Pubdate: Wed, 17 June 1998
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) 
Section: Sec. 1, page 26


WILMETTE -- Just when we're struggling to get our government to disclose all
the dirty deeds and immoral acts committed in Guatemala and other countries
around the world, we're repeating the same abuses in Colombia ("Colombian
drug traffickers' links to rebels worries U.S.," Main news, June 3).

Replace the words "drug trafficker" for "communist" in any arbitrary way,
and the U.S. will send jets and weapons, train military personnel at our
School of the Americas, whatever it takes. Our officials say there's a
threat to our "national security." What threat? Does the U.S. want to
protect another corrupt, evil government that has the nerve to call itself a
"democracy" because it holds elections? Naturally, the Pentagon is in favor
of more aid, as are the usual suspects in Congress.

But look at the reality of the situation. Just as in Guatemala, El Salvador
and other places in Latin America, the Colombian rebels are trying to change
a corrupt system that for more than 500 years has grown steadily worse in
its abuse of the rights of the peasants, workers and the average people of
the country. The ruling elite control everything with the protection of the
military. The government and military are corrupt, bought off and often
themselves in league with drug cartels and paramilitary death squads.

Who are the big-time drug traffickers in Colombia? The peasants who grow the
crop and evidently have the support and protection of the revolutionary
forces in exchange for money? Or the military and the government, which have
access to the weapons, planes, money, courts, and the whole system? Aren't
we backing the wrong side?

The reason we're hearing about the problem now is that the Colombian
government has been suffering big defeats by the revolutionary forces. The
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is an increasingly large group
that stands up to the corruption, lies, oppression and, as with resistance
groups elsewhere, believes that it has no other choice but to take up arms.

Last winter, FARC announced it would launch a "clandestine political
movement that will be able to link together all Colombians who want to
struggle for change and for true democracy." Their protest marches and union
strikes involving thousands are met with unspeakable human-rights abuses. As
we try to destroy these people, there will be thousands more who will take
up arms. There will be more repression of rights, more abuses and, once
again, we'll be responsible for supporting a repressive regime as in
Vietnam, Guatemala or Indonesia, for that matter.

We need to let our representatives know that the best and moral thing to do
is to give the Colombian government and military no money or materials of
any kind and spend our money arresting the dealers here and treating the
addicted customers of this product--the people of the U.S.

Nancy Fleck Myers

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett