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Tagged ‘Colombia‘

Did Human Rights Watch Sabotage Colombia’s Peace Agreement?

Like the country’s far right, HRW wanted to send human-rights violators to prison more than it wanted to end the war.

The Nation

October 3, 2016

 

It’s a heartbreaking disaster for the long, intricate peace process, which sought to put an end to Colombia’s more than five-decade-long civil war. That war has claimed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of lives and has displaced millions upon millions of people. The peace deal, which was worked out during years of negotiations, mostly in Havana, was more aspirational than binding, offering hope that one of the world’s longest-running conflicts would come to an end. Now, that deal is in “tatters.” But keep in mind that “no” won with a sliver of a voting majority (less than 1 percent) of a minority (of eligible voters), with turnout low due to, in many precincts, extreme tropical rain, mostly in coastal departments where “yes” won handily.

That bad-weather luck almost wants you to invoke the apocalyptic conclusion to Colombia’s most famous novel, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, where an unending hurricane washes all away. But the peace might not be lost. Lisa Haugaard, of the indispensable Latin American Working Group, told me, “The Colombian government, fully engaged in finding a negotiated solution, did not do the outreach, socializing, and explaining of the accords that was necessary.  The ‘no’ campaign effectively organized around its negative message. Fortunately, after it was clear the ‘no’ vote narrowly won, both President Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño pledged that the cease-fire will hold and that they remain committed to peace.”

According to The New York Times, the government and FARC have already announced that they would send diplomats to Havana to begin discussing how to salvage the peace. The FARC responded to the vote by announcing that they remained committed to peace; indeed, the UN has already started disarming the guerrillas. Santos stated that the cease-fire will hold, and the historian Robert Karl, who just wrote a terrific “centuries long history behind Colombia’s peace agreement with the FARC” in The Washington Post, tells me that Santos, as president, has “a good deal of discretionary power” over the military, so let’s hope Santos can keep the security forces on a leash. What Washington, who has spent billions on this war (for the lethal effects of Plan Colombia, see these very useful charts by the Latin American Working Group), will do is unclear. As of early morning Monday, the State Department hasn’t commented.

“No” won because the right wing, led by former President Álvaro Uribe, was able to turn a vote that was supposed to be on peace into a vote on the FARC. The geographic breakdown of the referendum indicates that “no” won in areas where Uribe and his political party have their support. Take a look especially at the department of Antioquia, where Uribe got his political start as a champion of paramilitary death squads. Sixty-two percent of Antioquia’s voters cast “no.” In the department’s capital, Medellín, a city that has been sold in the United States as a neoliberal success story—Modern! Urbane! Fun! Come visit!—63 percent of voters said “no” (for Medellín’s neoliberal “makeover,” see this essay by Forrest Hylton).

Uribe served as president from 2002 to 2010. He is best thought of as a Colombian Andrew Jackson, riding to the top office of his country on the wings of mass murder, rural ressentiment, and financial speculation. As an ex-president, he has been toxic, doing everything he could to keep the war going.

The Colombian elite, especially the retrograde sector Uribe represents, has much to lose with peace: The end of fighting would create a space in which the country’s many social conflicts—having to do with land, labor, and resource extraction—could be dealt with on their own terms, rather than distorted through counterinsurgent politics. And peace would be costly for some sectors, especially for all those Colombians in the “security” business who for years have fed off the Plan Colombia trough.

Polls show that a majority of Colombians favor peace. But Uribe and his allies in the media and congress lied, obfuscated, and scared. They managed to convince a small minority (the 54,000-vote victory margin for “no” is about a quarter of the number of civilians killed or disappeared by the state since the start of the civil war) that the agreement was a giveaway to the FARC and that Santos was “delivering the country to terrorism.” The Times identifies Uribe and the “far right” as the “biggest winner.” The former president “had argued that the agreement was too lenient on the rebels, who he said should be prosecuted as murderers and drug traffickers. ‘Peace is an illusion, the Havana agreement deceptive,’ Mr. Uribe wrote on Twitter on Sunday after casting his ‘no’ vote.” Thus Uribe has forced himself on the bargaining table, with Santos saying, as paraphrased by the Times, that he would be “reaching out to opposition leaders in the Colombian Congress like former President Álvaro Uribe,” with the Times adding that “experts predicted a potentially tortured process in which Mr. Uribe and others would seek harsher punishments for FARC members, especially those who had participated in the drug trade.”

