Columbia is a close US ally in South America. George Bush recently met Columbia’s President Uribe at the White House and stressed the close relationship between the two countries. The fact that Uribe runs a brutal and corrupt regime matters little to Washington. After all, Uribe is an obedient little follower, as opposed to the vast majority of Latin American leaders.
This development is therefore significant:
The U.S. State Department has developed the secret formula to dismantle the armed groups of Colombia’s war. Or so it believes. It is believed that the demobilization of 28,000 members of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) was the result of threatening its leaders – notably Salvadore Mancuso and Don Berna – with extradition to the US.
Fear of extradition, accompanied by promises of amnesty, convinced large numbers of paramilitaries to lay down their arms, confess their crimes, and put their faith in the government to restore order in Colombia.
Now, the same strategy is being tried on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), an insurgency born in Colombia’s civil conflict (“La Violencia”) and greatly influenced by the Cuban revolution. The FARC has grown over the decades, despite concerted efforts by the Colombian and US governments to destroy it, including the use of death squads, forced displacement of its supporters, and the most modern technologies of surveillance and counter-terrorism.
The US plan will fail, of course. The FARC has existed for decades in Columbia and receives large public support. Human rights abuses have occurred on both sides, but the Columbian government’s supposed “war on drugs” has created far more enemies than friends.