U.S. Escalates Counter-Insurgency War in Colombia

During the last week of June, the U.S. Congress approved $1.3 billion in military aid for Colombia.

The legislation authorizes the Pentagon to dispatch 500 U.S. military "advisers" to Colombia and train three more "elite," counter-insurgency Colombian battalions. The U.S. will equip these units with 18 Blackhawk and 42 Huey helicopters (the notorious antipersonnel gunships used in Vietnam and El Salvador).

This aid is part of a three-year $7.5 billion package of international funding for "Plan Colombia" -- a strategy drawn up by the Pentagon to suppress the popular insurgency which in the hopes of stabilizing the current Colombian regime.

While Clinton administration officials like to pretend that this military aid is part of a "war on drugs," everyone knows that the U.S. government is really at war against the Colombian people. During the recent Congressional hearings, Senator Coverdell, for example, stated: "A decade ago the United States went to war with a powerful enemy partly to stabilize a major oil-producing region....The destabilization of Colombia directly affects bordering Venezuela, now generally regarded as our largest oil supplier. In fact, the oil picture in Latin America is strikingly similar to that of the Middle East, except that Colombia provides us more oil today than Kuwait did then." Similarly General McCaffrey, Clinton's "drug czar," has repeatedly admitted that the target of "Plan Colombia" is the guerrilla insurgency led by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which currently controls 40% of the country.

Government officials and political commentators speculate openly about the U.S. going down the "slippery slope" of escalating intervention in Colombia just has it has repeatedly done in El Salvador, Vietnam, and elsewhere. In fact, Clinton administration officials have already drawn scenarios for full-scale invasion of Colombia in order to protect "U.S. economic and strategic interest."

It is precisely the "economic and strategic interests" of U.S. imperialism -- of the capitalist class -- which puts it in opposition to the interests of the Colombian people.

Today, the Colombian working class, the peasantry, the indigenous peoples, the urban poor, etc. are actively coming out in opposition to the neo-liberal economic program being imposed on the country by the U.S. and international bankers. Repeated nationwide strikes and political struggles have been organized to stop the privatization and foreign take-over of Colombia's economy and demand increase. expenditures on social programs.

In addition, for decades Colombian peasants have been fighting for their rights to land and a livelihood in opposition to the landed oligarchy. And again, this oligarchy is linked by 1001 threads to U.S. monopolies which have turned Colombian agriculture into a cash-crop export economy and today are further drooling at the prospect of grabbing Colombia's newly discovered oil wealth.

The $1.3 billion in military aid and the escalating U.S. intervention in Colombia is directed squarely against these popular movements -- against the struggles of the working class, the peasants and other impoverished and oppressed people of Colombia for national liberation and social progress.

Already untold atrocities are being committed against the Colombian people and U.S. imperialism is preparing to escalate this war in the coming period. It is the duty of the American working class and people to fight against this war.

U.S. Imperialism, Hands Off Colombia!