The campaign to keep Colombia’s war going had an unlikely ally: Human Rights Watch. José Miguel Vivanco, the head of HRW’s Americas Watch division, emerged as an unexpected player in Colombian politics when he came out strongly against the “justice” provisions of the peace agreement. Vivanco agreed with Uribe by offering the most dire reading of the agreement possible, saying that perpetrators—in the FARC and the military—of human-rights violations would receive immunity. Vivanco was all over the press in Colombia, with his comments used to build opposition to the accords. Once it became clear that he was lining up too closely with Uribe, he staged a mock public dispute with the former para-president, even while continuing to basically support Uribe’s position (h/t Alejandro Velasco).

That Human Rights Watch played useful idiot to Colombia’s far right was confirmed by its executive director, Kenneth Roth, who on Sunday night gloated about the outcome of the vote on Twitter: “Looks like Colombians aren’t so eager to premise ‘peace’ on effective impunity for FARC’s and military’s war crimes.”

Now what, Ken? What are you going to tweet at these victims of the FARC who came together to urge a “yes” vote? According to the Colombian weekly Semana, those regions that suffered the most deaths at the hands of the FARC were the most supportive of the peace talks. A “paradox,” Semanasaid. Enough was enough, victims and their families said. They are painfully aware—in ways that Roth and Vivanco, with their unaccountable Twitter broadsides against the peace process apparently aren’t—of consequences. And they prove more capable of understanding something that the leaders of Human Rights Watch can’t: that you don’t end a half-century war, with its nearly incomprehensible political history and ever-shifting alliances, by applying legal absolutes. You rather end it by political compromise.

 

 

[Greg Grandin teaches history at New York University and is the author, most recently, of Kissinger’s Shadow.]

Media Conspiracy of Silence While Colombia’s Largest Indigenous Group is Dying

 United World Revolutionary Front in Defense of Life and Humanity

August 5, 2016

By Dan Kovalik

 

Earlier this week, on August 1, the Supreme Court of Colombia orderedPresident Manuel Santos and other individuals and entities to take all appropriate and necessary measures, in an efficient and coordinated manner, to ensure that children and adolescents of The Wayuu indigenous community receive access to clean drinking water, food, health care, housing and other basic amenities necessary for their survival.

https://i1.wp.com/img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/scalefit_630_noupscale/57a1032d13000018007c28c1.png
PHOTO: Daniel Kovalik, July 24, 2016
Wayuu Children, La Guajira, Colombia

This order follows the December 11, 2015 decision of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) which directed the Colombian government to take similar immediate “precautionary measures”  to ensure the lives and personal safety of Wayuu children in La Guajira, Colombia.  The IACHR decision was prompted by the documented deaths of 4770 Wayuu children during the past 8 years as a result of thirst, malnutrition and preventable disease.   For their part, The Wayuu claim that over 14,000 children have died.  In any case, these numbers are staggering for the 100,000 Wayuu who live in the communities covered by the IAHCHR decision.

The biggest threat to The Wayuu and their children comes from the lack of drinkable water – a fact which I witnessed on a recent trip I made to La Guajira with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).   The water that The Wayuu once had has been stolen from them – both by climate change which they had no part in creating, and by the damming of The Rancheria River which once fed their communities but which is now being used for the private benefit of coal mining giant Cerrejon.   Cerrejon uses 17 million liters of water a day while each resident of La Guajira is left with an average of 0.7 liters per day to live on.


PHOTO: Daniel Kovalik, July 24, 2016
Wayuu Leader & Human Rights Defender, Matilde López Arpushana,
looks out upon The Rancheria River — nearly dry as a bone.

Despite the IAHCR ruling nearly 9 months ago, the Colombian authorities have done next to nothing to alleviate the suffering and untimely death of The Wayuu children, thus precipitating the August 1 Supreme Court decision which again orders the government to take urgent measures to address this crisis.   In the meantime, as the IAHCR itself explains, the chief advocate on behalf of The Wayuu in these cases, Javier Rojas Uriana, has received death threats by right-wing paramilitaries trying to pressure him into halting his legal actions to protect The Wayuu.

