For years the US government has given the wrong kind of aid to Colombia – billions of dollars for war and repression, and to secure profits for global capitalism. It has made Colombia both a dependent state and a crucially strategic military colony for US imperialism. What it has not done is give any kind of adequate support for Colombia’s peace process or for the Total Peace Plan proposed by President Gustavo Petro, despite US responsibility for six decades of war. The US owes Colombia a debt of peace, and that debt is long overdue. (The Pentagon’s Yarborough Commission recommended in 1962 that the Colombian government organize paramilitaries and acts of terror, along with unilateral assaults against autonomous peasant zones.
As Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez near the one year anniversary of their election, efforts to undermine their government are escalating. In some cases, these have included assassination threats and attempts, and calls for a coup. Many political opponents are engineering what increasingly appears to be an effort to remove President Petro by “lawfare,” manipulations designed to give a semblance of legality in the removal of legitimately elected governments. For many, all these elements are familiar, as if they are taken from playbooks for coups in Latin America and elsewhere that were supported by the government of the United States.
“For the first time there is a president, that instead of trying to take the land away from peasants to keep it or give it to his friends, he is trying to give the land back. And now some former colonel says that this deserves a coup d’état… these coups are resisted and overcome through the mobilization of citizens,” declared Colombian President Gustavo Petro during an event in Sucre, in which land was turned over to dispossessed peasants. Petro was referring to the incendiary statements made on Thursday, May 11 by retired Army Colonel John Marulanda during a debate on La W radio. Marulanda said that the mobilization of retired members of the military is a sign that Colombia is “following the steps of Peru” wherein “the reserve forces were successfully able to defenestrate a corrupt president.”
The Russian theorist and leader of the Bolshevik revolution Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, in one of his most remembered phrases said, “There are decades in which nothing happens, and there are weeks in which decades pass.” After the electoral victory of Gustavo Petro in June this year, what Lenin said is quite close to what has been happening in terms of the recomposition of diplomatic and economic relations between Venezuela and Colombia, where the arrival of the Colombian president a couple of days ago to Caracas to hold an official meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, represents the decisive, formal fact of the resumption of binational cooperation. A chronological fact allows us to place the importance of the meeting in a temporal framework.
NATO recently expanded to Sweden and Finland, has been de facto incorporated in Ukraine, and may extend to Georgia. Now, NATO’s entry into the Amazon is in the works under the aegis of newly elected President Gustavo Petro of Colombia. NATO is a primary instrument of US imperial dominion. It is Washington’s praetorian guard projected on a global scale. Earlier this month, President Petro invited US and NATO military forces into the Amazon on the pretext that the imperial war machine could be repurposed as “police” aimed at protecting the environment instead of the old ruse of the war on drugs. He proposed deployment of US Black Hawk helicopters to put out fires. Previous to the environmental alibi, the pretext for militarization of the jungle was narcotics interdiction. Petro described his “conversation with NATO” as “strange,” but hastened to add “that’s where we are.”
Colombia’s first ever left-wing President Gustavo Petro delivered a historic speech at the United Nations declaring, “The war on drugs has failed.” Petro emphasized that drug addiction is a social problem, and cannot be solved with violence and militarization. Rather, he argued, it is a mere symptom of a much deeper problem: the capitalist system itself, with its “addiction to money and oil.” The Colombian leader warned that the infinite greed of capitalism is destroying the planet, threatening life on Earth. “The cause of the climate disaster is capital – the logic of dedicating ourselves to consume more and more, to produce more and more, and so that a small few can earn more and more [money],” Petro proclaimed. The “logic of increasing accumulation of capital” is ravaging the environment, he warned. “The increasing accumulation of capital is the increasing accumulation of death.”
The alarm bells are — sort of — ringing, Bloomberg reports, in Colombia’s most “fashionable neighborhoods of Bogotá and Medellin.” Colombia’s newly elected progressive president has just proposed a wealth tax, on his first day in office no less. In Latin America, the world’s most unequal region, an egalitarian move like that would normally have a nation’s most privileged enraged and frothing. And some of that frothing certainly is showing up since Gustavo Petro, Columbia’s first left president, proposed his new levy on grand fortunes. A top exec with Colombia’s largest financial conglomerate now even says he sees “a significant risk” the nation’s stock market “will practically disappear” under Petro’s reign.
On August 7, 2022, Gustavo Petro and his running mate, Francia Márquez, were inaugurated as the President and Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia. This was one of the most historic events in Latin America for at least a century. For the first time since the liberation of Colombia from Spain by Simón Bolívar, Colombia now had leaders who promised to radically transform Colombia, and with it, all of Latin America. I was fortunate enough to be present at the inauguration ceremony which was just as exciting as one could have hoped for. As I was told by Colombians while in Bogotá, this was the first time in memory that throngs of people came to Plaza Bolívar to celebrate the inauguration of a new President and Vice-President.
The top Latin America advisor for US President Joe Biden, Juan Sebastián González, threateningly said of Colombia’s new left-wing president: “40 years ago, the United States would have done everything possible to prevent the election of Gustavo Petro, and once in power it would have done almost everything possible to sabotage his government.” González is the Western hemisphere director for the US National Security Council (NSC). He previously worked in the State Department and NSC in the Barack Obama administration. González made these incendiary comments in Spanish in an interview with the Colombian media. Obliquely acknowledging the long history of US meddling in Latin America’s sovereign internal affairs, González added, “Those are the policies of the Cold War, that to a certain point today for some people are a justification from revisionist perspectives that characterize the policy of the United States in the context of a local manifestation of an empire.”
A delegation of the Colombian government, headed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán, visited Cuba on Thursday, August 11, and was received by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez in the capital Havana. The purpose of the visit was to establish contact with the leadership of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest leftist guerrilla group active in Colombia, in order to advance towards peace negotiations. Following a meeting between the Colombian government’s delegation, the ELN leaders, and the Cuban government’s representatives at the El Laguito Protocol Hall, Colombian Foreign Minister Leyva announced that the government will resume peace talks with the ELN in Havana. Leyva also confirmed that Cuba and Norway would be guarantors of the peace dialogues, which were interrupted in 2018 by the former conservative president Iván Duque.