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Exclusive: Haitians Reject Calls For US Military Intervention

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/07/2021 - 1:24am in

Two weeks after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the specter of U.S. military intervention looms large over the island nation. While the Biden administration has rebuffed a request for intervention made by Claude Joseph – a longtime NED asset whom Washington briefly backed as prime minister in the immediate aftermath of the killing – it has not completely ruled out the possibility. 

​In the days immediately following Moïse’s grisly machine-gun murder on July 7 by U.S.-trained Colombian mercenaries, the Washington Post editorial board published a call for a “swift and muscular intervention” — what would be the fourth U.S. military invasion of Haiti since 1915, when U.S. Marines first occupied the hemisphere’s second independent nation.

 

On July 13, as the Biden administration signaled its reluctance to launch a full-scale invasion of Haiti, the Post editorial board published a second call for U.S. military intervention, suggesting that it was the least bad option.

 

The same day, Post columnist and neoconservative writer Max Boot published an op-ed asserting that Haitians actually desire a U.S. invasion, entitled “Sorry, Haiti. The world’s policeman is officially off duty.”

 

Even the ostensibly progressive lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) refused to take a clear position against an intervention, saying that she opposed it “right now” and “without any sort of plan.”

While the Washington consensus is firmly in support of U.S. military deployment in Haiti, MintPress News traveled to Port-au-Prince to ask random Haitians in the street what they thought of a possible intervention.

​“We don’t want a military intervention,” Adrien Willien told MintPress. “We are for Haitians putting their heads together.”

​“We don’t want any foreign intervention to come resolve our problems for us,” echoed Ernst C. Denoir. “On the contrary, that would be pouring gas on the fire, making the situation worse.”

Contrary to the claims of self-appointed spokesman for the Haitain people Max Boot and his fellow neoconservative ideologues at The Washington Post, not a single Haitian with whom MintPress News spoke agreed. In fact, many were outraged at the suggestion and hold the United States responsible for the current violence and dysfunction plaguing Haiti.

“The insecurity you see here is programmed by the oligarchy and the imperialists,” thundered Denoir.

Meanwhile, thousands of Haitians turned out on Friday, July 23 for Moïse’s state funeral in Cap Haïtien, the capital of the northern department where he was raised. Many hurled curses at the U.S. delegation — which included U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison, and was headed by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield — as it approached the funeral’s stage. The U.S. delegation fled the ceremony before it was over, when police fired warning shots and tear-gas to repel angry crowds wanting to enter the ceremony or stop it until the intellectual authors of the assassination are found.

​Despite its claims to have no plans “for now” to invade Haiti, the U.S. has appointed a Special Envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, and will begin advising the Haitian National Police (PNH) in “anti-gang fighting,” Haitilibre reported July 24.

​U.S. troops, backed by those from France and Canada, last invaded Haiti immediately following the February 29, 2004 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As was done after their 1994 intervention, they handed the ensuing military occupation of Haiti over to a United Nations “peace-keeping” force after three months. UN forces occupied Haiti for the next 15 years.

​The troop deployment violated Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which specifies that the Security Council can use force only “to maintain or restore international peace and security” (i.e., in a conflict between two states), not to meddle in an internal political conflict. The Haitian Constitution also forbids foreign troops on Haitian soil.

​The 2004 intervention began on February 28 when a SEAL team, led by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Louis Moreno, surrounded Aristide’s home, then threatened and browbeat the president into boarding an unmarked jet, which whisked him away to Africa. Aristide later called the abduction a “modern kidnapping.”

​“We remember that the U.S. came and took our charismatic leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,” in 2004, recalled Willien. “That coup d’état is the cause of the state we are in today.”

“The U.S. betrayed the Haitian people when it kidnapped Aristide,” Willien concluded.

The bitter taste of past military interventions and occupations informs the almost universal Haitian public opinion against another U.S. incursion.

Featured photo: A protester holds up a sign during a protest to demand the resignation of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.  ( AP Photo/ Dieu Nalio Chery)

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines and MintPress News. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post Exclusive: Haitians Reject Calls For US Military Intervention appeared first on MintPress News.

Dan Cohen on the Israeli Operatives Behind some of Colombia’s Most Violent Death Squads

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/06/2021 - 11:30pm in

Colombia is regularly described as the Israel of Latin America. Although on opposite sides of the world from each other, the two countries share many similarities. They are both key outposts of U.S. power in their regions, helping make their neighborhood safe for American businesses and American profits. Both governments are carrying out wars against indigenous populations. Both talk of a “peace process” with their enemies but neither seems to get any closer to a lasting agreement. And both smear those enemies as terrorists.

Violence in both nations has made worldwide headlines of late. In Colombia, President Ivan Duque’s attempts to push through an economic shock therapy package consisting of privatizing the country’s pension and healthcare systems, reducing the minimum wage, and increasing taxes on basic necessities sent millions into the streets in a nationwide general strike.

Duque has responded with an iron fist, sending first armed police and then the military into the streets to quell the protests. According to local human rights group Indepaz, 71 people have been killed, as armored cars fill the streets and drones and helicopters terrorize strikers from above.

Meanwhile, in Israel, security forces attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as worshippers were celebrating Ramadan at the third holiest site in Islam. The attack drew a response from Hamas, which began firing rockets into Israel, which, in turn, led to a massive Israeli reaction, with the IDF pounding much of Gaza into rubble. Hundreds of people were killed, thousands injured, and tens of thousands fled their homes. Among the buildings targeted were schools, a COVID-19 test center, and the headquarters of international media organizations.

Unusually, Israeli actions drew criticism from the centers of power in the United States, with senior politicians and media figures alike condemning the attack and using words like “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” — a signal that perhaps a change in attitude is beginning to take place and real change could be around the corner.

Last week, MintPress also revealed how Israel is helping Colombia repress its citizens, providing arms and training to security services.

Yet a new investigation from our guest today has highlighted how the links between Israel and Colombia go far deeper and how Israeli officials were the masterminds of political massacres carried out by the Colombian government.

Dan Cohen’s new work shows how the Colombian government’s genocidal policy of massacring its political opponents — over 4,000 members of the Patriotic Union Party, including two presidential candidates, 14 parliamentarians, 15 mayors, nine mayoral candidates, three members of the House of Representatives and three senators — was done on the suggestion of an Israeli official, Rafael ‘Rafi’ Eitan. Eitan was employed by the government to advise it on counterinsurgency strategies.

