Colombia: Petro and Márquez Continue to Buy Weapons
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
06 January 2023
The Barak MX air defense system.
For the moment, and only for the moment the purchase of warplanes with which Petro and Márquez hoped to cuddle up to the military, leaving aside the basic needs of the Colombians has collapsed.
But Petro and Márquez have not given up the ghost. So, they bought the Barak MX air defence system.(1) It is a system for defence against aerial and missile attacks. We don’t know who the enemies that the country has are, nor who they hope to use this system against, but they bought it. To cap it all, they manufacturer is Israel, as if the country hadn’t had enough of the Zionist state’s interference. It is worth remembering that it was Israeli mercenaries at the request of the then Colombian government who trained paramilitary groups in the Magdalena Medio region in the 1980s.
Though really, if you wanted to buy death, there are no angels in the market. The main suppliers of weapons to Colombia are the USA and the European Union, i.e. the butchers of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other recent wars.
Colombia’s military expenditure is significant, accounting for around 3.4% of GDP in 2021, i.e. 10.006 million dollars (constant prices of 2020).(2) We have to go back as far as 1995 to find a year in which military expenditure was less than 3% of GDP, though in that year it represented 14.8% of the national budget. It was almost always above 10% of the total budget.
Israeli sales to Colombia are not new. All governments have bought arms from Israel, except Duque’s. The purchase by Petro and Márquez is another sign that they have no intention of breaking with the past, with the military or any sector the bourgeoisie. A progressive government would not buy an air defence system to protect against an imaginary enemy. The country needs more pencils, stethoscopes and less missiles. But Petro and Márquez are determined to please the military.
In all their press conferences the military turn up, Petro and Márquez have not broken with that practice, more suited to a military dictatorship, that not even the Biden government does. The military pose as statues or caricatures of The Simpsons in press conferences, regardless of the topic, but Petro and Márquez want them by their side. They talk a lot about total peace, and a change, but a civil government feels the need to put the military besides them at every turn and never misses a chance to waste the health and education budget etc. on weapons. Pacification, more to the point.
(1) José Higuera (05/01/2023) Colombia buys Israeli -made Barak MX air defence system https://www.defensenews.com/land/2023/01/05/colombia-buys-israeli-made-barak-mx-air-defense-system/
(2) All figures taken from https://www.sipri.org