As First Published in the August, 1999
Forget the Military and the Rebels
Term is "Cartel"
War Clouds Over Colombia
Penetrating the Fog
by Michael C. Ruppert
To quote London based
world affairs columnist Jonathan Power in his August
28th piece for the Miami Herald, "... Bill Clinton,
last month that vital American interests are at stake in Colombia and
that it is 'very much in our national security interests
to do what we can', [to end the rebel uprising which now
controls a third of the country].
"When the U.S.
President uses these
code words, it essentially means that the backbone of the U.S.
military, intelligence and national security bodies has
decided that the United States is
prepared to go to any lengths -- even war -- to deal
with the problem."
Just what IS the problem?
Here's a little background. It would really
help if you pulled out a map first.
is the third most populous country in all of Latin
America. It is almost directly due South of
New York City. It has the sole land border of South
America with Panama
(hence North America). If you draw
a line from Bogota,
the capital, northwards to New York
you will see that it passes through a mid point (convenient
for refueling and cargo sorting) which can be roughly defined
as the Bahamas
and The Dominican Republic/Haiti. Carlos Lehder, co-founder
of the Medellin Cartel, released from prison by the Clinton
Administration, now resides in the Bahamas.
Coincidentally, his role in the Medellin
cartel was the organization of transshipment and smuggling
operations. Now more than a third of all cocaine entering
the U.S. and an increasing amount of heroin is passing through
the Dominican Republic and U.S. distribution of those drugs
is controlled by Dominican gangs along the Eastern seaboard,
especially in New York, where Hillary Rodham Clinton is
running for the Senate.
As opposed to the 1980s when Colombia
was more of a refinement center for coca paste originating
has now become, by far, the single largest grower of illegal
drugs in the world. The CIA recently reported that the coca
crop in Colombia has increased in size by 28 per cent this
year alone while the size of the opium poppy crop under
cultivation is increasing rapidly. According to the DEA,
the only reason why Colombian heroin is not dominant in
market is because there is not enough of it to go around.
I guess the cartels are addressing that shortcoming all
Colombia is now
one of several Latin American
countries, including its neighbor Equador, where the economy
is in total free fall. One third of the country, coincidentally
in the drug growing regions, is controlled by leftist rebels
groups. The largest of these, FARC, holds an area roughly
the size of Switzerland.á As reported by columnist Alexander
Cockburn and sourced from the Committee for the Defense
of Human Rights, there were 3.832 political murders committed
in Colombia last year. Colombian military and right wing
paramilitary death squads, connected to the military committed
almost all of those. Torture is rampant as increasingly
repressive and frantic efforts by the U.S. backed military
fail to stop populist support for rebels who offer things
like food, health care, shelter and work.
After Israel and
Egypt, Colombia is the
third largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world, currently
receiving $289 million per year.á Gen. Barry McCaffrey,
the drug Czar, is asking to double that, in the guise of
anti-drug efforts. The history of U.S. anti-drug aid in
Latin America, as documented regarding Chiapas in previous
issues of FTW, has primarily been one where "anti-drug" training,
advisers and equipment get used to kill civilians
opposing military dictatorships instead. There are currently
more than 350 U.S. military advisers in Colombia and the
number is growing rapidly. This number does not include
an uncounted number of CIA and DEA agents. Oliver North
and key Republicans are calling for a rapid increase in
neighbor to the east,
and one of the largest oil producing countries in the world,
has denied the United States overflight privileges for
military and "anti-drug" flights. This is hugely
significant because in the event of U.S. military intervention
U.S. planes and military personnel would be staged
in Puerto Rico. The direct
line flight from Puerto Rico into Colombia passes right
Conservatively, the amount of drug money
laundered through the U.S. economy, banking system and Wall
Street as a result of Colombian controlled operations is
more than $50 billion a year. Last month, as reported by
Catherine Austin Fitts, Richard Grasso, chief of the N.Y.
Stock Exchange, made a cold call on the FARC leadership
in the Colombian mountains seeking to guarantee drug cash
flow into U.S. the markets as the rebels grew in strength.
Building a Map from the Data
In every news report
about the "disintegration"
of Colombia we see the following phrases: "The Colombian
military, reportedly allied with the cartels," "The
Colombian rebels, reportedly allied with the cartels,"
and, "The right-wing Colombian death squads, reportedly
aligned with the cartels."
the common denominator
here? OK, you're right. It's the cartels.
Another question: "If
the nation of
Colombia is disintegrating so quickly, and is so close
complete anarchy after years of bad government, blah, blah,
blah, then why have the cartels been systematically able
to increase production and their share of the U.S. and
drug markets without so much as a hiccup?á
The plain truth of the matter is that if
we go to war in Colombia it is because the drug cartels
of that country have become economically powerful enough
to threaten U.S. hegemony and colonial-style exploitation
of the Western Hemisphere. And the saddest part is that
our elites have become so corrupted by drug money and drug
politics, they are so far out of the loop of the real world,
that they have let our political campaigns, our economy,
and our military decisions become dependent upon who has
access to how much drug money. It is that simple.
Is there a historical parallel? You bet
there is. In the seventies the only time we ever heard the
word cartel was as it referred to oil. Then, that was the
commodity that could threaten, our standard of living, our
economy, or the control of the dysfunctional corporate elites
on Wall Street.
There is an economic alternative to all
this madness which is infinitely more profitable than the
old model. And that is why I am so grateful to have Catherine
Austin Fitts as FTW's Contributing Editor.