Just as remarkable as the dire situation facing The Wayuu is the almost total lack of press coverage regarding their situation.   Thus, while the press covers the shortages in Venezuela nearly every day, and in a quite histrionic fashion which ignores the complexities and subtleties of the situation there, there is almost a total blackout of the real famine confronting The Wayuu of Colombia just over the border.   And, it is this media blackout, even in the face of major rulings by both the IACHR and Colombia’s high court, which of course allows this famine to continue without pause.

La Guajira, Colombia. (Photos: Dan Kovalik, Slideshow: Ryin Gaines)

 

 

[Dan Kovalik is a human rights, labor rights lawyer and peace activist. He has contributed to articles CounterPunch and TeleSUR. He currently teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.]

 

Further reading: Gold and Misery in Colombia: The Sad Case of Segovia

 

 

FARC-EP : The Politically Illiterate

FARC-EP Colombia, Peace Delegation

Libya 360

January 25, 2016

“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity.” — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

 

Global hegemony has developed mechanisms to introject and naturalize political illiteracy

 

By Julián Subverso, member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
@Subverso_FARC

 

Despite of multiple civil wars, rebellions and struggles waged from various Colombian social sectors in specific moments of history, a large portion of the population,  primarily in urban sectors, consciously or unconsciously,  practice political illiteracy, which is  reinforced and disseminated by both the national dominant class and global imperialism.

The aversion towards reading, the rejection of curiosity, the desire to know what is happening in the world and ambivalence towards the press, the radio or news reporting on the most important political, social and economic events concerning not only one´s country but also concerning neighboring or distant countries, is a habit rooted in contemporary societies, and it is not by accident.

FARK-EP

“Formed on May 27, 1964, the FARC-EP succeeded the rural self-defense groups originally formed by the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) to protect peasant communities from attacks by liberal and conservative government forces. Since then, the USA has backed military operations against the communist forces and continues to do so today (Brittain, 8). The mainstream media attacks on the FARC-EP are well known.” [Source]

Undoubtedly, Etienne La Boétie was right in his discourse on voluntary servitude, but surely global hegemony has developed various modern mechanisms to introject and naturalize this odious and slavish political illiteracy, that makes the poor favor the rich, the oppressed admire the oppressor, and to believe that banal events in the of life of a celebrity from the cultural industrial complex, is more important than the decisions and political events that directly affect their present lives, their future and thus define their historical path.

In Colombia, after the so-called times of “La Violencia” (the violence, TN), the proportion of people living in the countryside and the cities reversed. Today, cities are home to 70% of the population, while countryside houses the other 30%, which like every step taken by the oppressors has a specific purpose that will not be addressed here. Despite that a large majority of that 70% has experienced terrible suffering from poverty, instability, anxiety, hunger and precariousness, they maintain their practice of political indifference towards the very same society whose torment they continue to endure.

Phrases like: “I’m not really interested in politics”, “it is boring”, “ … just don’t get it”, “I care only about my family”, “to each his own”, “every one thinks differently”, “same old, same old”, “I am not a politic person”, “there is no end to this”, “the world will change when it changes… no one changes the world”, etc. are common sentences, deeply entrenched in Colombian society and lead to a religious conformism that frustrates and infects us.

This system of entrenched political illiteracy is not gratuitous;  it was elaborately  executed for many years under an alienating disinformation policy of providing amusement and spectacle to distract and numb critical thought.  The mass media and entertainment industry that were mere propaganda outlets at the service of particular interests, built alternate realities, enemies, idols, villains, all backed by an army of intellectual mercenaries sold to the highest bidder, and by an educational system that presents content that is increasingly distant from criticism, humanism, and social justice, all to render people passive amidst the ruthless land of predatory capitalism, private profit and the uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of the social order, creating the political illiterate.

It is necessary, in order to emancipate our society and achieve well-being and social justice for all Colombians, that we build an education alternative to that created under imperialist operations such as “operación Cacique”, an education that forms human beings, that builds a culture based on permanent criticism not only of society, its decisions and paths, but also critical of our own actions, reconciling and evaluating what is thought and what is done apart from mere formalisms that builds power from its base, a society where the fool is not who reads and actively participates in politics or who wants to enter into discussions regarding social issues, because it is objectively true that fool is the one who doesn’t.