Another Israeli, Yair Klein, provided the training for many of the most notorious far-right paramilitary groups, including the AUC, thought to have been responsible for around 80% of the killings during the civil war. The leader of the AUC, Carlos Castaño, was educated in Israel and credited the aprtheid state for teaching him all he knew about terrorism. “I learned an infinity of themes in Israel,” he wrote in his autobiography.

Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker in Washington, D.C. with Behind the Headlines, a new viewer-supported investigative journalism series. Dan has also contributed to a wide range of news outlets, including Al-Jazeera, Alternet, The Grayzone and RT. His film, “Killing Gaza,” explores Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israeli assault on the highly populated strip. His latest article, which is discussed today, is called “New Investigation Reveals Role of Israeli Operatives in Colombia’s ‘Political Genocide.’”

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube.

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

The post Dan Cohen on the Israeli Operatives Behind some of Colombia’s Most Violent Death Squads appeared first on MintPress News.

New Investigation Reveals Role of Israeli Operatives in Colombia’s “Political Genocide”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/06/2021 - 6:30am in

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — On April 6, 1984, a group of men dressed in police uniforms arrived at the home of Milcíades Contento in the town of Viotá, Colombia. Contento was a peasant, communist and member of the Patriotic Union (UP), a newly-formed experimental political party born out of the 1985 peace negotiations between the conservative President Belansio Betancourt and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The men seized Contento, tied him up and dragged him away. The next day, his corpse was found in a nearby village.

The murder of Milcíades Contento marked the beginning of a nearly two-decade extermination campaign. From 1984-2002, at least 4,153 UP members – including two presidential candidates, 14 parliamentarians, 15 mayors, nine mayoral candidates, three members of the House of Representatives and three senators – were murdered or dissapeared, in what a Colombian court deemed was a “political genocide.” According to data presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the purge claimed more than 6,000 victims through murders, disappearances, torture, forced displacement and other human rights violations. From May 1984 to December 2002, not a month passed without a murder or disappearance of a UP member. In the 2002 elections that brought Álvaro Uribe to power, the Patriotic Union had been so thoroughly wiped out that it failed to meet the electoral threshold and the government removed the party’s legal status.

According to a recent investigation by renowned Colombian journalist Alberto Donadio, the extermination of the Patriotic Union was devised by Betancourt’s successor, President Virgilio Barco Vargas, implementing a plan concocted by of one of the most decorated spies in Israeli history, Rafael ‘Rafi’ Eitan.

The revelations underscore the pivotal relationship that has developed between Israel and Colombia – the United States’ respective top allies in the Middle East and Latin America. Both countries are testing grounds for military weapons and strategies that have long been exported around the world. Following the success of the U.S. government’s Plan Colombia in debilitating the FARC guerrilla movement, it has been hailed as an exportable counterinsurgency model to be applied from Mexico to Afghanistan. Israel, for its part, maintains the world’s largest repression- and weapons-testing laboratories in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where it has a captive population of several millions Palestinians.

Through the presence of Rafi Eitan in Colombia, the burgeoning alliance of junior partners of the U.S. empire deepened. Despite a series of scandals, the Israel-Colombia relationship has only grown stronger over the years. Under President Iván Duque, the two countries have renewed ties and Israeli military personnel have trained their Colombian counterparts in “counter-terrorism.”

Yet the systematic murder of the UP remains one of the most extreme cases of political violence in Latin America. The scale of killing is especially striking because, unlike many of the bloodiest U.S.-backed regimes of the 1980s, Colombia never became a dictatorship. The killing of the UP – known among its perpetrators as El Baile Rojo (The Red Dance) – took place in an ostensible “democracy.”

 

‘All intelligence work is a partnership with crime’

Involved in Israeli espionage since the estalbishment of the state, Eitan is primarily remembered for capturing the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. However, he also played a central role in several of the Mossad’s most unsavory operations. “All intelligence work is a partnership with crime. Morals are put aside,” Eitan once remarked.

In 1965, Eitan advised Moroccan King Hassan II on how to abduct and murder the leftist politician Mehdi Ben Barka.

During a 1983 Mossad mission in the United States, he disguised himself as an assistant prosecutor in the Israeli Ministry of Justice and met with the inventor of the PROMIS surveillance software. After a visit to the Department of Justice, Eitan obtained the software and had an Israeli working in Silicon Valley install a backdoor in the program. Fellow Mossad agent Robert Maxwell, (father of Ghislaine Maxwell, the notorious child sex trafficker and partner-in-crime of Jeffrey Epstein), sold the PROMIS technology to dozens of countries around the world, including Colombia. This gave Israel unfettered access to intelligence the program collected in every country using it, friend and foe alike.

Israel spies

Eitan, center, speaks with Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders at an Knesset exhibition about his life. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

In 1985, Eitan initiated a spying operation on Israel’s top ally, the United States. Eitan’s team recruited Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish-American Naval Intelligence Service analyst, who went on to deliver 800 classified military intelligence documents relating to military capabilities of Arab states, Pakistan and the Soviet Union. Seymour Hersh reported that the documents on U.S. intelligence capabilities were passed on to the Soviet Union in exchange for release of Soviet Jewry.

According to a declassified CIA damage assessment, Eitan urged Pollard to obtain material on signals intelligence and “dirt on Israeli political figures, any information that would identify Israeli officials who were providing information to the United States, and any information on U.S. intelligence operations targeted against Israel.”  According to a court document, Pollard refused some of Eitan’s requests “because he suspected that Eitan would use such studies for improper political blackmail.”

The discovery of the spying operation landed Pollard in prison. U.S. federal prosecutors named Eitan as one of four co-conspirators but declined to file charges. With Eitan at the center of a national embarrassment, he returned to Israel, never to set foot again in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Eitan’s elite status ensured he landed in a comfortable position. In the 1970s, he had served as deputy to Ariel Sharon, then national security advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Sharon, then a general in the army, arranged for Eitan to be appointed as president of Israel Chemicals, the largest state-owned company in the country. This new position left Eitan with ample free time to leverage his experience in black ops into a position as a clandestine national security adviser to Colombia’s president, Virgilio Barco Vargas. With the Patriotic Union beginning to coalesce into a formidable political party, Barco looked for any way to stop them. And Eitan’s lifetime of experience waging war against the Palestinian peasant population made him the perfect man for the job.

