February 29, 2012

Colombia: The Narcotraffic Pretext

An Unprecedented Yankee Interference

The relations between the Colombian government and the US are going through a process of deepening crisis. At the centre is the illegal drugs subject. Contradictions deal with North American imperialism interest to exert a direct control on psycotropic business, and also, to impose categorically all its policies. The US elections’ issue plays a stimulating role, due that candidates try to woo North American middle class votes, a class embed in rancid puritan and philistine feelings that always see the danger out of their borders. Nothing better for their purposes than a Latin American demon and lacking of a Noriega, good is Samper.

The issue is also affected by Samper’s search for possibilities of offering the Colombian riches to other imperialists, such as minerals, strategic position, biodiversity and a route for a transoceanic canal. Especially the relations with Great Britain are significant, due that BP, British Petroleum, has benefited from the best conditions in the last contracts, and now wants to re-negotiate them with a weak government badly in need of support to obtain bigger investment profitability.

But, above all these shades, we cannot lose sight that there is a deep seated fact that makes all exploiters’ interests coincide, it has to deal with the long run counterinsurgency strategy, that leads towards defeating Colombian revolution, under a guise of moral crusade against drugs.

The so-called “discertification” that Clinton government imposed on Colombia expresses the assumption of imperialism’s “right” to interfere on dependent countries under the name “war against drugs”. In fact, further more than the “moral sanction” character which supposedly has, it conveys a serious economic impact and exerts political and military pressure. The cancellation of US entry visa to president Samper and a number of bourgeois politicians, the permanent pressure of Yankee Senate to impose its policies in all fields, mainly in justice and public order subjects, enlarged by numerous facts such as threats of commercial sanctions, encouraging the most retrograde sector to replace the government, and the intimidating comparisons with Noriega, are the expressions of Clinton’s discontent towards the way narcotics control polices are applied in the country.

According to today’s Yankee interests, Samper is a key instrument, because his weakness and submission allows them to impose their policies for nothing in exchange. The proof is that his government has hit hard mafia’s big barons, betraying the agreements he made with those that helped him in his election, has intensified indiscriminate serial spray of coca crop, has applied an unparalleled repression and has committed himself to a constitutional counter reform that strengthens the regressive aspects of the present Constitution and adds new ones. The only issue that was lacking in the agenda, US priority, was that of extradition, which is already in the political discussion; and it would not be surprising to get parliamentary approval. Nevertheless, this government is not well received by North American Senate, nor by the Clinton administration, which hit him as an outcast.

Military Hand at the Centre

Nowadays there are huge protest marches of more than 150.000 peasants, part of the 250.000 families that have some links with the coca crop, in several points of the country, which are treated as narcotraffickers and “narcoguerrillas” according to the formula inaugurated by ex-US ambassador Lewis Tambs, an expert in drugs himself, as he was a trader with them to finance the “contras” in Nicaragua, a fact which has been proved at the moment. Besides the brutal manner of the government in dealing with the problem, it is noticeable that we are facing a counter-revolutionary strategy that intends to illegitimise the popular struggle by criminalizing it. Now any anti-imperialist struggle is seen at the service of narcotraffic.

High military command heading this tactic has been able to “convince” the Yankees that Colombian guerrilla movement and narcotrafficking are the same thing, and now the military aid it receives has been “permitted” for the use of combating subversion. This is not new; before it was done undercover. What is new is the “legitimacy” that this action received. This could result in a large scale military invasion. This is something that should not be disregarded in the presence of great inefficiency of the government military apparatus.

Yankee military presence is not a novelty in this country, neither its all round dependency to the Pentagon. What is meaningful is that within Andean Strategy, included in the Santa Fe II document, Colombian case acquired some particular implications, because it is a country where an insurgent movement is strong and government has not been able to wipe it out. This leads imperialists and bourgeoisie to raise the question of higher military foreign troops presence to combat it, and to introduce different means and methods.

Today’s US proposal is to give a more military character to drugs war and to justify it as supposedly a common cause. In this way it is looking towards legitimising the extra-territoriality of counter-insurgency struggle and making the right to interfere morally valid. What is at stake is the notion and defence of national security of imperialist State and the development of its expansionist trend in the middle of the struggle for world hegemony. In other sphere Helms-Burton law pretends to do the same. It is the “justified intervention” theory which throws national sovereignty overboard.

We are facing the same interventionism as always, only that now it is adorned with “humanitarian”, “moral” or “democratic” arguments which allow imperialism to present preventive defence, extra territorial activity and invasion as legitimate actions in the face of the world-multinational coercion, in order to preserve US national security.

