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Colombia Solidarity Campaign

Bulletin Issue9 - January?March 2003

US Troop Build Up

Marines Ordered In via Peru

Around October 2002 two battalions of US Marine Jungle Expeditionary Forces received deployment orders for insertion into Colombia in February, 2003.

<b><span class="subhead">Marines Ordered In via Peru</span></b> <p> <span class="bodytext">Around October 2002 two battalions of US Marine Jungle Expeditionary Forces received deployment orders for insertion into Colombia in February, 2003. </span> </p>

Marines Ordered In via Peru

Around October 2002 two battalions of US Marine Jungle Expeditionary Forces received deployment orders for insertion into Colombia in February, 2003.

According to reliable sources, the battalions, roughly 1,100 men, will rotate in and out of southern Colombia by way of Peru, with orders to eliminate all high officers of the FARC, scattering those who escape to the remote corners of the Amazon. The offensive will be led by the Colombian military, which will push the FARC south toward the waiting Marines. The US troops will probably operate out of both the US base at Manta on the coast of Ecuador as well as at a secret base deep in the Peruvian jungle near the Putumayo river—Peru’s border with Colombia.

The presence of US troops in battle in Colombia will be in direct contravention of Congressional restrictions on military aid. But with the propaganda that has been churned out during the past year regarding terrorism—including Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers’ claim that the FARC were training with Al Qaida (a statement he quietly rescinded)—the administration feels the American public’s outrage will be controllable.

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo denied any future involvement of US troops on Peruvian soil, or the presence of a US base in Peru. But insiders saw the arrival of the USS Portland with 600 Marine jungle troops near Iquitos in Peru’s Amazonian interior last year as a double message. To the FARC it said that the US can show up any time and cut off their southern river escape routes. To the Peruvians it was a reminder that Toledo had crossed the line when he abruptly cancelled a joint Peruvian-US military training exercise in April 2002.

The administration will try to keep the presence of the marines secret for as long as possible. But in the event that the US public discovers that its government is engaging in an offensive war, the administration is prepared to deal with that, including taking the heat for as many indigenous peoples and campesinos as might be killed.

Peter Gorman

(Abridged, full article in


US Special Forces personnel started to arrive in Colombia in October 2002 as part of a $95 million package to train two Colombian army units and equip them with helicopter gun-ships.

The new training and equipment is aimed at increasing security for the Caño Limon oil pipeline that is owned and operated by Los Angeles-based Occidental. The pipeline, which runs through north-eastern Colombia, is a regular target (it was out of action for more than 170 days in 2001) of leftwing rebels, who object to Colombia’s oil wealth being expropriated by multinational corporations. The newly trained units are expected to attempt to find the guerrilla units responsible as well as guard the pipe.

The two units due to receive the training and equipment, the 5th and 18th Brigades of the Colombian army, both have a long history of violating human rights and setting up and working with paramilitary death squads. Human rights organisations fear that the fresh aid will lead to further violations, especially as Washington enforces none of the human rights conditions attached to legislation on aid to the Colombian military.

According to Isabel Acevedo Muñoz, a human rights worker in the region, the new aid is very worrying to her and her colleagues. “Why is the US working with these military units when it is so well-known that they are always targeting the civilian population? Both the 5th and the 18th Brigades work with the death squads and we fear that this training could easily increase the problems especially if the US trainers teach them the sort of scorched earth tactics used in Central America and other places.”

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