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The Left is finally rising in Colombia

Last week’s election in Colombia saw the best result for the Left in decades and confirmed Gustavo Petro as favorite to become the country’s first socialist president. It’s a major shift in a country that has long been dominated by US-backed right-wing leaders.
 
by Carlos Cruz Mosquera  

Part 2 - Colombia and the West

The West has a historical interest in Colombia, both for trade and for its regional geopolitical importance. Indebted due to financial backing during the independence struggle, Colombia’s sprouting elites were pushed into unequal trading and political relations with the UK and the United States. The situation was so dire that the independence leader Simón Bolívar complained once that this relationship had engendered a “chaos of horrors, calamities, and crimes . . . and Colombia is a victim whose entrails these vultures are tearing to shreds.

Two hundred years on, his words still hold. Much of the country’s yearly GDP continues to be siphoned off to pay historical debts to the West, and the economy continues to serve the interests of a few, but particularly Western capitalists. And although Colombia is widely understood to be economically exploited and politically subdued by US government and business interests, Europe also has its fingers in the pie: the UK has more than one hundred multinational corporations in the country, among them none other than BP, which signed a multimillion-pound deal with Colombia’s ministry of defence to help protect its business interests.

The UK government itself has spent tens of millions in support of the country’s military and police forces, despite decades of human rights violations. When Colombia’s police and right-wing assassins worked together to kill and repress young protesters, it was exposed that the UK’s military and police forces had offered them training and support. Moreover, although the EU has long purported to support a peaceful solution to the violent conflict, its member states continue to provide funding and training to the violent Colombian state. Spain, like the UK, has ignored the nation’s dire human rights record and continues to fuel the nation’s internal war on the side of the state by providing them with modern military equipment, particularly aircraft.

In 2017, the conflict-ridden nation became NATO’s first Latin American partner. This move was justified on the basis of security cooperation. More recently, to ward off supposed Chinese and Russian influence, right-wing US congressmen Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez proposed further consolidated military cooperation with Latin America. Weeks later, Colombia signed the US-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act, one of the main aims of which was the provision of “additional benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation.

Colombia’s elites and their Western allies are rightly wary of the Pacto Historico in this sense. Its pro-peace, anti-militarism stance threatens their interests, and not just in Colombia but throughout the region.

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