Friday 24 September 2021

Controversy in Colombia over the arrival of the US military

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The arrival of US troops in Colombia has always caused controversy in the country and this time is no exception. According to the newspaper ‘El Tiempo’, on June 1 a mission of 53 military personnel who make up a Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) arrived in the country to support “anti-drug trafficking” efforts that they will “mainly focus” on the “Future Zones”.

File photo of Colombian and US troops conducting joint military exercises in Tolemaida, Colombia, on January 26, 2020. © AFP

These “Future Zones” were established this year by the Iván Duque Government to “improve security in the territories and change illicit economies for licit economies” and comprise five regions of the country, (equivalent to 2.4% of Colombian territory): the Pacific of Nariño, Catatumbo, Bajo Cauca and southern Córdoba, Arauca, Chiribiquete and nearby National Natural Parks.

Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo assured that this brigade, which is part of the Southern Command, will only perform tasks “of a consultative and technical nature to improve effectiveness in the fight against drug trafficking and that they will not” participate in military operations,” according to the newspaper ‘El Espectador’.

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But while both the Embassy and the Defense ministry point to the fight against drugs, ‘El Espectador’ points out that “all roads lead to Venezuela. That is the easiest way to explain this recent decision,” which raised a strong shock. of opinions between the opposition and the ruling party.

The FARC party is in that line and that is why it assured that it is “a plan to destabilize the peace of the continent” and links the arrival of the SFAB with a supposed military plan by the US President, Donald Trump, against Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. .

Clash between opposition and officialism in the Colombian Congress

The opposition not only demanded from the Government of President Iván Duque that the announcement of this mission come from the Embassy, but that it bypassed the authorization of Congress for the entry of these troops and demanded an explanation from the Executive.

But the governing party, the Democratic Center, has defended that the Legislative did not need permission for this mission.

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Meanwhile, senator and former president Álvaro Uribe defended on Twitter that “there are 53 soldiers who come from advisers, without weapons, they are not a combat force, they come to help, to conceive how the anti-drug policy in Colombia is improved.”

But according to Senator Iván Cepeda, a member of the Second Committee of Congress, which deals among other things with international politics and national defense, the arrival of the SFAB military “increases the danger in the region of an armed confrontation” and “it is an interference that violates the Constitution and national sovereignty.”

The record of scandals of North American officials in Colombia

To go to the most recent, you only have to go back three years. In 2017, as the magazine ‘Semana’ collected, a group of marines was involved in a scandal with prostitutes in Bogotá.

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Another of the thorniest chapters took place in 2015, when a report by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General -OIG- was released, which claimed that DEA agents in Colombia “had participated in noisy parties with prostitutes paid by drug traffickers, in apartments contracted by the US government for the use of its agents, “this magazine reported.

A journalistic investigation by the same magazine also revealed that in 2001 the company DynCorp, a contractor for the United States government, had 1,000 American war professionals in Colombia “violating the ceiling that established a maximum of 800 people between the military and civilians.” This company was mainly engaged in aerial spraying of illicit crops in Colombia.

But according to Senator Iván Cepeda, a member of the Second Committee of Congress, which deals among other things with international politics and national defense, the arrival of the SFAB military “increases the danger in the region of an armed confrontation” and “it is an interference that violates the Constitution and national sovereignty.”

The record of scandals of North American officials in Colombia

To go to the most recent, you only have to go back three years. In 2017, as the magazine ‘Semana’ collected, a group of marines was involved in a scandal with prostitutes in Bogotá.

Another of the thorniest chapters took place in 2015, when a report by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General -OIG- was released, which claimed that DEA agents in Colombia “had participated in noisy parties with prostitutes paid by drug traffickers, in apartments contracted by the US government for the use of its agents, “this magazine reported.

A journalistic investigation by the same magazine also revealed that in 2001 the company DynCorp, a contractor for the United States government, had 1,000 American war professionals in Colombia “violating the ceiling that established a maximum of 800 people between the military and civilians.” This company was mainly engaged in aerial spraying of illicit crops in Colombia.

Article originally appeared on Q Colombia and is republished here with permission.

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Article originally appeared on Q Colombia and is republished here with permission.

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