| Colombia 2021The Year in which State Terrorism Became Visible | MR Online

Colombia 2021: The year in which State terrorism became visible

Originally published: Internationalist 360° on January 2, 2022 by Renán Vega Cantor - La Pluma (more by Internationalist 360°) (Posted Jan 05, 2022)

The State and the ruling classes of Colombia, which constitute the counterinsurgent power bloc, have made use of a series of fallacies to hide the terrorist nature of the State in this country, consolidated as such for decades. The first of these fallacies, repeated ad nauseam, is that Colombia is a democratic society with a social rule of law, which, moreover, is ratified by the 1991 Constitution. In the same direction, it is affirmed that Colombian democracy is stable, of long standing, and has not suffered the anti-democratic onslaught of “populism” (read left-wing). It is argued that in this country there is a separation of powers, freedom of the press, respect for individual liberties, all made possible by the unrestricted preservation of private property.

Secondly, it is pointed out that the military forces have been respectful of the constitutional order and have faced multiple wars from which they have emerged victorious. This fallacy has gained strength in the last five years as a result of the signing of the agreement between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC. Added to this is the fact that these armed forces are neat and, as an institution, are formed by martyrs who sacrifice their lives to preserve the assets of Colombians and, at most, there have been a few bad apples within them who have gone astray and committed crimes or have allied with paramilitaries and murderers, but these are isolated and individual actions that do not compromise the military entity, which has always respected human rights. Even the members of these military forces, in an official campaign that circulates throughout the country, it is said that “heroes do exist” and that they are the ones.

These fallacies, among many others, have been the Colombian State’s letter of introduction to the rest of the world and have been effective, because at the international level they were assumed to be true. And we speak in the past, because if the events of this year 2021 that is ending have had any importance, it is that this year State terrorism in the Colombian style became visible to the world.

One thing is that it has become visible and another thing is that it did not exist. State terrorism did not appear suddenly in this 2021, since it has been a recurrent practice in the last 75 years, as we have endured it directly or indirectly in multiple ways (assassinations, disappearances, tortures, bombings, expulsion of population, conversion of social, ethnic and political sectors into internal enemies, open and disguised anticommunism, judicial persecution, media lynching by the great powers of disinformation, exile…. ), but this never gained prominence in the eyes of the majority of Colombian society and, much less, was it seen outside the country. Some of these terrorist practices have not only been legitimized by sectors of Colombian society (the “well-to-do Colombians”), its intellectuals, its paid journalists, but the denunciations made about this State terrorism were limited to certain activists and political militants, inside and outside the country.

On certain occasions in recent years, some of these terrorist practices (assassination of trade unionists, “false positives”–a name created on purpose to conceal the magnitude of State assassinations) were denounced and some knowledge of them has been acquired among sectors of public opinion in Europe. But these genocidal practices have not always been analyzed as the manifestation of State terrorism, considered in a structural way and inscribed in a set of counterinsurgency doctrines and practices, which are permanent, systematic, proper to the logic of the doctrine of national security, anticommunism and the internal enemy, forged in the United States and fully assumed by the counterinsurgent power bloc in Colombia.

State terrorism in this country has been so “successful” that it has become an export service, because the Colombian police and army train (i.e., teach their expertise in terrorist practices under cover of security rhetoric) to more than fifteen states in the world. Also another variable that indicates the “recognized success” of these terrorist practices is the exportation of mercenaries (civilian and military) to different parts of the world, something that also became visible in this 2021 with the assassination of the president of Haiti, a topic we discussed below.

What has happened in this 2021 cracks the erected fallacies and has laid bare the terrorist character of the Colombian State, as shown by two events that we briefly examine: the national strike and the assassination of the president of Haiti.

The national strike

The year 2021 was the year of the extraordinary national strike, the most important social protest in Colombian history in terms of duration, geographical extension and the diversity of social sectors that participated. This strike broke out for reasons of long, medium and short duration. In the immediate term, it was the result of the accumulation of grievances during 2020, due to the confinement, the repression of the regime of subpresident Iván Duque and because the handling of the pandemic showed the dimension of the inequality and injustice existing in the country. As a repressive factor, the immediate antecedent was the massacre of September 9 and 10, 2020 in the streets of Bogota and Soacha, when the police massacred 13 people, among them a Venezuelan citizen. That protest was brutally shut down, with the legitimization provided by the sub president who disguised himself as a policeman and showed up at one of the CAI (Centro de Atención [Asesinato] Inmediato) that had been attacked by the angry crowd.

