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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With the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan struggling on the battlefield against a resilient insurgency and opium poppy cultivation on the rise, Navy admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently suggested that the United States should import the counterinsurgency and counternarcotics model currently being employed in Colombia to Afghanistan. “I think many of us from all over the world can learn from what has happened with respect to the very successful developments of Plan Colombia,” Mullen stated, adding that the counterinsurgency approach used in Colombia would be applicable to Afghanistan. Continue reading
A visit to the coca growing regions of southern Colombia clearly illustrates that more than coca is being eradicated by the U.S.-sponsored aerial fumigation. While the spraying has eradicated thousands of acres of coca over the past one and a half years, it has also destroyed the food crops and livelihood of impoverished Colombian farmers in the targeted regions. Recent attempts to more accurately direct the aerial attacks against illicit crops have also failed to protect food crops. And as both the fumigation campaign and the civil conflict intensify, there is evidence of collusion between the Colombian army’s U.S.-trained counternarcotics brigade and paramilitary death squads that are on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.