On Thursday October 19th a car bomb exploded in the heart of the Colombian military headquarters in Bogotá. The so called War Academy houses the Schools of the Infantry, Artillery and Intelligence; the Superior War School; the training center for the High Military Command; and the Installations of the XIII Brigade and 5th Army Division. The damage to the installations was extensive but no one was killed and 23 people were left injured.
This attack occurred while the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe Vélez is negotiating with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Havana in a search for a peace formula to end the 60 year old civil war. Negotiations were progressing with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an effort to bring about a humanitarian exchange of hostages held by the FARC for Colombian guerrillas held in government jails, as a first step of negotiating peace with the FARC.
Uribe was reelected in May in a landslide victory (63% of votes cast) and started his second term in August. His election platform had been to bring peace to Colombia through negotiations, in complete contrast to his 2002 campaign which was based on defeating the ELN and the FARC militarily.
As all international observers are aware, this policy failed miserably. The ELN and FARC remained as strong as ever. Even with an average of US$600 million per year sent by the US in the context of Plan Colombia since 2000 - accompanied by US military advisers and some troops - the number of acres for planting of coca is up by around 30% despite mass fumigation to kill off the crops. Little is reported in the so called “free press” about the damage being done to human beings and wildlife since the fungicide chemicals used and manufactured by Monsanto are illegal in the US and Europe.
In the context of these negotiations the bomb attack on the War Academy could not have come at a more surprising time. Two days later on Saturday October 21st, Uribe gave a speech accusing the FARC of planting the bomb citing proof of an intercepted e-mail allegedly sent from Bogotá to a high ranking FARC Commander, Mono Jojoy in the jungle, informing him of the success of the operation. On the basis of this proof, Uribe announced that he was breaking off negotiations with the FARC, ordered all the hostages held to be rescued in military operations and declared an all out war on the FARC.
The Colombian Attorney General, being far more cautious than Uribe, stated that there was no conclusive proof that the FARC had carried out the attack. Nevertheless, Uribe stuck by his guns and has effectively and irresponsibly run roughshod over the official investigations by taking this decision.
Colombia has reacted with horror, especially the hostages’ families, since if there are military operations to rescue the hostages, they will most certainly be executed by the FARC as the internal war escalates. Even the conservative Colombian media, run by the local oligarchy and transnational interests were up in arms about Uribe’s decision, as doubts were cast upon the veracity of the authors of the attack.
Let’s be clear about one thing – placing a car bomb in the heart of the Colombian military headquarters and not killing anyone sounds almost like a miracle. The FARC are experienced in planting bombs, blowing up electricity pylons and oil pipelines. Did they really manage to breach the most heavily secured installations in Colombia, place a car bomb and then not kill anyone? It sounds rather unlikely to say the least and this is why the media has its doubts about Uribe’s “discovery” of the incriminating email sent to Commander Jojoy.
Dick Emanuelsson, a seasoned progressive writer on Colombia and who interviewed FARC Commander Raul Reyes in 2003 maintains that the interception of such an email is impossible. The FARC uses short wave radios and not GSM so as to avoid their troops being tracked. In addition, all messages are encrypted in a program called PGP-DOS and sent by short wave. According to Emanuelsson, not even the fabled supercomputers can decode these messages, and Uribe would have us believe that the Colombian military managed to do this in 24 hours?
In other words, the Colombian Attorney General is correct – there is no proof that the FARC and Commander Jojoy were behind this attack. Could it be that this was an internal “black op” to create a pretext to break off negotiations unilaterally with the FARC? Remember, no one was killed. Why did not Uribe allow the investigations to continue to discover the real culprits of the attack before taking a decision which will cost even more lives?
The answer to this question is rather complex. However, one coincidence stands out like a sore thumb. On Thursday October 26th, Nicolas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs arrived in Bogotá and confirmed that Colombia was one of the US main allies in the region, that the Free Trade Agreement would be ratified and that more military aid would be available for Plan Colombia in the fight against drugs and terrorism. This was very convenient for Uribe who had just declared all out war on the FARC. Burns applauded Uribe’s decision to take the war to the FARC which he labeled a “terrorist organization”.
For readers information, the FARC were only labeled a “terrorist organization” by the US after the attacks on the World Trade Center is September 2001. Previously, the FARC and ELN were fighting a civil war for nigh on 60 years against the Colombian governments of the day. Uribe has now unilaterally decided to join the US led “war on terror” flying in the face of Colombian public opinion and the Colombian Congress and Senate. Looking at Colombia’s bloody history since 1830 – 9 civil wars in the 19th century plus the 1000 day war from 1899-1902, without mentioning the ongoing 60 year war – more blood is about to be shed.