In the medium term, the strike is part of a broad cycle of protests that is part of what has taken place in the country in the last ten years, and in which various social sectors have participated, although with particular mobilizations in most cases. Within these protests, the mobilization of students (La Mane in 2011, 2017 and 2018), of peasants (Agrarian Strike of 2013), of indigenous people (various mingas and regional strikes in the south of the country) and a first general strike attempt (November 2019), which was postponed due to the irruption of the pandemic, stand out. This nonconformity, latent in various sectors of the population, has been related to the impact of neoliberalism and the signing of unfair free trade agreements, whose direct consequences are experienced and felt by the population that has endured worsening conditions of existence. In the long term, the strike is related to large urban protest movements that have taken place in Colombia, and of which can be taken as a starting point -not because it was the first, but the most significant- the popular insurrection at national level on April 9, 1948. And we point out this milestone, because the strike of 2021 has been predominantly urban, a feature that should be highlighted, because this variable explains to a large extent the visibility of State terrorism.

The brutal state response to the just and legitimate protest of plebeian sectors of the urban world has shown two things. On the one hand, the miseries and inequalities of the cities, large and small, in Colombia, where the existing structural inequality between the countryside and the city is reproduced, in which a small minority lives as it is in their inverted urban ghettos (for the rich), as if they lived in the opulent neighborhoods of the cities of the first world, while millions of Colombians survive in the midst of appalling misery, job insecurity, unemployment, informality and daily hustle and bustle. On the other hand, this inequality is maintained and reproduced, among other reasons, by the brute force of the Colombian State, whose presence in the poorest areas of the country, including the cities, is reduced to military battalions, police stations, CAIs… without any social presence, because there are no hospitals, schools, parks, or state companies to provide employment and help the population.

Repression has been the daily bread in the poor areas of the country, including its cities, which means that, above all, young people of both sexes suffer harassment, persecution, stigmatization, sexual violence… However, until the Paro, a dominant image of this state and para-state violence (since it resorts to paramilitary groups and hired killers to “clean” the neighborhoods of “undesirable people”) predominated: it was marginal and, to some extent, justified among the urban middle classes as necessary to contain insecurity, or to confront the insurgent movement in agrarian areas.

Until the outbreak of the strike, it was thought that the Colombian State was only repressive of the insurgency in the countryside, but it was assumed that the military forces were meek doves in the cities, where they did not experience what the peasants endure daily, who are subjected to the dictatorship of the military forces and their paramilitary emulators. Before the strike, many Colombians from the urban middle classes thought that institutional violence was something marginal and distant, because they had become accustomed to watching our war on television. Bombings, massacres, tortures, rapes, disappearances… appeared as distant and acceptable for many of those sectors, as the cost to be paid by those who rebelled with weapons in their hands. But, not even in the curves, they imagined that something like that could be seen in the cities. And we repeat, it is not that this was not lived in the cities, but that it was endured by the poor in their neighborhoods and this had little interest for the inhabitants of middle class neighborhoods and for the rich and powerful it simply did not exist and did not matter.

But lo and behold, the strike begins and immediately the state repression emerges clearly, using the same mechanisms of official terrorism that it has always used in Colombia. And these mechanisms of repression become more visible as the strike radicalizes and deepens. In the end, the repression leaves a toll of some 80 Colombians murdered by the bullets of the Colombian State. Hundreds of people were wounded, dozens disappeared, twenty women were raped. In the rich neighborhoods there are armed civilians who, protected by the police, shoot at people and these same individuals present themselves as the genuine expression of the “good Colombians” who act to defend their interests from those intruders, Indians, blacks and poor, who dared to sully their luxurious neighborhoods.

The disinformation media lie, as is their custom, about what is happening, but this time, unlike what has always happened, they are ridiculed and their lies are uncovered, because popular communication channels emerge and, through cell phones and social networks, photos and videos are spread about the official criminality and the genocide in progress.

These messages show us that in our country the Israeli methods of repression are replicated, with the use of lethal weapons in demonstrations, the use of helicopters in the neighborhoods of towns and cities to shoot people, the shooting in the face of those who protest (very much in the Chilean and Israeli style) to cause them harm and leave them blind.

In Colombia it happened a bit like the famous story of the Guatemalan writer Agousto Monterroso that says “When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there”. In effect, a large part of the country woke up and State terrorism was still there, it had never left, what happened was that people had not wanted to look at it, in a kind of collective cognitive dissonance. Now, it was seen face to face, and not only inside Colombia, but also outside the country. To the point that such an inane and biased body in favor of the great powers, as is the UN Human Rights Commission, in a study released two weeks ago stated:

between April 28 and July 31 of this year it received reports of 63 people killed during the protest mobilizations that began at the end of April with the National Strike. Seventy-six percent of the deaths were due to gunshot wounds. […] In addition, armed individuals attacked demonstrators, sometimes with firearms, in the face of the passivity of the security forces.