 

Eitan goes to Colombia

In 1985, Colombian President Belisario Betancourt and the FARC rebels negotiated a peace accord to end nearly three decades of armed conflict. The agreement formalized the creation of the Patriotic Union and saw ex-guerrillas join with communists, trade unionists, communal action boards and leftwing intellectuals to form a party that would integrate the FARC into the electoral political system. As negotiations were underway, Patriotic Union members were being killed. In May 1986, Liberal Party leader Virgilio Barco won the presidency. Shortly after he took office, the pace of assassinations of UP members skyrocketed. A whopping 400 members were assassinated in the first 14 months of his term.

According to an investigation by Donadio, Barco secretly brought the veteran Mossad agent Rafi Eitan to Colombia on August 7, 1986, seeking advice on how to defeat the FARC. After an initial clandestine meeting in Colombia’s presidential palace, Eitan spent months touring the country with Colombian advisors, secretly funded by the Colombian energy giant Ecopetrol.

During the second meeting, President Barco explained Eitan’s recommendation to Secretary General Germán Montoya and a figure from the high military command present. Eitan even offered to preside over the killings himself in exchange for another honorarium, but the military commander rejected his offer, insisting that an all-Colombian force carry it out

For decades, Eitan’s role in the Colombian genocide sat in plain sight, even as his presence flew under the media’s radar. The February 1, 1987 edition of the Colombian newspaper El Espectador featured a buried report on the hiring of Eitan, noting he was brought in for his expertise in “counterinsurgency.”  In 1989, veteran journalists Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv reported in The Washington Post that the Israeli had been hired as a national security advisor to Colombia’s government.

Colombia Paramilitaries Israel

A now-buried report from the Feb, 1987 edition of the Spanish language El Espectador on the hiring of Eitan

When Donadio began searching for documentation of Eitan’s role, he found a memo and contract draft with an Israeli security firm called “Ktalav Promotion and Investment Ltd” in the files of Barco’s legal secretary, Fernán Bejarano Arias, who is today the vice president of legal affairs at Ecopetrol. The document valued the deal at almost $1 million, including a fee of $535,714, which covered “up to 50 tickets for air transport purposes, round trip, on the Tel Aviv-Bogotá route,” amnog other expenses. The memo indicates that portions of the contract were agreed upon with the lawyer Ernesto Villamizar Cajiao.

When Donadio contacted Villamizar and asked him about the contract with KPI, though not mentioning the Mossad spy’s name, Villamizar answered him with a question. “Rafi Eitan?”

While Eitan sought to keep his activities in Colombia discreet, a profile in the Israeli magazine Makor Rishon revealed that he played a central role in the March 1989 purchase of 20 Israeli Kfir fighter jets. Eitan “organized a visit by top army brass from Colombia – a visit which was followed by the Colombians ordering many things from the [Israeli] air force, and it brought Israel much benefit – but he himself was not permitted to participate in the meeting.” Following the purchase, Colombia sent several pilots to Israel for training. The jets were flown in numerous operations against the FARC over three subsequent decades.

 

Yair Klein arrives in Colombia

For Colombians, a different Israeli is well-known for his role in the death squad rampages that have plagued the country since the 1980s. While Eitan was advising President Barco, an Israeli mercenary named Yair Klein arrived in Colombia and began training narco-paramilitaries in how to defeat the FARC insurgency.

A retired military officer, Klein started a mercenary firm called Hod Hahanit (Spearhead) in 1984, drawing from the pools of former Israeli police and special operations units.

Israel spies

Yair Klein appears in n Israeli court in 1989. Rachamim Shaul | The National Library of Israel

According to the book All Is Clouded by Desire: Global Banking, Money Laundering, and International Organized Crime, the mercenary outfit struck its first deal amid the civil war in Lebanon, supplying the notoriously brutal Christian Phalangist militias – the same force that massacred between 800 and 3,500 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps under direct Israeli military supervision in September 1982.

In 1987, Klein landed in Colombia to meet with Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Yithzakh Shoshani and Arik Afek, both of whom had established themselves years before with lucrative deals selling military equipment in Colombia. Shoshani subsequently became the main conduit between Klein and his Colombian customers.

In 1990, Afek’s decomposing body was found with multiple gunshot wounds in the trunk of a car at Miami International Airport after a pedestrian noticed the odor. He was reportedly being investigated by the CIA and was wanted by Colombian authorities.

Klein told me in a telephone interview that he was working through the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the state-owned weapons manufacturer, Israel Military Industries (IMI), which had a contract with a Colombian data surveillance company obtained through Colombia’s Ministry of Defense. He said he was originally hired to provide security for the banana-growing operations in the region of Uraba, where the American fruit company Chiquita had paid millions of dollars to Colombian death squads.

Shoshani, he explained, worked for a company called AMKAN, which is a subsidiary of IMI. The Colombian Federation of Cattlemen, long known for its ties to paramilitaires, contacted Shoshani to have Eitan train a force to fight guerrillas.

With Shoshani guiding him, Klein returned to Israel in 1988 and met with top paramilitary and military figures as well as wealthy businessmen. All of this, Klein assured me, was done with the full knowledge of the Israeli government. “You can’t do anything without permission from the Ministry of Defense,” he said.

Klein’s statement upends the claim of then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Israeli Defense Ministry had denied Klein’s company a license and warned him to leave the country.

 

Death squad leader: ‘I learned an infinity of themes in Israel’

Klein held three training sessions, each for around 30 people. Assisting him were three trainers, all of whom were colonels in the Israeli army: Tzadaka Abraham, Teddy Melnik and Amatzia Shuali.

Klein trained brothers Carlos and Fidel Castaño, the squad leaders who would go on to form the notoriously violent United Self-Defense Forces, known in Spanish by its acronym, AUC. Under the patronage of wealthy landowners, drug lords, ranchers, politicians and the Colombian military, the AUC committed bloodcurdling massacres all over the country, even using chainsaws to murder and dismember peasants, all aimed at terrorizing communities into fleeing from their land. The United Nations estimated in 2016 that the AUC was responsible for 80% of the deaths in the conflict.

Eventually Carlos Castaño was killed, allegedly by his brother Vicente, another powerful paramilitary leader. And, though the AUC officially demobilized in 2007, the paramilitaries soon enough were reconfigured under various banners and new formations, remaining closely linked to the state and business interests.

Colombia Paramilitaries Israel

Members of the Isaeli-trained AUC attend a 2005 demobilization ceremony in Cristales, Colombia. Luis Benavides | AP

But Israel’s influence in Colombia’s death squads is not only through Klein’s training. In his autobiography, AUC founder Carlos Castaño wrote that he had studied from 1983-1984 in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and in Israeli military schools. Castaño described the training in advanced weaponry and tactics he received that would become the basis of Colombian paramiltarism’s war against farmers:

I received instruction in urban strategies, how to protect oneself, how to kill someone or what to do when someone is trying to kill you. …We learned how to stop an armored car and use fragmentation grenades to enter a target. We practiced with multiple grenade launchers, and learned how to make accurate shots with RPG-7s, or shoot a cannon shell through a window.”

