In tracing back the history of the current narco-trafficking industry in Colombia, and the peasants' real place in all of it, Chomsky recalls the Eisenhower administration's 'Food for Peace' plan which entailed the flooding of third world markets with heavily subsidised exports from agri-businesses, essentially putting all local producers out of business. Thus, in Colombia, their wheat production industry was destroyed. And so, taught as they were to be 'rational peasants,' the locals, forced from their lands by drug barons and land owners into the outer reaches of the Amazonian rainforest, began to grow the only thing that would enable them to live and feed their children: cocoa. Enter Plan Colombia with the Clinton Administration. Chomsky describes here the reasoning and method of the plan, and unsurprisingly neither has anything whatsoever to do with curbing the drug trade or rehabilitating addicts.
Almost all of the 1.7 bn in 'aid' travelling to Colombia is in the form of chemical and biological warfare and money that is given to the military and paramilitaries (almost one and the same) who in turn are responsible for the majority of atrocities committed as well as being the main proponents of narcotics-trafficking in the country. A tiny percentage of the money has been allocated to the development of alternative crops to cocoa. No FARC controlled areas are to receive any of this money, though it is in these areas that the peasant population is suffering the most.
And inevitably, the US is utterly compliant in the narco-trafficking industry itself. Of the estimated 500 billion dollars generated within it per annum, over half of it passes through NY banks. US colonels training 'counter-narcotics brigades' in Colombia have been found guilty of trafficking. The list goes on and a number of things become clear: if quelling the drug trade and subsequent abuse was really an objective, all of the 1.7 bn would be going toward treatment of addicts, development of alternative crops and changing the social conditions in which that trade flourishes, as well as targeting the drug-barons.
Chomsky compares the current wave of annihilation in Colombia to that which happened to the Kurds at the hands of the Turkish government. The reason these two cases are similar is that Turkey at the time was number one on the US list of recipients of military 'aid' - this being so necessary to crush that insurgent oppressed people there. When that mission was a success, with thousands of Kurds murdered, Columbia moved into the number one spot, with the same kind of mission in mind.
An amusing and highly pertinent point is raised by Chomsky. If the problem of trafficking of lethal substances is really in question here, we need only look at US tobacco companies whose product constitutes a far greater health hazard than any narcotic in terms of mortality rates. "Many more people die in Columbia from US lethal drugs than the number of people who die here from Colombian lethal drugs....if we have a right to carry out these campaigns in Columbia, why don't they have a right to carry out chemical and biological warfare say, in North Carolina?" Good point.
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This edition is No69 published in March 2002