The Business Needs You
A Letter to North Americans Who Want to Work in Plan Colombia
By Laura del Castillo Matamoros
Narco News Editorial Columnist
April 20, 2005
Future saviors of our nation:
I write you in the name of all good Colombians, conscious of the fact that the only possible way out from the terrorist threat we now face lies in North American intervention. We are conscious of the fact that we have much to learn from your country, especially everything that has to do with the correct operation of the business.
It must be incredibly difficult for you to accept a job in Colombia, a country that suffers from such a bad reputation internationally. It is said that the country is dangerous for foreigners who come to visit; that it is ruled by guerrillas and paramilitaries; that it is the cradle of narco-trafficking and the epicenter of large-scale illegal drug production; that it is a hotbed of the worst criminals and murderers. In sum, one might say that Colombia has become Latin America’s own little version of hell.
But these are all just exaggerations. Right now, thanks to the effective action of Dr. Uribe’s “democratic security” policy and “Plan Patriot,” Colombia has become a true paradise, especially for the representatives of the U.S. government. If there is one place where they can feel safe, it is here. And you can’t deny that here your countrymen have found the freedoms they always dreamed of. Right?
Just look at the recent case of the five U.S soldiers – carrying out the charitable mission of providing logistic support for Plan Colombia’s military actions – who were “captured,” in late march, in a plane leaving Apiay, Meta department, for El Paso, Texas, with the insignificant amount of 16 kilos of cocaine.
These brave and daring men can tell you all about the advantages of working for Plan Colombia. See for yourselves – they have the opportunity to not only earn a very good salary, but they also have extra, very profitable business opportunities right at their fingertips.
Of course, on this point you must be asking yourselves, “if this is so, then why did these five countrymen of ours get caught?” Excellent question. Well, it had to be done, because these soldiers weren’t just weren’t careful: they offered a local private a role in the “operation,” who in the end turned them in (Colombians are natural traitors) and brought the whole thing out into the open. When things reach this magnitude, as you know, the U.S. government must clear its reputation at any cost.
What’s more, both the Colombian and U.S. governments are aware that anyone can commit a small transgression like this. It is for this reason that – and the “captured” soldiers can’t deny this – they have been treated with great consideration and respect. So much so that their identities have not been released to the public, nor even to the Colombian attorney general, who has requested them with the idea of investigating “the root cause” of the incidents. (Not to worry – the dignity of U.S. government employees comes before all else. Besides, you must understand, these “investigations” by the Colombian Justice Department are just part of a strategy of our government, a great pupil of your own, to demonstrate to the public that it is taking drastic measures against organized crime. Remember that keeping the masses subjugated is one of the most important resources we have to guarantee victory in the war on terror.)
On the other hand, it should be said that, although the five U.S. nationals were arrested in Colombia, they were moved without hesitation to their own country, to be duly processed there according to their right to be tried in their country of origin. This was done in accordance with an agreement signed by the U.S. and Colombia in 1962 (and ratified in 1974), which provides privileges and immunity to U.S. citizens sent to the country on official business. This agreement – which shows the level of brotherhood, solidarity, and especially equality that exists between our two countries – is clear in pointing out that no U.S. government employee, soldier, or contractor here can be arrested or tried by the Colombian authorities. (Of course, the crime of drug trafficking is not mentioned in the agreement, but if there is one think that can be adapted to fit new circumstances it is the law.) What more could you ask for?
And of course, you can be fully confident that this agreement will never be broken. Thanks to it, we must not forget, we now have Plan Colombia (your future and most profitable source of employment). Plan Colombia’s passage in 2000, overseen by then-president Andres Pastrana, made possible your government’s unforgettable charitable gesture of donating $1.7 million to begin this program to combat those two terrible Colombian afflictions of drug trafficking and guerrilla war – that it is to say, to guarantee the future of the business.
And President Uribe ratified this arrangement once again two years ago, when he released a diplomatic memo in which he reiterated his commitment to provide immunity to all those U.S. citizens working for Plan Colombia. He did this faced with a threat from the U.S. to freeze all economic assistance to countries that would not sign bilateral agreements to provide such benefits to U.S. citizens, especially in regards to crimes that could be brought before the International Criminal Court. In exchange for this affirmation from Uribe the U.S. gave Colombia $5 million more to keep perusing the interests of the buisn…– excuse me, to keep fighting the war on drugs.
Our government has taken up these international agreements – to guarantee a calm and worry-free stay for you in our country – so enthusiastically that it has been forced to face criticism from certain members of the Colombian Congress, already on their way to extinction, such as Gustavo Petro, Carlos Gaviria, Jimmy Chamorro, and Jairo Clopatofsky. These politicians say that the Colombian government should have requested the extradition of the five U.S. soldiers, considering that they were detained here. Acording to them, it is unfair that Colombia extradites its own criminals to the U.S. at an ever-faster pace, without the right to ask for the extradition of citizens of that country who commit crimes in ours.
But take no notice of these diatribes, esteemed future visitors. Colombian officials, such as the defense minister, are trying to calm these congressmen down, saying that the immunity agreement must be verified. Meanwhile, Roger Noriega, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for Latin American affairs, said that, although the soldiers can not be extradited, the Colombian justice system may still be able investigate their case. Small diplomatic concessions, you understand.