Castaño also “received lectures on how the world arms business operates, and how to buy arms.”

In addition to the military training he received, Castaño credits his time in Israel with revolutionizing his entire worldview. During that period, the soon-to-be mass-murderer became an ardent admirer of Zionism and became convinced it was possible to stamp out the insurgency at home in Colombia:

I admire the Jews for their bravery in confronting anti-Semitism, their strategy for survival in the diaspora, the surety of their Zionism, their mysticism, their religion, and above all for their nationalism… I learned an infinity of themes in Israel and [to] that country I owe a part of my culture, my achievements both human and military, and while I repeat myself, I did not learn only about military training in Israel.

It was there that I became convinced that it was possible to defeat the guerrillas in Colombia. I began to see how a people could defend itself from the whole world. I understood how to get someone involved who had something to lose in a war, by making such a person the enemy of my enemies. In fact, the idea of “autodefensa” [self-defense] weapons I copied from the Israelis; every citizen of that country is a potential soldier.”

Klein also trained Jaime Eduardo Rueda Rocha, who in 1989 assassinated Liberal Party presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, the overwhelming favorite to win the upcoming election. Not only had Klein trained the killer, but the weapon Rueda used was part of a shipment Klein orchestrated of 500 Israeli-manufactured machine guns from Miami to the Medellin drug cartel, according to a 1989 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report.  (In 2016, Miguel Alfredo Maza Márquez, head of Colombia’s then Administrative Department of Security (DAS), was convincted of participation in the plot to murder Galán and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He has since testified that top-ranking members of the military plotted Galan’s assassiation.)

As the revelations that a military reserve officer had been training death squads created an international scandal, the Israeli government filed charges, convicting Klein of illegally exporting weapons and military expertise.

In 2001, the Colombian government tried Klein in absentia, sentencing him to eleven years in prison. In 2007, Klein was arrested in Moscow on a warrant issued by Interpol, and spent three years in prison. Colombia sought his extradition, but in November 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Colombia could not guarantee his physical safety. The Russian government complied with the ECHR’s ruling and released Klein, allowing him to return to Israel. Colombia has since requested his extradition, but the Israeli government has refused.

Klein’s company, Hod Hahanit, remains active to this day.

 

A joint effort?

While Donadio’s groundbreaking investigation has created a controversy in Colombia, it does not answer whether Rafi Eitan and Yair Klein’s simultaneous and respective operations advising the government and death squads were a joint effort or merely coincidental.

For his part, the lawyer Ernesto Villamizar told Donadio that Eitan and Klein had nothing to do with each other.

Klein corroborated his claim, saying that he was unaware of any of Eitan’s activities in Colombia.

However, an AP article references an Israeli media report that Rafi Eitan (spelled Eytan in the article) was in Colombia at the same time as Klein and left days before the gunman armed and trained by Klein murdered presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán:

It [the media report] said Rafael Eytan, an Israeli counterterrorism expert, denied suggestions that he was a consultant to Israeli companies operating in Colombia and said he had cut all business ties to that country.

According to the report, Eytan confirmed he flew to Colombia a week ago for private reasons.

Download the PDF file .

Beyond the vague suggestion of that article, there is no evidence of a connection between Eitan and Klein. In some ways, it is even more remarkable that two Israelis advising Colombian government in mass-murder of its political opponents were operating independent from and unbeknownst to each other.

 

Israel-Colombia relations cool

After the fallout of Israelis training Colombian paramilitaries, the relationship between the two top U.S. allies cooled, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. But as Plan Colombia was implemented, Israel and Colombia once again ramped up collaboration.

In December 2006, Colombia’s Ministry of Defense hired another private Israeli security company known as Global CST to “help the GOC [Government of Colombia] conduct a strategic assessment of the internal conflict.” Global CST is headed by Israel Ziv, a career officer who, like Yair Klein, leveraged his military experience into a profitable career advising and training despots around the world.

“General Ziv was a personal acquaintance of then-Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos,” the cable notes. William Brownfield, then U.S. ambassador to Colombia commented that “Ziv worked his way into the confidence of former Defense Minister Santos by promising a cheaper version of USG [United States government] assistance without our strings attached.”

Under Santos, Colombia sought to purchase Israel’s Hermes-450, a drone under development in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in wars against neighboring Lebanon.

However, according to the diplomatic cable, Tel Aviv-Bogota relations again soured after it emerged that Global CST interpreter and Argentine-born Israeli national Shai Killman “had made copies of classified Colombian Defense Ministry documents in an unsuccessful attempt to sell them to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.” These documents contained “high value target (HVT) database information” – a reference to the FARC leadership the CIA assisted the Colombian government in assassinating. The resulting fallout, combined with pressure from the U.S., compelled Colombia to cancel the contract to buy Israeli drones.

Despite the strains in the decades-old relationship, the two countries have maintained strong ties. In 2016, then-Israeli Ambassador to Colombia Marco Sermoneta boasted that Colombia is the top recipient of Israeli aid.

The following year, as the extermination of social leaders and ex-combatants began, Israeli military advisors visited Colombian military bases to give training courses in “security.”

 

Genocide redux

President Ivan Duque, the handpicked successor of far-right former President Álvaro Uribe, has worked assiduously to shore up Colombia’s ties with Israel. In March 2020, he appeared at the American Israel Political Action Conference, boasting about his ties with Israel. Months later, Duque and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the launch of the Israel-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile, Duque has undermined and attacked the landmark 2016 peace accord at every turn, while turning a blind eye to the mass-murder of demobilized FARC guerrillas, trade unionists, human rights defenders, environmental activists and social leaders – a scenario eerily reminiscent of the political genocide of the Patriotic Union. Rather than a veteran spy advising the Colombian government, Israel now has an official presence. In January 2020, Israeli military Brigadier General Dan Glodfus visited a Colombian military base to reinforce ties between the two countries. Amid a spate of massacres in September 2020, Israel dispatched 10 instructors to train Colombian Special Forces in “counter-terrorism.”