I’m not sure if appealing to an education in the style of the Platonic Paideia, or maybe installing an educational ” dictatorship ” as Marcuse wrote it, or perhaps a pedagogy of the oppressed as Freire taught, or even better, nurturing our selves of all the positive contributions of the great thinkers and successful experiences, thus building our own road, a road in a Colombian way.

What if it is true and necessary in the first instance is to wake up from the slumber  of indifference that global and local power holders made us fall into, awakening to empower ourselves,  our transformative power enhanced and taken to its revolutionary realization.

2016 must be the year of large mobilizations for people, the year of vindications, the beginning of the construction of a truly stable and lasting peace, the year of the constitutional assembly, of political participation of all the sectors of society that have been historically excluded from the public limelight of national events, it must be the year for all those who never thought that peace, sovereignty and social justice for all was possible, to take in their hands, not only their destiny, but together, the destiny of Colombia.

This coming year should be the beginning of the New Colombia, bringing to reality the longing and dreams of millions of forever oppressed and forgotten Colombians, the year of awareness, leaving behind the political illiterate, the guilty incapacity, and building the new Colombia for the power of the people, of individuals with identity who are politically active, because as we have always held, there is no transformation without people.

 


 

La analfabetopolítica

por Julián Subverso, integrante de la delegación de paz de las FARC-EP

A pesar de los múltiples hechos de guerras civiles, rebeliones y lucha de ciertos sectores colombianos en determinados momentos de la historia del país, grandes cantidades de la población, sobre todo en el sector urbano, han practicado consciente o inconscientemente un analfabetismo político alentado y difundido por la clase dominante del país y el imperialismo mundial.

La aversión al leer, el rechazo a enterarse de lo que acontece en el mundo, a la prensa, escuchar la radio o ver noticias que informen sobre los acontecimientos políticos, sociales y económicos más importantes no solo del país que se habita, sino aún más de otros países por más cercanos o lejanos que estén, es un habito que se ha arraigado no de manera casual en las sociedades contemporáneas.

Sin duda Etienne La boétie tenía razón en su discurso sobre la servidumbre voluntaria, pero de seguro la hegemonía mundial ha desarrollado diversos mecanismos modernos para introyectar y naturalizar ese odioso y esclavizante analfabetismo político, que hace que pobres elijan ricos, que oprimidos admiren a los que siempre los han oprimido y que piensen que los banales acontecimientos de la vida de cualquier “estrella” de música, de cine o de cualquier índole de la industria cultural, sea más importante que las decisiones y acontecimientos políticos que afectan directamente su presente, su futuro y el devenir de su historia.

En Colombia después de la llamada época de la violencia, la proporción de personas en el campo y las ciudades fue a la inversa, hoy, las ciudades albergan el 70% de la población, mientras que el campo un 30%, y como todo paso dado por los opresores, tiene una finalidad que aquí no abordaremos; y de ese 70% habitante en las ciudades, una gran mayoría, a pesar de sufrir en carne propia la miseria, la inestabilidad, la zozobra, la incertidumbre, el hambre y la precariedad, viven y practican la indiferencia política en la sociedad que padecen.

Frases como: “no me interesa la política”, “eso es muy aburridor”, “yo no entiendo nada de eso”, “solo me preocupo por mi familia”, “cada loco con su tema”, “todo el mundo piensa diferente”, “eso es lo mismo de siempre”, “yo no soy político”, “el mundo no lo cambia nadie”, “el mundo cambia solo cuanto tenga que cambiar”, etc. son frases que se han arraigado dentro de la sociedad colombiana y que han llevado a un conformismo religioso que frustra y contagia.

