frontier zones in the Andean community of nations' agenda. To establish dialogue with U.S. Congress committees so as to approach the Andean borders' situation, propose legislation to promote these zones, and demand that democratic procedures be implemented by Foreign Affairs Ministries in their approach to border issues.



Translated from Spanish by MM Moreno,

Mama Coca


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