The US is Supporting Egregious Human Rights Abuses
American Shame in Colombia
by DAN KOVALIK January 25, 2012 Counterpunch
As Noam Chomsky has often cautioned, when considering foreign relations, and especially military intervention, states should always heed the primary Hippocratic oath – “First, do no harm.” The U.S. has certainly disregarded this admonition with reckless abandon in Latin America, and Colombia is the foremost example of this, at least at the present time. Human Rights Watch appears to concur with this judgment.
Thus, Human Rights Watch (HRW) just released its annual human rights report on Colombia, and it is not pretty. The punch line of the report is most damning of the United States and its role in that country’s abysmal practices – undoubtedly, the very worst of this hemisphere.
As HRW concludes, after its litany of atrocities being committed by the Colombian state and its paramilitary (death squad) allies,
The U.S. remains the most influential foreign actor in Colombia. In 2011 it provided approximately US $562 million in aid, about 61 percent of which was military and police aid. Thirty percent of US military aid is subject to human rights conditions, which the US Department of State has not enforced. In September 2011 the State Department certified that Colombia was meeting human rights conditions.
HRW explains in detail that the human rights violations the U.S. is aiding and abetting in Colombia are indeed the worst imaginable. As HRW explains, in Colombia
paramilitary successor groups continue to grow, maintain extensive ties with public security force members and local officials, and commit widespread atrocities. There has also been ongoing violence against rights defenders, community leaders, and trade unionists.
According to the HRW report, the paramilitary death squads, whose power flows from “[t]oleration of the groups by public security forces,” actively “engage in drug trafficking; actively recruit members, including children; and commit widespread abuses against civilians, including massacres, killings, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, threats and forced displacement.”
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HRW notes that, “[i]n January 2011 Colombia’s national police chief publicly stated that such groups are the largest source of violence in Colombia.” This is a significant admission because the U.S., to justify its continued military support for Colombia, would have the public believe that it is the left-wing guerillas who are most responsible for the violence in Colombia. In fact, this is not true. Rather, it is the paramilitary death squads who bear this responsibility, and it is these death squads, allied as they are with the official Colombian security forces, which are being supported by the military aid the U.S. is sending to that country.
Moreover, while the U.S. attempts with a straight face to portray Colombia as a “democracy,” contrasting this with countries such as Cuba or Venezuela which the U.S claims lack democratic values, the recent HRW report makes it clear that Colombia is not recognizable as a democracy in any real sense. Thus, HRW explains that
Candidates campaigning for the nationwide and local elections in October 2011 were also frequently killed amid reports of alleged links between candidates and armed groups. According to the Colombian NGO Mision de Observacion Electoral, 40 candidates were killed in 2011, representing a 48 percent increase in such crimes reported during the 2007 local elections.