Este sistema de analfabetopolítica arraigada no es gratuito, fue elaborado y puesto en ejecución desde hace muchos años bajo la desinformación alienante de diversiones y espectáculos construidos con el fin de distraer y adormecer, de igual manera a través de periódicos, radio, televisión, programas, hoy aglomerados masiva y sistemáticamente bajo los mass media que, funcionando como empresas de publicidad al servicio de intereses particulares, crean realidades, enemigos, ídolos y villanos, sustentado todo esto en un ejercito de intelectuales mercenarios que trabajan al mejor postor y una educación directa e indirecta con modelos y contenidos que se alejan cada vez más de lo crítico, del humanismo y lo social, para instalarse en los despiadados terrenos de la razón instrumental del capitalismo, del lucro privado y la aceptación acrítica del orden social, creando el analfabeto político.

Es necesario, con el fin de emancipar nuestra sociedad y alcanzar el bienestar y la justicia social para todos los colombianos, que construyamos una educación diferente a la creada bajo operaciones imperialistas como la Cacique, una educación que forme seres humanos, no que los adiestre, que construya una cultura basada en la critica permanente no solo de nuestra sociedad, sus decisiones y devenires, sino además crítica con nuestras propias actuaciones, que reconcilie y evalué lo que se piensa con lo que se hace, que salga de los formalismos, que construya poder desde sus bases, una sociedad donde el tonto no sea quien lea o se interese por participar activamente de la política o que quiera entablar conversaciones respecto del acontecer social, pues es objetivamente cierto que el tonto es quien no lo hace.

No sé si apelando a una formación al estilo de la Paideía platónica, no sé si instaurando una “dictadura” educacional como lo escribía Marcuse, o quizás una pedagogía del oprimido como enseña Freire, o mejor, nutriéndonos de todos los aportes positivos de los grandes pensadores y experiencias exitosas, construyendo así nuestro propio camino, un camino a la colombiana.

Lo que si es cierto y necesario hacer en primera instancia, es despertarnos del letargo de indiferencia en el que nos han hecho caer los detentores del poder mundial y local, de espabilarnos, de empoderarnos de nuestra fuerza transformadora hoy potenciada y llevarla a su concreción revolucionaria.

Este año 2016, debe ser el de grandes movilizaciones para pueblo, el de las reivindicaciones, el del inicio de la construcción de una verdadera paz estable y duradera, el año de la constituyente, el año de la participación política de todos los sectores de la sociedad históricamente excluidos del protagonismo del acontecer nacional, debe ser el año en que todos aquellos que nunca pensaron en que la paz, la soberanía y la justicia social para todos era posible, tomen en sus manos, no solo su destino, sino todos juntos, el destino de Colombia.

Este año que comienza debe ser el del inicio de la nueva Colombia, el que traiga a la realidad el anhelo y los sueños de millones de colombianos siempre oprimidos y olvidados, el año de la toma de conciencia, de dejar atrás al analfabeto político, la incapacidad culpable y construir la Colombia nueva de poder popular, de individuos con identidad y políticamente activos, pues como siempre lo hemos sostenido, sin pueblo, no hay transformación.

 

FARC-EP : Mobilization, not Demobilization

 

(New Book) Force Multipliers: The Instrumentalities of Imperialism

Zero Anthropology

October 12, 2015

by Maximilian Forte

 

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Friends and allies, partners and protégés, extensions and proxies—the vocabulary of US power in the form of multiples of itself has become so entrenched that it rarely attracts attention, and even less so critical commentary. Force multiplication is about “leverage”: using partners and proxies in an expanding network, but where power still remains centralized. Forces are conceptualized in multi-dimensional terms. Anything in the world of cultural systems, social relationships, and material production can become force multipliers for imperialism: food security, oil, electricity, young leaders, aid, social media, NGOs, women’s rights, schoolgirls, democratization, elections, the G8, the European Union, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, AFRICOM, development, policing, borders, and epidemics, among others. This takes us to related conceptualizations of “full-spectrum dominance,” “three-dimensional warfare,” and “interoperability,” in what has become an imperial syndrome. Chapters in this volume present diverse examples of force multiplication, ranging from Plan Colombia to Bulgarian membership in NATO and the US-Israeli relationship, from the New Alliance for Food Security to charitable aid and the control of migration, to the management of secrecy.

This volume is timely on numerous fronts. The time spanning the production of this book, from late 2014 to late 2015, has witnessed several new and renewed US interventions overseas, from Ukraine to Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, and the non-withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, where a disastrous war stretches into its 14th year. On the academic front, and particularly in North American anthropology where the word “imperialism” is virtually unspeakable and the subject of deliberate or unconscious censorship, seminar participants have taken on a bold and unusual challenge.

Chapters in this volume speak directly to the alliance and coalition aspects of force multiplication, in military and economic terms. The Introduction (“Force Multipliers: Imperial Instrumentalism in Theory and Practice”) is not a mere formality, running 87 pages in length. Instead it is an in-depth exploration, using US and some British government documents, of the “science of control” as expressed in this murky concept, “force multipliers,” a concept that receives its first serious treatment in this volume. Anyone thinking of engaging in false debates of “imperialism vs. agency” or “conspiracy vs. coincidence,” ought to first read this chapter. I shall also be serializing that chapter on this site over the next days and weeks, with summarizing slides presented on Twitter and Facebook.

Chapter 1, “Protégé of an Empire: The Influence and Exchange of US and Israeli Imperialism,” by John Talbot, deals with the question of Israel as a force multiplier of US empire in the Middle East. Talbot’s research sought to uncover how the relationship between the US and Israel impacts the foreign policy and global actions of both. Furthermore, his work seeks to understand what exactly is the “special” relationship between the US and Israel. His chapter explores two prominent answers to these questions and posits his own. One answer is that there is a significant and powerful pro-Israel lobby in the US which has a grappling hold on the US Congress, media, and within universities—suggesting that these are Israel’s own “force multipliers”. The Israel lobby’s actions create ardent support for Israel’s actions and pro-Israel foreign policy even when this goes against US interests. The second position argues that the US is not being manipulated; rather it is acting according to its own imperial interests. The argument assumes Israel was, and is, in a strategic position which works to protect the US’ imperial and economic interests. Both the vast reserves of oil in the Middle East and the spread of cultural imperialism are of interest to the US empire. The chapter ends with a position that the relationship is neither one-sided nor symbiotic. The US is supporting a protégé in the realms of nationalism, colonialism, imperialism, exceptionalism, state violence, heavy militarization, the creation of a state of emergency, and empire. Israel is acting as the US itself does while relying on its support. Understanding this relationship alongside the other standpoints can help make sense of otherwise irrational actions in which each actor may engage on the global stage. Talbot’s work has added significance in that it was produced just as the Concordia Students’ Union (CSU) officially supported the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli occupation, a decision that was the product of a historic vote by a majority of Concordia undergraduate student voters, reinforcing the decisions by graduate students and other campus bodies.

In chapter 2, “The New Alliance: Gaining Ground in Africa,” Mandela Coupal Dalgleish focuses on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which claims that it will bring 50 million people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. He examines the origins of the New Alliance as well as the narrative that fuels New Alliance strategies. The chapter also considers how the value chains, growth corridors and public-private partnerships are furthering the interests of corporations while causing the further impoverishment of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The relaxation and reduction of regulations and laws related to trade and ownership, which are required for African countries to participate in the New Alliance, are enabling occurrences of land grabbing, contract farming and the loss of diversity and resilience in African farming systems. This chapter is also very much related to discussions of “connected capitalism” (see the Introduction), the existence of the corporate oligarchic state at the centre of imperial power, and of course by invoking “alliance” the chapter’s contents relate to force multiplication. In this instance, force multiplication has to do with gaining productive territory and projecting power by remaking food security into something controlled by Western transnational corporations and subject to Western oversight.

In chapter 3, “Cocaine Blues: The Cost of Democratization under Plan Colombia,” Robert Majewski asks: Is the “war on drugs” in Colombia really about drugs? Majewski finds that the situation is more complex than simply a war on drugs. Instead he shows that rather than limiting actions to controlling and eradicating drug production, the US is on a imperialist quest of forging Colombia into a country able to uphold US ideals of democracy, capitalism and the free market. Through the highly militarized Plan Colombia that came to light in 2000, the US has utilized a number of mechanisms to restructure the country to its own liking. The ways in which US imperial aims are being attained are both through ideological and more direct means. Ideologically, the rule of law acts as a legal basis for the implementation of Americanized democracy. In a more direct manner, the US is training the Colombian army and employing private military security companies to carry out its objectives. As Majewski argues, the final aim is to create a secure environment for foreign capital to flourish, an environment that is even today seen as under threat by insurgent groups such as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (known by their Spanish acronym, FARC). As we see in the Introduction, the US’ cultivation of ties to the Colombian military is an excellent example of what Special Forces and US Army documents describe when speaking of force multipliers and “foreign internal defense,” allowing the US a presence by proxy inside the Colombian polity.

