Guardian letter: Nightmare in Colombia Print
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Media - Press
Monday, 14 January 2002 00:00
The breakdown of talks between the Pastrana government in Colombia and the Farc guerrillas threatens to worsen the nightmares of Colombians. Freshly equipped with Black Hawk helicopters, the armed forces now have a rapid reaction force and they are champing at the bit. It was clear even before September 11 that the US had been pushing for war in Colombia. Now, under Bush's doctrine of "those who are not for us are against us", there is no restraint.

To put this rejection of a negotiated settlement into perspective, for 50 years there has been a policy of state terrorism against all opposition, armed or not. At least 160 trade unionists were assassinated last year, and every other social movement has suffered similarly.

The Colombian president imposes the IMF doctrine, forcing through displacement and poverty. Since December 25, 800 men and women have been in occupation to stop the privatisation of water, electricity and telecommunications in homes and business in Cali, the second city. They have the support of the city's poor neighbourhoods, for whom keeping these services in the public sector is a life and death matter.

But Pastrana needs the proceeds from state sell-offs to pay for his gunships. If he were a man of peace, he would stop following the diktats of Washington and listen to the needs of his people. International opinion should mobilise to stop the privatisation and the war. They are both part of the same militarised structural adjustment programme.

Andy Higginbottom
Colombia Solidarity Campaign

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