Colombian Particularities

Colombian case requires special tactics to be dealt with. It is known that Colombia is one of the countries in the world with higher violence indexes and this trend has increased lately. In 1994 there were 26.828 homicides, 6 per cent of which is attributed to armed conflict. The causes of the rest of it, are unidentified. They are carried out in the middle of great impunity. Colombia exhibits horrid records of human rights violations. There has been moments of 5 to 10 political murders a day. Significantly the country receives half of military assistance that US distributes in the hemisphere, an amount which is increasing.

There is a strong and developing guerrilla movement. Although the guerrilla movement is still a rural phenomenon, it is no longer marginal; right now it seriously affects the economy and risks the country’s economic prospects, multinationals’ interests centred in energetics, mining and biodiversity resources.

The guerrilla movement at present is already threatening the power’s rules and it is a risk to bourgeois stability, making it necessary for them to defeat this movement, if they are to have a quiet future. Taking this analysis in a wider context of economic deterioration, business profit’s sensible aspects, low productivity, high cost of living, rising unemployment, growing inflation and deepening recession, there is not much scope for the dominant classes to be optimistic .

As if this were not enough, we are going through a deep institutional disadjustement, which assumes the form of permanent quarrelling in all branches of power and which extends to different social agents, political parties, personalities, and so on, a constant bickering which reflects that bourgeois consensus is cracking and that the so-called governability is getting closer to its limits. From the popular side, discontent grows, inconformity appears in many ways, and bourgeois hegemony is weakened. The sharpening process of social contradictions forces imperialism and the Colombian bourgeoisie to become more aggressive and dangerous.
Not everything that shines is gold

Our Party is very interested to establish very well what is the meaning of narcotraffic in Colombia and the profound differences that separates it from revolutionary struggle, even if in appearance their interests coincide with confronting North Americans. To us there cannot exist common objectives between narcotraffickers and the revolutionary project. There is nothing alike between the guerrilla movement and paramilitarism, which is another arm of national security policy, linked to narcotraffic. To lose sight of this can lead us away from revolution and walk through dangerous trails.

Another completely different subject is to make clear that revolutionaries are not Colombian State’s policemen to apply repression on a sort of business that was born from capitalist deep core and that comprises a wide range of social stratas, from low rank workers to narco-landlords and narco-financiers. We state clear class differences for its treatment. The big barons are capitalists, who lead multinationals, who have accumulated their wealth through narcotics trade, and who protect this wealth by resorting to huge violence. They are counter-revolutionary forces, who take part in the system and who are at its service in different manners. Rank and file workers who grow and crop row material, come from poor and middle peasants ranks, from tenant farmers, who are in an increasing impoverishment process, lacking labour guaranties, not having State attention, living under police and military repression, so do not have anything to lose with the triumph of revolution .

North American politics is clear in this: It uses the war on drugs as a counterinsurgent pretext. While it benefits from capitals, protects its own big barons and uses them as spearhead of reaction, it orders to annihilate and displace coca’s producers and croppers masses, binding them with the “subversion” label and up-scaling its interventionist level.

The Hydra’s Heads

It is necessary to look narcotraffic problem in a multilateral manner, due to its deep implications. In the economic angle we observe a tendency of monopolisation and the control of this business is in the hands of the North Americans. It is not difficult to notice who has the lion’s share in finance matters. Nor is it a secret that the production areas of row materials tend to be centralised by a few owners. In Colombia, narco-landowners posses 8 per cent of the country’s agricultural surface out of a total estimated to be 40 million square hectares. Among them are 5 million hectares of the best soils, dedicated preferentially to extensive cattle raising, and a range of influence in some 400 municipalities from the total 1.050 that the country has. As an example, we should mention that only one family, the Ochoa’s clan, possesses a million hectares.

Around this process hovers also the chemical inputs production. North American companies supply 90 per cent of chemical material that is used in Colombia. Nobody in the US is interested to exert control on this trade. It would be relatively easy to determine the percentage that is routed to legal uses and the one dedicated to drugs processing to stop these imports. But the Clinton government and its multinationals are interested in selling them, especially now with narrow markets. Besides, they sold “gliphosphate” and now “imazapyr” for the permanent serial spray camains, that have devastating effects on all crops, land and every living creature.

There is a growing world demand for hallucinogenic drugs. In the US, according to their own studies, consumption among teenagers grew by 105 per cent between 1992 and 1995. Last year’s increase was 166 per cent.