Chapter 4, “Bulgarian Membership in NATO and the Price of Democracy,” by Lea Marinova, examines Bulgaria’s membership in NATO—where Bulgaria now serves as one of the newer force multipliers of a force multiplying alliance that works to project US dominance. Some of the central questions raised by this chapter in examining the nature of Bulagria’s NATO membership are: What are the main arguments on the side of NATO which favour Bulgarian participation in the Alliance, and to what ends? How is Bulgaria advantaged from this allegiance? Through the examination of the Bulgarian government’s “Vision 2020” project and the participation of Bulgaria in NATO missions, it is argued that NATO is an instrumentalization of US imperialism. Through the exposition of specific socio-historical predispositions which led to that association, the link between the interests of the US in having Bulgaria as an ally by its side in the “global war on terrorism” is demonstrated. Marinova argues that it is important to produce critical investigation of organizations such as NATO, which claim to promote “democracy, freedom and equality,” because behind this discourse there is a reality of creating political and economic dependency, while public and political attention is removed from this reality as the country’s internal problems continue to escalate.

Chapter 5, “Forced Migrations: An Echo of the Structural Violence of the New Imperialism,” by Chloë Blaszkewycz, shows how borders too can be used as force multipliers, or feared as force diminishers—either way, Blaszkewycz brings to light the territoriality of the so-called new imperialism which is routinely theorized as being divorced from the territorial concerns of the old colonial form of imperialism. Her chapter explores migratory movement as being influenced by the structures supporting the new imperialism. Harsha Walia’s concept of border imperialism is used as a starting point to understand the different level of oppression and forms of violence coming from the US new imperialism. Even though scholars are less likely to talk about the territorial forms of domination in the new imperialism, when analyzing migratory movement one is confronted with the fortification of borders, both material and psychological ones. Therefore, adding the concept of the border into imperialism is paramount, Blaszkewycz argues. Border imperialism legitimizes structural, psychological, physical and social violence towards migrants through narratives of criminalization and apparati of control such as detention centres that are an extension of the prison system. In brief, in a paternalistic way the US is compelling the migration trajectory of Others and forces people to be in constant movement. Therefore this is also a significant contribution for bridging migration studies with studies of imperialism.

Chapter 6, “Humanitarian Relief vs. Humanitarian Belief,” by Iléana Gutnick, continues themes that were heavily developed in the fourth of our volumes, Good Intentions. It plays an important role in this volume for highlighting how humanitarian doctrines, NGOs, and development, are forms of foreign intervention that also serve as force multipliers for the interests of powerful states. Moreover, Gutnick argues that humanitarian aid discourse is voluntarily misleading in that it shifts the public’s focus of attention towards seemingly immediate yet irrelevant ways of coping with the world’s problems. The pursuit of development has become the basis of action for foreign intervention in all sectors. This chapter tries to present the actual causes of “poverty” in an attempt to recontextualize it within its political framework to shed light on possible solutions, if there are any.

Chapter 7, “On Secrecy, Power, and the Imperial State: Perspectives from WikiLeaks and Anthropology,” which has been written and redeveloped since 2010, focuses on the demand for secrecy that is occasioned by an imperial state relying heavily on covert operations and whose own forms of governance are increasingly beholden to the operations of a “shadow state”. This chapter is thus related to discussions of “connected capitalism” and the corporate oligarchic state discussed below. I proceed by examining how WikiLeaks understands strategies of secrecy, the dissemination of information, and state power, and how anthropology has treated issues of secret knowledge and the social conventions that govern the dissemination of that knowledge. In part, I highlight a new method of doing research on the imperial state and its force multipliers, which rests heavily on the work of anti-secrecy organizations, of which WikiLeaks is paramount.

