The Guardian February 27, 2002

Stop all-out war in Colombia

The decision of the Colombian Government to unilaterally cancel peace 
negotiations with the largest guerrilla army FARC-EP, and to launch a 
surprise attack on the de-militarised zone has been strongly condemned by 
many organisations including the Communist Party of Canada (CPC).

The Party said in a statement that it was "a disaster for the Colombian 
people and for efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in that 
country". The CPC is calling for an immediate cease-fire and for a return 
to the negotiating table.

"President Pastrana has finally succumbed to pressures from the United 
States and the Colombian military to scrap the peace process and unleash an 
all-out war on the insurgents", CPC leader Miguel Figueroa stated.

"In so doing, Pastrana and the ruling oligarchy he represents have 
undermined the painstaking efforts of Canada and the other member countries 
of the 'Group of Ten', and of the United Nations. He has also dashed the 
hopes of the Colombian people for peace and a just settlement of the 
outstanding issues."

On February 20, the Colombian President cancelled negotiations with the 
FARC-EP and signed orders for an immediate military attack and re-
occupation of the demilitarised zone in the southern part of the country.

Hours later, the Colombian Air Force bombed San Vicente and other towns in 
the area and thousands of ground troops-along with US military "advisors"-
invaded the region in a blitzkrieg-type operation.

"It is clear who has masterminded this escalation in the conflict", 
Figueroa said.

"Since his inauguration, and especially since September 11, US President 
Bush and his Administration have expressed open hostility to the peace 
process. They have expanded the military aid component of the Plan Colombia 
(started under the Clinton administration), and tried to prevent any 
meaningful progress in the peace talks.

"The US Government, working hand-in-glove with the Colombian military and 
various corporate interests, almost succeeded in scuttling the negotiations 
in early January, but the intervention of the UN, the Vatican, and the 
'Group of Ten' countries (including Canada) temporarily kept the peace 
process alive."

"The biggest losers in an all-out war will be the Colombian people 
themselves", said the Communist Party statement. "There is now the real 
possibility that US imperialism will directly intervene in the war and even 
expand the conflict to other countries in the region, especially to 
Venezuela where Washington hopes to remove the nationalist and progressive 
government of Hugo Chavez.

"The war in Colombia is not an isolated or internal problem. It comes at a 
time when the US-led war in Afghanistan is continuing, when Israeli 
military attacks against the Palestinian people are escalating, when the 
Bush Administration is sending ground troops into the Philippines, and 
threatening war against Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

"This so-called 'war on terrorism' is actually a war on people's resistance 
to globalisation, a war on the sovereignty and independence of nations, and 
a war on peace and the principles of international law. It must be stopped 
now before war and militarism envelop the entire globe", said Miguel 


In an interview with The Week Online Noam Chomsky said, "Colombia 
has had the worst human rights record in the hemisphere while it has been 
the leading recipient of US arms and training. [It] now ranks behind only 
Israel and Egypt worldwide.

"In Colombia, as elsewhere, human rights violations tend to increase as the 
state tries to violently repress opposition to inequality, oppression, 
corruption and other state crimes for which there is no political outlet. 
The state turns to terror ...", said Chomsky.

"Counter-insurgency has been going on there [in Colombia] for 40 years; 
President Kennedy sent a special forces mission to Colombia in the early 
1960s. Their proposal to the Colombian Government was recently 
declassified, and it called for 'paramilitary terror'  those are their 
words  against what it called known communist proponents.

"In Colombia, that meant labor leaders, priests, human rights activists, 
and so on. In the last 15 years, as the US has become more deeply involved, 
human rights violations are up considerably", said Noam Chomsky.

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