Monday, March 26, 2007

The Continued Refusal to Deal with Colombia's Paramilitary Forces

In the wake of the recent positive development involving heavy fines for Chiquita for paying paramilitaries for protection, the efforts to curb Colombia's paramilitary groups has suffered another setback. President Álvaro Uribe's administration rejected a leaked CIA report that ties Colombia's right-wing paramilitary groups directly to army chief Gen. Mario Montoya. Uribe's administration, which recently won re-election in a fiercely contested election, has faced myriad problems as strong ties between ranking members of his administration and the paramilitary groups have become clearer.

Uribe could do the right thing and fire those involved, disavowing himself of anybody who supports these terrorist groups that patrol Colombia's rural areas and often kill indiscriminately in the name of tracking "subversives". Instead, though, he continues to refuse what is becoming increasingly clear, and what many have suspected since the strong rise of the paramilitaries since at least the 1980s: the Colombian state, through its material, economic, and moral support of the paramilitary groups, has waged state-sponsored terror, killing indiscriminately in the name of trying to subdue the revolutionary group FARC's 40-year guerrilla war.

Instead of taking real steps towards an actual resolution to this conflict, he has stubbornly dug his heels in, refusing what even the courts are now acknowledging somewhat in the trials and testimonies of paramilitaries: that the Colombian government and the paramilitaries are in the same bed. If he really wanted to see an end to the useless violence and to find a peaceful solution to the 40+-year struggle in Colombia, then he wouldn't talk about the need for the "courts to do their jobs". He could take the initiative, disavow any and all such activities and those involved with them, and move towards peace. Unfortunately, Uribe's refusal of the increasingly open facts would seem to indicate that we will have to continue waiting for a real leader in Colombia who will not only say he or she wants peace; he or she will actually work for it every chance they get.