This is the fifth volume in the New Imperialism series published by Alert Press, the first open access book publisher in anthropology and sociology. However, for the time being, this volume will be the last. As always it has been my pleasure and honour to serve as the editor for such a collection, despite the fact that this year has been particularly challenging for personal reasons. Given the costly and time-consuming nature of these endeavours, and the fact that the seminar itself is not likely to be offered for the next couple of years at least, it will be a while before readers can hope to see a new volume in this series. Until next time then, I thank the reader for taking the time to study the contents of this volume.

 

[Maximilian C. Forte has an educational background in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Spanish, International Relations, and Anthropology. He lived and studied for seven years in Trinidad & Tobago, for four years in Australia, and for three years in the U.S. He is a dual Italian-Canadian citizen, and had previously achieved Permanent Resident status in Trinidad & Tobago. His primary website is that of the Zero Anthropology Project.]

FLASHBACK | Conservation International: Privatizing Nature, Plundering Biodiversity

conservation-international

Seedling | Grain

October 2003

by Aziz Choudry

Conservation International’s corporate sponsor list reads like a list of the US’ top fifty transnational corporations. Biodiversity conservation is at the top of Conservation International’s list of goals. But as the list of Conservation International’s dubious ventures and questionable partners around the world grows, Aziz Choudry is starting to wonder if it is time to ‘out’ this ‘multinational conservation corporation’ and show its true colours.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C, with operations in over 30 countries on four continents, Conservation International claims to be an environmental NGO. Its mission is “to conserve the Earth’s living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature.” [1] This all sounds very laudable and Conservation International has some very high profile fans. This year Colin Powell shared the podium with Conservation International President Russell Mittermeier at the launch of the Bush Administration’s “Initiative Against Illegal Logging” at the US State Department. In December 2001, Gordon Moore, who founded Intel Corporation, donated US $261 million to Conservation International, supposedly the largest grant ever to an environmental organisation. Moore is chairman of Conservation International’s executive committee. Conservation International has repaid Moore’s largesse by nam-ing an endangered Brazilian pygmy owl after him. [2]

How ‘Economic Hit Men’ Conspire to Impoverish the Third World with Aid (The Importance of Eritrea]

imf_mofo

WKOG editor: This article spells out why visionary independent states such as Eritrea – that reject most all international aid, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the non-profit industrial complex (serving as instruments to the imperial states) – are considered a very real threat to hegemonic rule, and are thus demonized with intent to destabilize. The demonization process of such sovereign states and their leaders/governments who work relentlessly to break the chains of enslavement/imperialism, is carried out with precision by the hope industry/humanitarian industrial complex, the non-profit industrial complex, the corporate media complex and the military industrial complex – all working in strategic tandem. [Example: Rio Summit “Good Versus Evil” Advert Displays Blatant Racism and Imperialism at Core of Avaaz]]

In a world of accelerating environmental degradation and expanding collapse of vital ecosystems, these sovereign states must be protected from foreign interference at all costs – because it is these states and the citizens that live and breathe revolution with the land they love, that represent the only hope for humanity.

Eritrea, like all other states, is not and will not be perfect. However, it is a working model that demonstrates that there is a way to break free from subservience to imperial, hegemonic powers. A model that is truly reflective of the revolution with social democracy as the foundation. Let us support such an effort. Eritrean solutions by Eritreans. Venezuelan solutions by Venezuelans. Bolivian solutions by Bolivians. Argentinian solutions by Argentines. White saviors need not apply.

Further reading: An Economic Lesson We Can Learn from Eritrea by Mark D. Juszczak.

Daily Nation, Kenya

By JOHN MBARIA
February 24  2013

Unfortunately for us in developing countries, this grand deception did not end after Perkins published his book. It is a scheme that is so well-crafted that the victim becomes dependent on it and often begs those behind it to continue stealing.

As Kenyans enter into a national dialogue on whether we can do without the West should Uhuru Kenyatta win the presidency, everyone ought to read a book that reveals how the West, the Bretton Woods institutions and giant multinationals take everyone for a ride so that they can rake in billions of dollars generated in the developing world.

It is a book you can never find in Kenya. But the shocking, best-selling gem ought to be read by everyone, particularly those who have been harping loudest on the great mercies of donors.

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