Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Free Trade Web Tangles

The push to get through a free trade agreement with Colombia fortunately was put aside by the Congress. Now it turns out that this partner that the maladministration keeps praising for its anti-drug cooperation with the U.S. is involved in outright murder of civilians. Those figures that were making the army look so effective appear to have been pumped up by random murders of innocents, to grow the body count.

Our friends need to be looked over very carefully by the incoming administration. War criminality in our White House has attracted and condoned really rotten officials in power elsewhere.

The head of Colombia's army abruptly resigned on Tuesday in a widening human-rights scandal in which the military allegedly killed civilians to inflate body counts in its decades-long conflict with guerrillas.

Gen. Mario Montoya is the highest-profile officer to lose his job amid an investigation that last week led President Álvaro Uribe to purge 20 army officers, including three generals.

Members of Colombia's army allegedly lured poor Bogotá residents to the countryside, murdered the men and disguised the corpses as those of guerrillas.

The scandal comes even though Colombia's military is riding a wave of public approval as a result of its success in beating back the 9,000-strong Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Latin America's oldest and largest insurgent army.

The results of the military's investigation have been turned over to civilian judicial authorities. Analysts say many questions remain about the affair and other accusations against the military of killing civilians.

The scandal could threaten the U.S.'s continuing support of Colombia's antinarcotics and counterinsurgency efforts, known as Plan Colombia. Since 2000, the U.S. has contributed more than $5 billion to help train and equip the country's armed forces and police in their efforts against the FARC and other violent groups. The FARC funds itself mostly through drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion, and is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union.

The scandal could also fuel U.S. congressional opposition to a proposed free trade agreement which has languished in Washington. Democrats have refused to act on the treaty until Colombia shows significant progress in human rights, in particular by cracking down on the murders of union leaders.

The banana republic nature of the right wing in Latin America, like that type of behavior in our own White House, has caused an upsurge in popular movements for obvious reasons. A long tradition that began with Spanish takeovers of native populations, to serve the European conquistadores and their interests, has not created an environment friendly to the abusive government that are the remnant of that piece of history.

Killing off the native populations worked for the dominant government in the U.S., but it left a bad taste in the mouth of the native populations elsewhere. It would be very nice to see the incoming administration adopt policies in Latin America that would help us to relate to the growing popular movements there.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger shrimplate said...

Fair trade, not free trade. These are unfortunately not synonymous.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

What the wingers want is 'fair and balanced' trade. like Faux News.

3:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home