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US issues arrest warrants for FARC

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

20 March 2006

The US is once again set to use the so called war on drugs as an excuse for direct US intervention in Colombia.

The US Government has adopted a new pretence to justify its presence in Colombia and even direct action in the country by US personnel. Once again the so called war on drugs, a euphemism used by the US to justify interventions in Colombia, Panama, Turkey and other countries throughout the 20th Century, is to be used.

The US have redefined the FARC as a drugs cartel and issued 50 arrest warrants for the entire Secretariat of the FARC and a further 17 members of the High Command. The arrest warrants are accompanied by the offer of 5 million dollars for each member of the Secretariat and 2.5 million for the High Command leaders. A similar strategy has been in place for some time in Colombia where it has failed miserably. It has not resulted in a single arrest.

The US has used the pretext of drugs to intervene in Colombia long before Clinton launched his military Plan Colombia. However, the US State Dept has always refrained from saying the FARC were drug traffickers, correctly describing the FARC’s role as that of a tax collector on the production of the leaf, and the final product. However, politics and reality are not the same thing. Madeleine Albright, Clintons’ sidekick famously declared that she had a video which showed the FARC exchanging arms for drugs in the middle of the Carribean. The video like the video of the Colombia Three, training the FARC, never materialised because it simply never existed. Both videos were quickly forgotten.

Amid much media publicity, the Colombian Government announced that the FARC’s key man in Mexico in charge of drug trafficking had been arrested. He suffered a similar fate to the videos, he was forgotten about. There does seem to be some evidence that the FARC in recent years have gone beyond the role of tax collector, but it is anecdotal and doesn’t amount to accusing them of being the major drug traffickers in Colombia. Outlandish claims have been made by Jessica Tandy the director of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) that the FARC are responsible for 50% of the Cocaine produced in the world and 60% of that which enters the US. This figure would mean that they are producing over 400 tonnes a year. A quick look at the figures and one can see that they don’t add up. They claim the FARC have exported 25,000 million dollars worth in 10 years, which if we accept UN figures (and the US do) would mean that were responsible for 50% of the value of the entire illegal drugs trade in the world including, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, hash, prescription drugs sold illegally etc from Colombia to Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond. And lets not forget that the Netherlands accounts for most ecstasy production even with the shift to Indonesia in recent years, where the FARC are not known to have guerrilla columns. The claim and the figures are inventions.

The paramilitaries have been forgotten about, despite the fact that US State Dept described them as drug traffickers when it talked of the FARC being tax collectors. So too have the numerous US personnel which have been arrested smuggling drugs or exchanging weapons for drugs with the paramilitaries. The President of Colombia who has been described in US intelligence reports has having links with drug traffickers has also been forgotten (though it is hard to forget that Uribe’s father’s helicopter was found in the largest drug laboratory ever found).

The drug cartel charge is a smokescreen. But why make the charge now? The answer is simple. Bush has made no secret of his desire to free up US money and hardware donated in the “war on drugs” for use in general counter insurgency operations. In practice this has occurred on many occasions, but they need a freer hand. Now that the FARC has been redefined as a drugs cartel Bush can have that freer hand. The US Attorney General has not ruled out operations of the type which led to the killing of Pablo Escobar. In other words it has not ruled out direct military intervention to take out the Secretariat.

Plan Colombia is now considered to have failed having invested more than 4000 million dollars and having sprayed hundreds of thousands of hectares of land under coca and land with food crops. Plan Patriota which was designed to defeat the FARC militarily has also failed. Now we have a new plan which gives the US greater leverage over any future government. If the FARC are a drug cartel the US will block any negotiation with the them that is not favourable to their interests using the excuse of their alleged role as a cartel and they can now carry out strikes anywhere (including any demilitarised zones that are created for negotiations) on the pretext of the war on drugs.

The reality that is the largest beneficiaries of the drugs trade are the western companies that supply the raw materials for the manufacture of cocaine. To give the idea an idea, some of the essential ingredients are sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, acetate and potassium permangate to mention a few. All of these ingredients are supplied by US and German companies, none of which will ever be declared to be a cartel, as it is not in US interests to do so.

Once again the Colombian people are to be subjected to increased US interference in the name of a war on drugs. Tis little the Bush regime care about the victims of the drugs trade.


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