We should feel sorry for these naïve legislators, who have not been able to or have not wanted to understand that your country’s justice system is a thousand times more efficient than ours (so incredibly obsolete and provincial). It is so efficient, in fact, that one of the soldiers implicated in the “intercession” is already free, because it was “proven” that he had nothing to do with it. This shows undeniably that, just as Ambassador William Wood said, “the investigation is evolving” and that the U.S. government is “committed to applying the full weight of the law to anyone who might be involved.”
And so they will let the others go as well… or give them minimal prison sentences or house arrest. In this way will the U.S. government apply the full “weight of the law” to those five countrymen of yours, of that you can be sure.
You must recall those memorable past experiences that show how advantageous it is to work as a representative of the U.S. government. Doesn’t anyone remember that pleasant episode in 1999, when Laurie Hiett, the respectable wife of Colonel James Hiett (member of the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá and supervisor of the Southern Command’s anti-drug operations) was accused of sending drugs through diplomatic packages with the knowledge of her husband and the aid of the embassy’s Colombian driver?
To remember that episode is to remember that you have an entire country at your feet. Just look at Mrs. Hiett, who was sentenced to only five years in prison (even you must admit that that is nothing, considering how serious her crime was in the eyes of the international community, which believes so strongly in the goodness of the war on drugs) and her husband, Colonel Hiett, got only five months. And what happened to the driver? Well, as he was a Colombian, and as such, a poor devil of much lower standing and extremely dangerous, they gave him eight years in jail. That is, unlike the Hiett couple, whose wise, Anglo brains produced the idea of using the diplomatic packages for such mischievous ends, the driver still has two and a half years until he finishes his sentence. Nothing else could be done for them at that time. Besides, in the end the committed a serious error – they weren’t discreet.
And who could forget the emblematic case in which the DynCorp corporation, a private military contractor that participates in illicit crop fumigation, was implicated in May 2001 of attempting to send two bottles of “motor oil” from Bogotá’s El Dorado Airport to the United States. The substance in the bottles tested positive for heroin – a drug that is easily soluble in motor oil – in tests performed by Colombian police.
You may be wondering what happened in this case. Not to worry, the same thing happened as always happens in this type of situation, in which U.S. government functionaries are implicated in crimes: nothing. Once the issue became public, a DynCorp spokesperson quickly stated that tests had been on used oil that tested positive for drugs, but that the same tests were sent to the Colombian justice department, where further examination produced a negative result.
Nevertheless, the justice department took up the case. And guess what happened? Exactly. Nothing. The investigator in charge of the case made no further statements about it. As you can see, there is tacit immunity for U.S. government employees in Colombia.
Neither did anything happen when Michael Demons, a DynCorp paramedic, died from a cocaine overdose, right around when the “find” at the El Dorado Airport was coming to light. Of course, the official word was that he had died from a heart attack. Nobody gave any statement… ah, excuse me, I forgot. Someone did say something: that charming woman, Anne Patterson, former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, who said in a public letter “I especially oppose the fact that the character of a dead member of DynCorp is being judged.”
Nor did anything happen in the case of ten contractors (curiously, also from DynCorp) involved in the trade of illicit amphetamines. The case remains filed away with the Colombian justice department.
And surely nothing will happen either with the “investigations” into this latest case. According to official sources (not specified) quoted in the Colombian daily newspaper El Tiempo on April 6, these investigations are being carried out to dismantle a network led by a private contractor (to which U.S. and Colombian soldiers are also linked) which has been dealing drugs from Miraflores, Guaviare department, since 2003.
As you can see, your liberties are guaranteed here, and especially your liberties to practice the business in good terms. What, you don’t know what I’m talking about? Please. Don’t be so naïve. I’m talking about the imminent necessity to continue carrying out the fight “against” the drug trade, which is, in reality, a fight to prolong the drug trade, that is, the business.
So don’t you want to help protect the business that has made your country into a true world power? That has allowed it to buy arms to use in the fight against terrorism? That finances the campaigns of future presidents of the undeveloped world that will become your country’s firmest allies (President Uribe being a perfect example of this)? That produces excellent profits for DynCorp and other military companies, that efficiently dismantles drug labs and seize thousands upon thousands of kilos of “harmful” drugs… which are later rescued by soldiers, mercenaries, or embassy employees to be sent back to their country?
Do you want to benefit independently from the business? If the answer is yes, then come on down to Colombia. Here you are guaranteed to find, if you know how to be discreet, people to take the fall and show the world how well the war on drugs is working. Who are these people? Will, if you’ve studied any of the history of the war on drugs, you should know well: small farmers of coca and opium poppy; leaders of the peasant farmers, indigenous, or workers (we have the ability to magically transform these last few into “terrorists,” or, even better, “narcoterrorists”); the unemployed who, facing desperation, end up carrying bags of drugs in their stomachs from one country to the next; paramilitaries, guerrillas, small street dealers, addicts, etc… all the poor Colombian demons, like the embassy driver, who have no influence. Who aren’t the husbands, wives, children, brothers, or sisters of anybody important.
Seriously, working for Plan Colombia is well worth your time.
Think about how the business needs you;
how the well-bred Colombians, with good family names and political influence, need you;
how capitalism needs you;
how your country, where democracy and opportunity are possible, needs you.
In sum, the system, the New World Order, that is manifested in the spirit of the business, needs you.
Consider it well… we await you here anxiously.
Eternally at your feet,
– An ordinary Colombian (who hopes to some day have a name of enough importance to address you properly).
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