With the recent assassination of Francisco Giacometto Gómez, an elder activist and founding member of the Patriotic Union, it seems that the campaign against the UP and the current slaughter are indistinguishable.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post New Investigation Reveals Role of Israeli Operatives in Colombia’s “Political Genocide” appeared first on MintPress News.

The Decline of Colombia’s Centaur State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/06/2021 - 11:50pm in

Photo credit: “Paro Nacional, Primera Línea Bogotá, May 28” – courtesy of Maria Paula Betancourt García _____ On April 28,...

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Birds of a Fascist Feather: Why Israel Is Aiding Colombia’s Crackdown on Protesters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/05/2021 - 6:59am in

BOGOTA — For exactly one month now, a nationwide strike has crippled Colombia and has been met with deadly repression by the far-right government of Ivan Duque. As trade unions have shut down major cities, halting mass transit and bringing economic gridlock to the country, government forces have responded with violence. According to government figures, at least 44 people have been killed in protests that began on April 28. A further 500 people have been “disappeared,” more than 100 shot with live fire, and at least 28 have been wounded in the eye by police, the notorious ESMAD riot squad, or by paramilitary organizations linked to the state.

The crackdown on dissent is being abetted by the Israeli government, which itself is dealing with widespread economic, military and social revolt from its captive Palestinian population. Outside of the United States, Israel is the Colombian military and paramilitaries’ chief weapons supplier, and the Colombian police and army have been putting their Israeli training and weapons to use against their own domestic revolt.

The state has essentially declared war on the citizenry, turning streets and neighborhoods into battlefields in an attempt to push through President Duque’s highly controversial neoliberal policies that would eliminate public healthcare, privatize pensions, reduce the minimum wage and levy a 19% tax on staple foods, moves which critics deem an all-out attack on Colombia’s working-class majority. The president is showing no sign of backing down, despite his approval rating slumping to 18%— an all-time low for Colombian heads of state.

 

Military connections

Pictures circulating on social media show government forces using Israeli weapons against protestors, while Israeli-made Sand Cat armored vehicles are on the streets of Colombia’s major cities. The standard issue rifles for all branches of the military and the police are Israeli; the Army uses the IMI Galil, Special Forces use the IWI Tavor, while the Air Force, Navy, and police favor the IWI Ace.

Embedded below is an image of Colombian police using the Israeli-made Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle on the streets.

https://twitter.com/DonPornHoli0/status/1389630131342282753

Duque has sent the army into many of Colombia’s largest cities to deal with the national strike, a decision condemned by human rights groups. These forces have been trained in “counterterrorism and combat techniques” by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attachés to share their expertise in crushing domestic resistance. Thus, any Palestinians who dropped into Colombia right now might feel an eerie sense of familiarity with what is going on.

“Private Israeli military contractors are heavily involved with the Colombian military in terms of military training, the conduct of counter-insurgency operations, intelligence gathering, targeted assassinations, cross-border military interventions into states like Venezuela, alongside hybrid warfare in general, and more. As the second most important military partner after the U.S.A., Israel can be characterized as a key supporter of Colombia’s proven record of state terrorism,” Oliver Dodd told MintPress by phone from Bogota. Dodd is a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Nottingham covering the Colombian Civil War.

Israeli drones have also been spotted in the skies over Colombia, as the government uses them for surveillance and military intelligence. AMnetpro SAS, a company started by two Israeli businessmen, also provides facial recognition and other security technology to Colombian forces.

Perhaps most worryingly, Israel has also directly trained far-right paramilitary groups responsible for much of the worst terror inside the country over the past half-century. Carlos Castaño, commander of the AUC, perhaps the most notorious and remorseless of them all, traveled to Israel to study and was trained by infamous Israeli mercenary and former IDF Lieutenant Colonel Yair Klein, who claims that he was invited to Colombia to train the national police. Dodd explained the attraction of using Israeli knowhow for the Colombian government:

IDF veterans are also heavily involved in Colombia’s conflict. The Colombian state relies on these Israeli mercenaries — called ‘private military contractors’ by apologists — a lot in the sense that they are recruited to import their vast counter-insurgency expertise developed in the fight against Palestinians. The fact that these mercenaries are not technically members of Colombia’s Armed Forces and do not wear the official uniforms of the military, allows them to lend the state plausible deniability for crimes of aggression against the revolutionary movement and other progressive forces.”

So normalized have Israeli mercenaries become in Colombian society that, while president Juan Manuel Santos appeared in an advertisement for Israeli mercenary firm Global CST. “They are people with a lot of experience. They have been helping us to work better,” he states.



 

Political ties

Palestine also has connections to Latin America, and the Palestinian community there has done well for itself. In recent times, a number of Palestinians have risen to high office across the region, including Carlos Roberto Flores, President of Honduras from 1998 to 2002, Antonio Saca, President of El Salvador from 2004 to 2009 and Yehude Simon, Prime Minister of Peru from 2008 to 2009.

As the continent moved leftwards in the 2000s, almost the entire region began to recognize Palestine as an independent state. For years, Colombia was the sole South American holdout, only doing so in 2018.

Yet, at the same time, President Duque was making it clear where he stood. Last year he spoke at AIPAC, America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby group, where he announced that Colombia would open an “innovation office” in occupied Jerusalem, one step away from defying international law by moving the Colombian embassy there. He has also denounced a supposed Hezbollah presence in neighboring Venezuela, designating the Lebanese group and Israeli military foe a terrorist organization — a move likely more to do with garnering friends than genuine security fears.

Throughout this latest bombardment of Gaza, an action which has left around 250 in the strip dead, nearly 2,000 wounded and tens of thousands displaced, the Colombian government has stood side-by-side with its ally, condemning the firing of rockets into Israel. “Colombia expresses its deep concern over the terrorist acts and attacks against Israel and expresses its solidarity with the victims of these actions,” it wrote. There was no rebuke of the far more deadly Israeli missiles hitting Gaza.

 

A cycle of dependency

The burgeoning political alliance has brought with it deepening economic ties. In 2013, the two nations signed a free trade agreement. “This is a historic moment in the relationship between the State of Israel and the Republic of Colombia,” announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “These decisions create a platform of cooperation between us that will bring our partnership, our friendship, our brotherhood…to new political and economic levels.”

For the most part, trade between the two states consists of Israeli weaponry and know-how going to Colombia in exchange for the South American nation’s mineral reserves. In 2011, military-grade arms comprised 49.6% of all Israeli exports to Colombia. Coal makes up around 89% of what goes back the other way. The rest is primarily agricultural produce (coffee, fruit, sugar, etc.).