Plan Colombia has been running since 2000 with many commentators observing that the long term aim is to use this plan as a beach head, so that the US can dominate South America to feed the interests of the Global Corporate Empire. Plan Colombia could soon change its name to Plan Patriota. Sounds familiar?
The US has lost a great deal of influence in the region since 1999 when Hugo Chávez came to office in Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution started to spread and awaken oppressed people in this most unequal of all continents. Chávez is a real problem for the US despite two attempts to overthrow him in the April 2002 coup d’état and the civic strike and oil industry sabotage from end 2002 till February 2003.
The US is aware that it cannot defeat Chávez at the ballot box. With elections in December pointing to a landslide victory for Chávez, the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Revolution, the only way to stop Chávez is by destabilizing Venezuela. Most observers believe that a Chávez reelection is a foregone conclusion unless “anything out of the ordinary” happens.
This is where Colombia comes into the mix. An all out war on the FARC could push not only more refugees over the Colombo-Venezuelan border (all 1400 miles of it) fleeing the violence and adding to the second largest refugee problem in the world after Dafour, but also columns of FARC guerillas fighting the Colombian army. This would be a real problem for Chávez since he has always tried to solve conflicts by peaceful means and negotiations. Venezuela could well be dragged into the Colombian internal conflict, and as this is a “war on terror” which has no limits set by the UN, Colombian troops would no doubt pursue the FARC into Venezuelan territory.
This is one scenario which cannot be dismissed. Chávez has stated that any irregulars or troops entering Venezuelan territory will be repelled. If this is the policy then Venezuelan troops could end up fighting FARC guerrillas and even Colombian regulars violating Venezuela’s territorial sovereignty.
If the Venezuelan army does not repel any invaders, then the cry will go out from the US that Venezuela is supporting a “terrorist organization” and all the old rumors and lies will be recycled about FARC camps in Venezuela; Chávez arming, financing and in cahoots with the FARC; Al Qaeda or Hezbollah training camps on Margarita Island; Chávez supporting “terrorist regimes” in Iran, Cuba, North Korea and so on.
Over the last three years Colombia has strengthened its armed forces to around 300,000 troops preparing for the final conflict. At best the FARC has 18,000 men under arms and the regular Venezuelan army is around 120,000 troops, 40,000 of which are stationed on the Colombo-Venezuelan border. If there is any sort of armed conflict on the border, this could well have a destabilizing effect internally in Venezuela since around 3 million Colombians live throughout Venezuela.
In the light of such a scenario, the Venezuelan private media lined up against Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution will almost certainly support Uribe’s efforts to defeat the FARC. For example, if the FARC is forced over the border into Venezuela, the hue and cry will be that “Chávez is harboring “terrorists” in Venezuela”. The next step will be the international media and then the US making some sort of pronouncements saying that Venezuela is not doing enough to fight “international terrorism and drug trafficking”.
The timing to create this crisis in Colombia by Uribe is perfect. Destabilize the border before the December 3rd elections; manufacture a crisis with Venezuela dragging it into the Colombian internal conflict. To all intents and purposes, this looks like Plan Colombia, Phase # 2, as has always been suspected by progressive observers, but dismissed as a paranoid fantasy by the corporate media and “sensible” official observers.
This scenario smells like a plan hatched in the dirty war rooms in Langley and there is no doubt that the CIA will be involved in this plan, its strategy and execution. If the US gets more actively involved in rooting out the FARC, troops could be drafted in from other friendly countries to Colombia. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala come to mind as all these countries sent troops to Iraq in the “war on terror”. The US will fight this war by proxy, selling more military equipment and funding Colombia.
After all, if Venezuela is destabilized and oil shipments threatened upon which the US depends, then the US could moot some sort of intervention to safeguard the oil. This is the prize which the US is seeking and which it failed to secure using its lackeys in Venezuela in 2002 and 2003. At the same time, the aim is to weaken and eventually destroy the Bolivarian Revolution and get Chávez out of office or into the tomb.
There could be difficult days ahead in the coming months and let’s hope and pray that this Machiavellian scenario does not develop, pitting brother against brother in an unnecessary bloody conflict from which the only winner to emerge will be the US and its controlling stockholders – the Global Corporate Empire.