In 1989, chiefs of states from the Group of Seven, formed a financial action team, called GAFY, to calculate narcotraffic money. Logically, the specialists involved limited their job to sum up official reports. It is impossible to measure this powerful market’s different magnitudes. But from guesses linked to the seizures made, it was established that yearly consumption in the US alone, could reach some 150 tons of cocaine. This figure is an excellent indicator of a promising market and everything leads that the reckoning is a conservative one. Of course, the trend is not to decrease this volume. Polices in that country do not point in that direction. Its justice system, presented as a paradigm to dependent countries, is limited to punish drastically the use of crack and other low quality or leftover stuff, but cocaine does not suffer the same rigour. It is a matter of different class consumers and capitalism does not forget it. Besides, there is not a deep work in prevention and education towards consumption, nor can they combat the causes intertwined to this decadent system.

Another chapter, is the laundering of drugs money. In 1988 the UN spoke of some 300 billion dollars as drugs business money world volume, in other words, around 10 per cent of world trade. Right now, the OECD, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, reckons that this business income is above 600 billion dollars a year, half of which circulates through American banks. (Data from a Conference of Noam Chomsky.) Colombia may get 4 or 5 billion dollars a year. We are speaking of no negligible figures.

Something else is this business’ close relationship with arms trafficking. The market is huge and it is sold by different means. Governments, paramilitary and in general all direct or indirect actors in the contest should be nourished. It should not be forgotten that North Americans dominate 3/4 of the trade in dependent countries. The peace and disarmament tale is left for the naive, because arms traffickers need to make their kills in this anarchic and warmongering world.

It is not difficult to elucidate that the narcotics commerce has been utilised as economic stimulant, which produces enormous profits and even dinamizes other important areas. In Colombia it is clear that sectors such as construction and its aggregates, tourism and hotels, have been great beneficiaries. Even automotive industry, agroindustry, and textile mills add to the preferred business; land, cattle and of course financial sector. All of them have enjoyed this “bonanza”. The Colombian bourgeoisie and its government resent that now their masters in the empire want total control of it.


Other phenomenon tied to this topic is the upsurge of paramilitarism. Towards the 80s thugs gangs and paramilitarism were felt strongly in the country. Its character is openly reactionary. They are closely connected with government armed forces, with the big economic groups and with narcotics mafia. They are another piece of the counterinsurgency strategy, as a by-product of National Security Doctrine.

We are dealing with a force with a centralised command from the chief of staff of the army. It has received advice and training from Israelis, British and North Americans, besides their own Colombian instructors. Their weaponry is highly sophisticated and their objectives are clear: to destroy civil population in order to suppress support for the guerrilla forces. It is a division of functions, in which paramilitary carry out the dirty work.

Latest modality is to kidnap relatives of known guerrilla leaders. They already made terror schooling with indiscriminate massacres, murdering popular leaders, etc. They work to eliminate the “internal enemy” by any means.

Symbiosis of narcotraffickers, military command and monopolistic associations is evident, and besides the tangible proves, it can be detected in the zones of land concentration, in the lines of activity’s identity, and in the great strides of paramilitarism in wide zones of the country with the indulgence of the state. To complete the framework, there is a decree that legalises this counter-revolutionary arm with the creation of Private Security and Vigilance Cooperatives. They are branches of fascism that intend to strangle us. Their tentacles are multiple, so should be the popular response.

Final Considerations

It is clear that North American imperialism uses the pretext of narcotics to intervene more openly in Colombia. All the impact of this phenomenon is expressed in a complex play of interests, that demands from Marxist-Leninists to define with a lot clarity their point of view and their acts. We must link unmistakably imperialism’s interests with those of bourgeoisie in narcotraffic commerce. Their objectives are openly counter-revolutionary, aside from the forms they appear. We consider that the struggle against imperialism goes through the fight against mafia’s great interests, that in essence are those of a bourgeoisie that has sprung propped up in an unbridle violence. Democracy and socialism rest on national and social liberation; they should be detached with no ambiguity from drugs trade.

Armed struggle is degraded in the proportion that it lets narcotraffic penetration; its political project gets blurred, and it jeopardises its objectives. There are no common interests between guerrillas and narcotraffickers. Anyone who misses this point moves away from the revolutionary course.

Our party will continue to fight North American imperialism by different means and in the required forms. We do not accept this new Yankee argument to use force on national sovereignty and independence. We will go on encouraging anti-imperialist feelings rising with higher consciousness of the necessity of national and social liberation.

Regarding narcotraffic, at the moment, we have a point of view stemming from our anti-imperialist and democratic tactics, which require to treat the issue both national and internationally as a social and not as national security subject, to confront the causes and not exclusively the effects, to prevent consumption and not to repress small producers, to punish paramilitary which are the armed branch of the big beneficiaries, to stop dominant classes’ corruption and all the devastating effects from drugs. For that we neither need imperialism nor its agents.

Communist Party of Colombia (M-L)