Colombia’s mineral wealth is only exploitable after a decades-long push by the military and associated paramilitaries to clear black and indigenous people off their valuable land, making way for transnational agribusiness and energy corporations to set up shop. Israeli weaponry and technical advice have been crucial in achieving this. As a result, Israel is able to reap some of the benefits, keeping the lights on at home thanks to cheap Colombian coal in a deal that benefits them and big business but hurts the people and contributes to ethnic cleansing on both sides of the world.

 

“Key outposts of U.S. power”

Colombia and Israel are the U.S.’ most favored allies in their respective regions. Israel receives billions of dollars in military aid yearly, weapons which it often tests on civilian Palestinian populations and can thereafter be sold at arms fairs worldwide as “battle tested.”

Likewise, Colombia receives enormous sums of free American weapons (over $461 million worth in 2021) mainly under the guise of the discredited War on Drugs. Plan Colombia — the militarization of the drug war in Latin America — is most associated with the Bush administration. However, the brains of the operation was actually Joe Biden. “I’m the guy who put together Plan Colombia…straighten[ing] that government out for a long while,” he bragged last year. While in office, Biden plans to expand his policy from Colombia to Central America.

Neither Israel nor Colombia’s most recent repression has drawn censure from the Biden administration, with the president immediately announcing that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” as it was pummelling civilian targets in Gaza. Likewise, there has been no official word from Washington on the Colombian government’s deadly crackdown on protesters. Indeed, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with his Colombian counterpart Diego Molano earlier this week, where he “expressed his commitment to strengthening our defense relationship” in his own words.

“Israel and Colombia are key outposts of U.S. empire and as such are permitted to terrorize civilian populations in the name of fighting terror,” said Belén Fernández, a journalist who covers Middle East-Latin America relations closely. “The two states are firmly bound to the U.S. and each other in what amounts to a military-economic ménage à trois predicated on the perpetuation of insecurity, forced displacement, and right-wing tyranny,” she added.

Colombia Israel

Israel’s Shimon Peres, left, and Colombia’s Juan Santos smile at Israeli soldiers durizzng a ceremony in Jerusalem, June 10, 2013. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

MintPress also spoke with Manuel Rozental, a physician and longtime activist living in Cauca, where the recent repression has been most extreme. Rozental saw a number of parallels between Israel and Colombia.

“At the moment there is an uprising in Colombia from people fed up with a regime that only exploits and resorts to violence and force. The same is happening in Gaza,” he said.

In both cases, the U.S. either says nothing or it presents both sides as part of a process of polarization to cover up the fact there is one illegitimate regime suppressing and oppressing people. None of this violence in Colombia would be taking place if not for the support of the U.S. and its corporate interests. And such is the case as well in Israel.”

Colombia’s role in the system is distinctly similar to that of Israel’s, being the United States’ chief lieutenant in the region, attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, or any of its other progressive neighbors. It is also the chief location for American military bases in the area. For Rozental, the parallels between Colombia and the Israel-Palestine situation are “obvious”:

Israel spearheads U.S. interests in the Middle East in exchange for massive funding for the government for support for an increasingly fascist regime under the control of Benjamin Netanyahu as a strongman, like [former] President Uribe is in Colombia. This model generates enormous amounts of money for the U.S. military industry and transformed Israel into both a military superpower and a producer and exporter of security of war throughout the Middle East and the world.”

Protestors in both countries are being hit with tear gas that comes from the same Pennsylvania-based arms maker supplying both regimes. Both nations are also willing to do the dirty work that the United States would rather not get caught doing. Israel, for instance, became the main supplier of weapons to the Chilean fascist dictatorship under General Pinochet after public pressure forced the U.S. government to suspend military aid. It also supplied an estimated 95% of all arms to the pro-U.S. Argentinian military junta while it was in power (1976-1983).

Meanwhile, increased scrutiny of American training of tens of thousands of Latin American police and military officers in the tactics of repression has made the U.S. less keen to continue the practice, especially as many of the graduates of the infamous School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, have now been found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Evan King, Colombia Program Director for the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective in Bogota, told MintPress:

Colombia is the Israel of South America because they have started to export these tactics throughout the region. The U.S. loves this, the offshoring of indoctrinating military forces abroad. They don’t have to do it because the Colombians now do it. So you see Colombian forces training Honduran, Salvadoran or Mexican police. Most recently, you saw Colombian special forces going to Haiti to train Haitian security forces, who are now also gunning down protestors in the streets.”

 

Settler colonial states

The phrase “the Israel of Latin America” was originally an epithet against Colombia by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, highlighting how Colombia is a tool of American imperialism. However, former Colombian President Santos appropriated it as a compliment, declaring his people honorary Israelites, noting their similarities.

The two states are indeed far more similar than many realize. They are both highly militarized governments conducting seemingly endless wars against their indigenous populations, all the while using the rhetoric of pursuing a “peace process” which never seems to bring peace.

Likewise, both governments smear their opponents as “terrorists.” In Colombia, it is trade unions, leftist guerilla groups and indigenous and social leaders; in Israel, it is doctors, journalists and the Palestinian population more generally. Thus, essentially anyone standing in their way can be designated a terrorist and therefore, becomes a legitimate target.


Protesters block the entry of an Israeli Sand Cat, the same variety sold to Colombia, to a UK arms fair. Mark Kerrison | Alamy

“The kind of peace that the Israeli government would like is one where they could do whatever they wanted with the land and never give it back. And there is a similar approach to the conflict that continues here [in Colombia]. The government is in favor of the peace process, but mainly as a tool to open the country up to foreign investment,” King said, adding:

That’s where I think Colombia and Israel are very similar; counterinsurgency is no longer a tactic or a strategy to deal with a threat, but it is a way of governing and a reason for the state. The state is no longer to provide social services or guarantee people’s rights, but to protect against an internal enemy at all times and at all costs.”

The Colombian government under Duque’s mentor Alvaro Uribe oversaw a longstanding series of extrajudicial murders and massacres that resulted in as many as 10,000 deaths. Dubbed the “False Positives Scandal,” government forces would murder anyone they wished, later claiming their victims were members of narcoterrorist organizations. This allowed the government to eliminate opposition to it and intimidate other would-be foes into silence. This is why it was particularly notable when, last year, Prime Minister Netanyahu applauded Duque, stating: “Ivan, your leadership in the fight against terrorism sets an example for the rest of Latin America.” One week after the current protests were launched, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano stated that the country “faces the terrorist threat of criminal organizations.”

