Published in The Stone in the Shoe, no7
By Efrain Guerrero Sanchez, political prisoner.
More than 1,000 people extradited during the era of Colombian President Uribe: A mark of pride of which he boasts regularly. A matter of nostalgia for thousands of families who have had to suffer the uprooting of their loved ones. An embarrassment for the Colombian justice system which is not able or refuses to judge its own citizens. A disappointment for the people of the United States who watch the inundation of their prisons with supposed “drug lords” even as the profitable narcotics business continues in Colombia in full force, supplying masses of cocaine to the streets of New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington. And an offense against the Colombian people who are faced once more with a government that does not respond to their needs but rather to the interests of imperialist governments.
A logical reflection is called for: Have anti-drug politics, led by the self-interest of North American imperialism, perhaps failed? The answer is clearly yes. In the United States congress, Republicans and Democrats joined forces to begin the process of revising their anti-drug policies in Colombia. Pay careful attention to the fact that both parties (Democrats and Republicans) approved a project that purports to create a commission of well-known figures who are to watch over the execution of the anti-narcotics strategy.
Eliot Engel, president of the US chamber subcommittee for the western hemisphere, and Connie Mack, the highest ranking Republican of said committee, have said that the time to design a new strategy for their anti-drug politics in Latin America has arrived. This statement indicates that those at the highest levels of imperialist power are conscious that the reasoning behind the so-called “war on drugs,” which they have justified to the point of military intervention in Colombia, is unsustainable. This will oblige them to re-explain in detail certain aspects of their interventionist strategy, even as we know direct intervention will continue because this is part of their nature. For proof, one has only to recall that President Uribe subscribed without objection to military cooperation agreements with the US government, including the permanent stationing of troops in aircraft, ships, and military bases, in addition to the immunity of the US military in Colombia.
It is important to note that not only the practice of extradition and the presence of North American military bases in Colombia, but also the “Free” Trade Agreements and the (violent and legal) repression of those who rebel, are all part of the same strategy to guarantee imperialist control not just in Colombia, but throughout Latin America.
The time has arrived to advance a strong campaign that shows the governments of North America and the world that a large percentage, if not all, of those extradited by the Colombian government on charges of drug trafficking are not the great drug lords they would like them to appear to be, nor are they the owners of Colombian drug export companies. The fact that the real mafias continue intact, and that these mafias have been closely linked to the paramilitary, the governing classes of Colombia, and to the “Cartel of Three Letters” (read: DAS, the Colombian government’s intelligence agency) is proof of this.
The time has arrived to denounce that President Uribe, today, extradites Colombian citizens that have not sent even a gram of cocaine to the U.S. and also permits the judgment of narco-paramilitaries in U.S. courts, in order to hide the ties the Colombian government and its institutions have with these criminal groups. Such practices create many victims.
Colombian society, legislature, and judiciary must take action on this issue: Extradition is synonymous to the Colombian state’s dependence on imperialist powers, which is to say that it is about a larger issue: it also serves to silence truth and rebellion, and while it has been a fact for some, it constitutes a threat for those who remain.
Today North American and Colombian governments say that extradition will be utilized as part of the “war on terrorism,” and that in accordance with this use, the extradition of members of the insurgent groups FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army) is justified, with the purpose of smothering the spirit of the struggle of the Colombian people. But under the banner of “terrorist”, the persecution of all those not on side with the government has also been justified.
It is not only the left in Colombia that is subject to persecution, but rather whoever rebels against the aplanadura Uribista: what some have labeled President Uribe’s quashing of all dissent. Jose Obdulio Gaviria, spokesperson for the Colombian government, states in his opinion columns that whoever critiques and opposes the government is allied to terrorism, is forgiving towards terrorism, is an ideologue of terrorism, and will certainly end up being treated as a terrorist. The public accusations towards the opposition based on this malevolent theory of this fascist regime will cause many people to suffer the consequences of the “war on terrorism” and could, under this logic, be extradited.
It is clear that this fight against terrorism is one more excuse to justify the repression and the limiting of the rights of the people. The justification for the extradition of Colombians to the US is the same justification used by President Uribe to go beyond his discretionary capacity in the navigation of external relations to sign an agreement with the US government to station of US troops and military equipment in Colombia, which obviously goes far beyond a simple addition to the agreements and treaties signed in 1959.
Here you have the real motivation of the US and Colombian governments' politics of extradition: to maintain control and “ensure the security of the hemisphere,” as the Comando Sur puts it in his “Strategy for Latin America up to 2013.” It is for this reason that extradition and Colombia’s dependence on imperialist interests must cease.
A voice of courage from my prison for all Colombian victims of extradition.
Strength, resistance and dignity.
EFRAIN GUERRERO SANCHEZ
Combita, November 2009.
traduit par Catherine Kendler