U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently compared Mexico’s drug violence to that experienced in Colombia twenty years ago and claimed that drug trafficking networks were “morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America.” President Barack Obama and Mexican government officials were quick to correct her, claiming that the contemporary Mexican reality does not reflect that of Colombia in the late 1980s. What they failed to correct, however, was her misinterpretation, or conscious revision, of Colombia’s history in order to justify an increased U.S. military role in Mexico and Central America.
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The proponents of Plan Colombia claim its successful implementation will end Colombia’s civil war, revive the nation’s economy and put the narco-traffickers out of business. In order to implement the $7.5 billion Plan, conceived by the Colombian and U.S. governments, Colombia is asking for $3.5 billion in international aid to supplement $4 billion of its own funding. However, it is still unclear just how the financially-strapped Colombian Government is going to raise $4 billion.
Elite U.S.-trained counter-insurgency units are routinely carried by U.S. helicopters to remote parts of this Latin American country to confront Marxist guerrillas. Supplied with U.S. intelligence and directed by U.S. military advisors, these counter-insurgency troops work hand in hand with right-wing paramilitary death squads as they terrorize the local peasant population. Back in Washington, a battle is being waged in Congress over the increasing U.S. involvement in the conflict and the issuance of U.S. aid to a Latin American military notorious for its human rights abuses. This is a description of El Salvador in the 1980s, right? Wrong! It is the year 2000 and the country is Colombia.