Both governments are also carrying out what amounts to settler colonial projects. In Colombia, it is a decidedly white elite attempting to clear the land of indigenous and Afro-Colombian farmers to make way for multinational corporations, while in Israel, it is the construction of a Jewish supremacist state on top of an already existing Palestinian one. Almost unknown in the West is the scale of the violence in Colombia; the United Nations estimates that there are currently 7.4 million displaced Colombians, a figure larger than even the highest estimates of Palestinian refugees.

“The treatment of indigenous and Afro-Colombians by the central government is as second-class citizens. They don’t really give them rights. It is not a formal thing, but if you go to black majority cities like port city Buenaventura, the difference is stark,” King said. “The way people are living there is, I assume, closer to the conditions in Gaza than in the rest of Colombia. There is no formal apartheid regime but it is clear that the whole point is for them to leave the land and create such extreme economic and humanitarian hardship that they will just depopulate the land themselves, without the need of force.”

 

Israel across Latin America

Throughout Latin America, Israel is a partisan issue. While leftist movements the continent over have offered their support to the Palestinians, seeing their struggle against imperialism as intertwined with theirs, the right have taken up Israel as their cause.

In 2010, President Chavez offered his full support towards Palestinian independence. “From the bottom of my soul, damn you, state of Israel! Terrorists and assassins! Long live the Palestinian people” he said. Four years later, in the wake of another Israeli attack on Gaza, Bolivian President Evo Morales formally declared Israel a “terrorist state.”

Almost as soon as Morales was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup in 2019, the new, far-right government re-established ties with the Middle Eastern state and immediately invited IDF officials to the country to help deal with the nationwide protests against the coup. “We’ve invited them to help us. They’re used to dealing with terrorists. They know how to handle them,” new Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said of his guests. Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed his satisfaction that a new “friendly government” had taken charge in Bolivia. In Venezuela, one of the first things Juan Guaidó did after he announced himself president of the country was to reveal he is working on renormalizing relations with Israel.

In Brazil, far-right president Jair Bolsonaro seems almost obsessed with Israel, so much so that he is rarely to be seen at a rally without multiple Israeli flags nearby. The 66-year-old former army officer also opened a trade office in Jerusalem and hinted that the embassy would soon follow. Other right-wing states such as Honduras have promised to do the same. Bolsonaro’s children also allowed themselves to be photographed wearing IDF and Mossad shirts. Netanyahu expressed his appreciation, stating that his government had “no better friends than the people and government of Brazil.”

Israel Latin America

Jair Bolsonaro’s sons pictured wearing shirts glorifying the Israeli military. Photo | Twitter

The reason for the preoccupation with Israel across much of the region comes from the rise and power of the conservative Evangelical church. As journalist and ordained minister Chris Hedges explained to MintPress last week, many right-wing Christian prophecies about the end times include the Jews returning to the Holy Land and the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Only then will the righteous ascend to heaven and the damned (including the Jews and other non-believers) be cast into hell. Bolsonaro and other new right leaders draw their most loyal support from these groups.

Israel is also helping to prop up Chile’s beleaguered president Sebastian Piñera amid nationwide protests and widespread contempt, like it did with Pinochet 40 years ago. As Fernández noted, Israel has sold weapons and anti-riot gear to Chile, as well as training their army and police force, know-how that no doubt came in useful while dealing with a national revolt.

 

A better future?

While violence in Colombia and Palestine has captured headlines, there is some hope on the horizon for those suffering in both countries. Polls show that Duque’s government looks weakened as a political force and that former leftist guerilla Gustavo Petro is leagues ahead of his competitors for next year’s presidential election.

Petro lost in 2018, amid threats on his life, widespread vote buying, and rigging, and a generalized threat from far-right paramilitaries promising to kill anyone who dared vote for him. However, Duque’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his all-out push for economic shock therapy has alienated much of his base. If Petro can stay alive until next year — not an easy task for progressive Colombian politicians — victory could be his.

On Palestine too, the mood appears to be shifting. Where once only unquestioning support for Israel was the norm, senior politicians, cable news presenters and columnists have unequivocally denounced Israeli aggression, with many echoing human rights organizations in labeling it an apartheid state. The Black Lives Matter movement has offered its support to Palestine, with many elected officials openly linking the violence against Palestinians with the violence against people of color in the United States.

“I rise today in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” began Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-MO) speech in Congress earlier this month, a statement unthinkable just a few years ago. “The equipment that they used to brutalize us [at Ferguson] is the same equipment that we send to the Israeli military and police to terrorize Palestinians,” she added. “The ethnic cleansing continues now,” said Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib at a protest outside the State Department. “What they are doing to the Palestinian people is what they continue to do to our black brothers and sisters here; …it is all interconnected.” With their myriad of links, we should also see the violence against Colombians and Palestinians as interconnected. Perhaps their liberation will be, too.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Birds of a Fascist Feather: Why Israel Is Aiding Colombia’s Crackdown on Protesters appeared first on MintPress News.

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

May 13, 2021 Forrest Hylton on protest and crackdown in Colombia • Jules Gill-Peterson on the reactionary theocratic politics behind the anti-trans bills (Jewish Currents article here)

Meet the Neo-Nazi Advising Colombian Police on How to Break the National Strike

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/05/2021 - 3:36am in



CALI, COLOMBIA (Transcript) — Colombia is on strike. And the police and military are terrorizing the population to crush it.

It kicked on when the far-right president President Ivan Duque announced a wildly unpopular tax reform imposing crushing austerity measures on middle class and poor Colombians. Duque’s proposal aimed to pay off debt in order to project stability and satisfy international investors. But that stability for international capital means more instability for the tens of millions of Colombians struggling to put food on the table.

The country is already in dire economic straits  – 43 percent of Colombians are in poverty and 15 percent are in extreme poverty – all of this has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the tax reform proposal is the trigger for deep discontent.

The injustice for the 6,402 innocent civilians murdered by the military and paramilitaries, then covered up. What’s known as the False Positives scandal.

The Duque government’s attacks on the 2016 peace accord that ended the civil war with the left-wing guerrilla group known as the FARC.

The extermination of social leaders, indigenous leaders, human rights defenders, and ex-FARC combatants.

Mishandling of the COVID 19 pandemic. Sheer corruption and impunity.

 

Neo-nazi advises Colombian forces

All of this frustration was just bubbling beneath the surface, and Duque’s austerity proposal boiled the society over.

Facing this unrest, the Colombian government –  a supposed democracy – is acting much more like a far-right, even fascistic, dictatorship. That’s not hyperbole.

