After FARC disarmament, Colombia is delivered entirely to paramilitary branches of ruthless corporations
A year ago, the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the country's left-wing FARC rebels announced a final peace accord in Havana.
According to the final text of the peace agreement, the FARC will be guaranteed five seats in both Colombia’s lower house of Congress and the Senate in the next two election cycles in 2018 and 2022. The movement will still run in the elections as part of the process of securing those seats. Only if the FARC’s new political party falls short of winning the five seats would the remainder of guaranteed representatives be assigned.
Yet, a year later, the situation in Colombia doesn't look pretty. In fact, it seems that the void left by FARC has been occupied by new paramilitaries on behalf of big corporations. Atrocities, assassinations and human rights violations continue against anyone who dares to question the corporate authority.
Bladimir Sanchez Espitia talked to Oscar Leon and The Real News about his experience on current situation in Colombia.
Here are some key points:
I go around Colombia covering and documenting cases related to Human Right abuses, especially those dealing with transnational corporations. It's all related with the [big] oil & mining Locomotor.
Despite the Peace Process and the decreasing numbers of victims on the military and guerrilla sides; the killing of social leaders, trade union activists and human rights defenders continues, so my focus is to tell these stories and make the world know.
Of course the threats I have received are related with my research and [often critical] journalistic work. Focused as I am on defending human rights. And that ...maybe, will end up making me a victim, of this conflict on which economic, land owning rights and political interests collide. Yet, we continue to do journalism trying to defend human rights. So we suspect that because of that work I do, the death threat was originated. There are many leads, according to our findings the threats come from the paramilitary or could it be law enforcement too, as in police or the army.
Not long ago we produced a documentary, a meticulous investigation piece, produced with a couple of NGOs, (Cospad and one from UK) and in conjunction with a fellow journalist from UK. We proved with serious and blunt evidence the way that transnational corporations financed paramilitarism in Casanare Province and many of their commanding officers were active military many paramilitary have military IDs.
The President and the Minister of Defense, have many times said to the media that 'paramilitarism does not exist [in Colombia]', that it is 'a paper lie' or regular 'informal crime'. Many investigative reporters, NGOs, lawyers collective's and international organizations, had carefully looked into the issue and concluded that the existence of paramilitarism is evident. This is very concerning and dangerous for peace, so far 7 former FARC combatants and their families have being murdered.
To do journalism in Colombia is hard really hard, it has a cost human and political, to talk about human rights, and investigate the issue independently is even harder. And to investigate human right abuses independently is extremely difficult when social leaders are persecuted and killed and human right defenders are assassinated, when trade union leaders are murdered as well.
Note that early this year, in Catatumbo, campesino organizations have blocked the demobilization of FARC units in Caño Indio, arguing that they would be left unprotected.
Recall that, ten years ago, Chiquita Brands International became the first U.S.-based corporation convicted of violating a U.S. law against funding an international terrorist group—the paramilitary United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). But punishment for the crime was reserved only for the corporate entity, while the names of the individual company officials who engineered the payments have since remained hidden behind a wall of impunity.
Oscar Leon also referred to some unimaginable atrocities conducted by these paramilitary groups that seek to fill the gap left by FARC:
On June 8th, 2017 Telesur reported that just this year, there were already 57 social activists assassinated of the paramilitary in Colombia.
BBC reported that since 1977 to 2013, around 3000 trade union organizers have been murdered, making Colombia the most dangerous place to organize. Like Bernardo Cuero murdered in January 2017 after the state denied him protection despite severe threats made to him, or William Oime, an indigenous governor of a rainforest reserve who opposed a mining project in the jungle, or Sharon Dayana Marmol the 14 year old daughter of a community leader, murdered to teach his dad a lesson.
The list keeps growing by the day. These are just a few examples of a broader pattern of terror used to control dissent and submit populations.
According to a 2014 report by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the BACRIM are the main groups responsible for the great majority of Human Rights violations in modern colombia, in many cases lead and operated by former AUC paramilitary leaders who gravitate around the drug business.
The daily Newspaper El Tiempo reports that since 2012, there is a total 332,000 victims, counting extortion, rape, kidnapping, torture and land theft; 8,194 assassinations and 560 disappeared, who are likely to have been murdered as well.
Have you heard anything about these crimes in Colombia from the hypocrites of the US government? No, they are just 'concerned' about the 'dictator' Maduro and human rights violations in the neighbouring Venezuela.
Well, their huge hypocrisy can be easily explained.
Now that they got rid of the armed-FARC 'headache', the US corporations are ready to loot freely Colombia with the aid of the new paramilitaries. Furthermore, they can focus entirely on their economic war against Venezuela through Colombia, as explained by Venezuela's Minister of Economic Planning, Ricardo Menéndez.
Colombia has now definitely fallen to the hands of the US imperialist hawks. Next target: Venezuela.