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The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

The Neoliberal Massacre

From Washington to Colombia... with Impunity

The Real Role of Carlos Castaño's Death Squads

By Heinz Dieterich Steffan

October 7, 2000

Carlos Castaño is the boss of the death squads in Colombia. The television networks of the world interview him without any problem. The counter-revolutionaries in Miami meet with his emissaries in Paris. The Department of State contacts him by telephone. Anyone who wants to find him knows how to do it; above all, the police and military apparatus of the government of Andrés Pastrana.

The same Castaño has said, publicly on national and international television, that 90 percent of his income is from drug trafficking; that, for three years, the government has had the lists of the weathy businessmen that support him economically; and that the State Department of Madeleine Albright has called him to ask for his support for Plan Colombia, offering him weapons if he leaves his drug trafficking business.

None of this has been able to motivate the government of Pastrana and his mentor in Washington, Bill Clinton, to take measures against this delinquent, whose killers - named with the euphemism of "paramilitaries" - carry out with impunity his latest style of terror: cutting its victims into pieces with chainsaws to intimidate the civil population.

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo explained on May 1, 1999 why Castaño and his death squads are untouchable. Quoting Phil Chicola, Assistant Secretary of Andean Affairs for the State Department, Chicola confirmed that although the paramilitaries are considered as terrorist groups by the State Department, they are not formally included in the list of international terrorists by the US government. And why not?

It's obvious that the Colombian death squads don't meet this standard of Madeleine Albright's, because its terrorism against the civil population serves, in the first place, the United States, second, the Colombian oligarchy and, third, themselves. Plan Colombia, like any counter-insurgency plan - that is to say, State terrorism against the civil population - is not primarily aimed at the at the famous armed guerrillas, but, rather, against its social base. The way to destroy this social support is with massacres, forced disappearances, torture, the rape of women, the burning of homes and crops, and the destruction of livestock belonging to small farmers.

This is the task of the paramilitaries. Because the Army and the Colombian police are known globally as the worst human rights violators in Latin America, Washington has established a division of labor in Plan Colombia: The Army protects the death squads of Castaño from armed self-defense by the civilian population, the guerrillas, and the paramilitaries conduct the war of extermination against the civilian population; the war of terror that the assassins call "social cleansing."

This policy by Washington serves three owners: the paramilitaries get to keep the lands of the peasant farmers who escape from the terror of "social cleansing"; the Colombian oligarchy saves, once more, its secular regime of violence and exploitation from the threats of democratization and popular justice, and the empire obtains the following benefits:

1. It demonstrates to those below it that any change in Latin América has to come from Washington. Whoever violates this axiom ends up like Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Milosevic in Kosovo.

2. The US system of domination in the North of South America is preserved inside of "Bolívar's Triangle," which includes Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. With the growing instability of neoliberal dictators in Bolívia, Perú and Paraguay - and, in a certain sense, also in Argentina - the centrifugal Bolivian tendencies threaten the status quo of the entire hemispheric regime of Washington.

3. Plan Colombia, is, at the same time, a warning to Brazil, to not advance the Bolivian project of a unification of South America outside of the realm of the empire.

4. The price that the Colombia oligarchy pays to maintain itself in power through the direct intervention of the empire is the recolonization of the entire country, or, in other words, its absolute neoliberalization.

Plan Colombia promises economic stabilization through fiscal balance: cuts in public spending; widening the sales tax base; freezing of public salaries; privatization of state banks and businesses; "open skies" agreements with the United States; transparency and efficiency in the regulation of biotechnology products and the protection of the Amazon forest, defined as "an area of immense biodiversity and environmental importance for the international community."

In fact, the Amazon is the real strategic objective of Plan Colombia, because it contains the four raw materials of the new millenium: biodiversity, renewable fresh water, oil, and the reproductive system of 40 percent of the planet's oxygen. Any social actor, be it the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (Conaie) or the Bolivian movement of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, that demands self-determination by the peoples and States of Latin America over their resources, becomes the enemy of Washington... and of the neoliberal oligarchies.

This is the reason for Plan Colombia and for the impunity of Carlos Castaño and his assassins.

Read: Carlos Castaño, Narco-of-the-Month

Touching the Untouchables