This is the figure that provided the intellectual framework for how Colombian police understand the protests.

Colombia Nazi

Source | Semana

His name is Alexis Lopez Tapia. He’s a former leader of a now-dissolved Chilean neo-fascist party called the New Homeland Society.

Colombia Nazi

Source | La Desdémona Blog

In February, he was invited by the Colombian military to give a presentation on how to defeat an uprising. He describes a pseudo-intellectual framework called “Dissipated Molecular Revolution.”

He describes an intercontinental communist conspiracy that has taken place over the last three-plus decades to take over Latin America in a post-modern framework.

It lumps together protesters, disparate social and indigenous movements, armed groups, human rights NGOs, civil society – anyone who dissents from the politics of the state – as part of a subversive conspiracy that the military is wholly unprepared for.

While this might sound like a crackpot conspiracy theory to the average viewer, it resonated with the most powerful figure in Colombia: former president Alvaro Uribe.

Uribe referenced the neo-fascist Alexis Lopez’s “Dissipated Molecular Revolution” theory on Twitter.

Uribe is the mastermind behind the bloodbath in Colombia. He’s widely known to be a puppet master of the current president, Iván Duque, the figure giving the orders to beat and kill protesters.

 

Colombian police ultra-violence

Here a cop chases down a protester and shoots him point-blank.

After a day of initial protests, Uribe sent out a tweet calling on police and soldiers to use their weapons to “defend their integrity.”

Hours later, after a massive online campaign, Twitter deleted his tweet because it was clear incitement to violence.

But it was too late. Colombian forces clearly understood Uribe’s tweet as a green light, a license to kill. And that’s exactly what they did. Police massacred 7 people in the city of Cali, a hotbed of protests.

 

Duque, Uribe and the narco-state

The U.S. gave these helicopters, free of charge, to Colombia as part of what’s known as Plan Colombia – a massive military aid package that was ostensibly about fighting drug traffickers, but was really about defeating the leftist FARC counterinsurgency and punishing their base of support among peasants in rural areas.

In 2016, the FARC and government made a peace deal, so aside from a few holdouts, the FARC doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, there’s more cocaine coming out of Colombia than ever, and the international drug cartels are more powerful than ever.

They control nearly every aspect of the state, police, and military. How do we know this?

A powerful drug trafficker named Jose Hernandez Aponte AKA ‘El Ñeñe’ coordinated a campaign to buy votes for president Duque using stolen money.

This was ordered by Alvaro Uribe. And the legal system has never brought charges against Duque for this because it’s under his and Uribe’s control.

Ñeñe was close with top figures from the military and police too.  The same state forces that are supposed to be battling drug cartels. This is publicly available information, so the U.S. government knows it, even if the corporate-owned media ignores it.

 

Duque orders full militarization

Colombia is a narco-state posing as a democracy. But with the ultra-violent crackdown on the protests, it’s shedding the “democratic” facade.

After four days of mass mobilizations all over the country, Duque announced the withdrawal of the proposal but said another one would be announced in the coming days, a clear attempt to placate the protesters that failed.

Hours after the announcement, Duque declared he is sending the military to the streets.

“Our military forces, trained to act in urban settings, are supporting the work of the national police,” he declared.

At Duque’s side was the army commander Enrique Zapateiro, a hardline who has been involved in the murder and cover-up of innocent civilians, known to be among the most extreme right-wing elements of the military and an instrument of Uribe.

“A friend of mine who is a psychiatrist and had to interview Zapateiro once told me he is psychotic, he has mental issues,” commented journalist Abeldaro Gomez Molina. “And truth be told you can see some imbalances in his way of thinking which is troubling because he is an instrment of Uribe, so we can only expect the worst from him.”

Soon after, police and military killed two more protesters.

In the city of Cali – where protests have been the biggest –  police shot a young protester named Nicolas Guerrero in the head. A popular Colombian DJ was live streaming from the protest so some 70,000 people watched Guerrero bleed to death. That DJ said his phone, Instagram, and Facebook accounts had been hacked, and his friends and family are receiving strange calls asking for his location, forcing him to flee Cali.

 

Paramilitaries attack protesters

As protesters were being massacred In the city of Pereira, another center of protests, the mayor Carlos Maya called on private security to collaborate with the military and police.

“We will call on all business groups and private security forces to create a united front with the police and military to reestablish order and citizens’ security,” Maya announced.

This is an implicit call for paramilitaries to take to the streets explains Lina Maria Montilla Diaz, an official in the Central Union of Workers. “We have the problem of paramilitarism and with these types of declarations they are inviting these paramilitary groups to start working and strengthening their ranks,” she told me.

Meanwhile, vehicles with hidden license plates and men in high rubber boots –  telltale signs of paramilitary activity –  began to appear.

Dead chickens were left outside the headquarters of the left-wing Alternative Democratic Pole party – an unmistakable death threat.

Shadowy groups began to circulate explicit threats against protesters.

Just days after the mayor of Periera’s call for private security to take control of the city, plain-clothed gunmen pulled up in a car and opened fire on Lucas Villa, a university student and yoga teacher.

Lucas Villa has been a highly visible figure in the protests and was apparently targeted for his activism.

“It’s a tax deficit taken from the rich people, the middle class, and the poor. Now we are going to have to pay more for water, internet, coffee, and phone service because we’ve been naive,” he explained to a group of people on a public bus.

At the time of this recording, 34 people have been reported killed. But that’s certainly way below the actual number. According to Colombian journalist Laura Sofia Mejia, the government is covering the real number up.

“Something important is that we contacted one of the institutions trying to get information on how many were killed on a certain night and we were told off the record by an official that the order is not to reveal any information to the press,” she said.

 

Police facilitate paramilitaries

Throughout the strike, the Duque government has insisted that it’s allowing peaceful protest and that the militarization is necessary to battle vandals and terrorists. Generating fear and portraying its heavy hand as the answer seems to be the government’s only chance at subduing the strike. While it was clear that the “vandals and terrorists” narrative was a lie from the start, it all came crashing down on Thursday when a group of men in civilian clothes got out of a vehicle in Cali and opened fire on a demonstration.

Other demonstrators nearby managed to search the vehicle and found police gear inside.

Caught red-handed, the police were forced to admit the vehicle belonged to them.

With their scare tactics failing, Duque and Uribe’s murderous iron fist failing to break the strike, there’s no telling where this goes. Anything could happen.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000

The post Meet the Neo-Nazi Advising Colombian Police on How to Break the National Strike appeared first on MintPress News.