In addition to the documented deaths, there are reports of 60 cases of sexual violence allegedly at the hands of the police. So far, the UN has verified 16. The report devotes a separate section to the criminalization and stigmatization of protesters, often through the media, who are associated with acts of vandalism or terrorism. The Office was also concerned about attacks on human rights defenders and journalists who have documented the events. [Available at: news.un.org

The fact that even the Office headed by Michelle Bachelet, which had previously justified State Terrorism in Colombia, made such statements highlights the way in which the image of the supposed Colombian democracy has been eroded at international level. And the image that remains is the one that fits the reality suffered by the majority of Colombians living in this country: a terrorist regime, counterinsurgent, that resorts to all methods (military, judicial, media…) to maintain the inequalities and privileges of an insignificant minority, whose representatives are the same that in the political sphere have governed this country for two hundred years.

But, as in the case of the terrorist State of Israel, the Colombian does not lag behind and not only denies the UN’s remarks, but also says that this instance intervenes in politics and with its condemnation sullies the honor of prestigious national institutions (such as the police, the Esmad and the armed forces) which he exalts as an example of patriotism. Through this path of rejection and denialism there is a confirmation of State terrorism that has come to public light in this 2021.

“They are not killing” was the synthetic message with which Colombian State Terrorism was denounced at the international level. And that message, as it had not happened in the recent history of our country, permeated in various areas outside Colombia and was amplified in different sporting, artistic and diplomatic scenarios during 2021. A clear sign that Colombian State terrorism began to be confronted outside our borders, which can be considered an important advance in terms of political clarification.

Assassination of the President of Haiti

On July 7, 2021, Jovenel Moïse, the president of Haiti, was assassinated in his residence. The material assassins were part of a transnational commando of mercenaries. As soon as the crime became known, the news began to circulate worldwide, being the most outstanding fact the composition of this group of mercenaries, most of them of Colombian nationality. That was the first surprise of the fact, and the second that they were not just any kind of mercenaries, but many of them had belonged to the Colombian National Army.

Of course, it was not the first time nor will it be the last time that Colombian military enlisted to carry out an operation of international terrorism, because they have been doing it for several years, to the extent that the counterinsurgency and criminal expertise of the armed forces of the Colombian State has been positively valued in the international market of mercenaries, encouraged by several countries in the world, starting with the United States.

In spite of these antecedents of organized assassination, the case of Haiti showed before the world the character of the repressive forces of the Colombian State, because the same thing they did to the President of Haiti, with all the sadism of the case (resorting to torture, for example) is what they have been doing with absolute impunity in our country for 75 years in the countryside and cities, as was ratified during the National Strike.

A few facts are revealing of the behavior and characteristics of these military forces: some of the mercenaries who participated in the crime of the Haitian president had been decorated for their great counterinsurgency achievements in Colombia, and even one of those who was killed had received honors for his deeds of war [See attached photo]. Another of the militia-mercenaries was being investigated for his direct responsibility in the state crimes known as “false positives” and another is a first cousin of Rafael Guarín, Security Advisor to the government of Sub-President Iván Duque. These data highlight the nexus between the Colombian State, its armed forces, international mercenarism and the crime of a president of the continent. All this is a staging of international terrorism in the Colombian style, which became visible to certain sectors of our continent and the world.

These two characteristics, that the mercenaries were Colombian and military, raise fundamental questions: Why did Colombian military participate in the assassination of a sitting president? What is the relationship between the counterinsurgency training of the Colombian army and this type of crime? What does the United States say about their participation in this crime, considering that seven of the Colombian military who assassinated the president of Haiti were trained at the School of the Americas? Among the great things taught by the United States in that school of official crime, is it not taught how to carry out coups and kill presidents? What links exist between the Colombian State and the intellectual organizers of this crime, when it is known that one of them, a resident in Miami, the Venezuelan Antonio Intriago, appears in a photo with Iván Duque when the latter was in the electoral campaign?

The links become more suspicious when we know of the multiple plans organized from Colombia (such as Operation Gideon) to kill the Venezuelan president and when we know that one of the organizers of the assassination of Jovenel Moïse is a Venezuelan, based in Miami and owner of CTU Security, a mercenary company. To complete, there is a lot of evidence, including photographs, showing the links between Antonio Enmanuel Intriago, owner of the Miami-based company that hired the mercenaries who assassinated the president of Haiti, and high ranking members of Uribism, which controls the Colombian State.

With all these elements, and many others that are barely known, there is no doubt that the State Terrorism that has been imposed in Colombia no longer operates only internally, but has become a non-traditional export of the country, as attested by the crime of the president of Haiti, one of the most shameful events of 2021, where the direct participation of mercenaries of the Colombian State armed forces, trained in the United States, was clear. This can no longer be hidden, no matter how much Semana Magazine has tried to clean the face of the Colombian Army hitmen, who even, as a clear example of the media manipulation of the upside-down world of which Eduardo Galeano spoke, are presented as “innocent victims”, simple tourists. Yes, the Colombian Army hitmen were enjoying the beaches of the Caribbean, while preparing the crime of the president of the poorest country of the continent!

Not even the worst media manipulations will ever be able to deny this crime, to which State terrorism Made in Colombia is directly linked and now an export product for the disgrace of our country and our America.

Source: La Pluma, translation: Internationalist 360

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