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    Recently, a friend attended a meeting in Vermont to discuss organizing against U.S. military involvement in Colombia. One of the speakers at the meeting spent what seemed (to him) to be an inordinate amount of time discussing some of the human rights transgressions of the FARC and ELN forces there. Because these transgressions are of genuine concern among many here in the United States, it seems important that I begin this piece by addressing them first.

         It is certainly true that the revolutionary forces in Colombia have committed acts that violate our sense of right and wrong. Sometimes these acts were committed by renegade members of those forces and other times they were part of the forces' overall strategy. In the former cases, those renegade members were disciplined. In the latter, it is important to remember that it is easy for those of us not in the middle of Colombia's decades long civil war to forget that police, paramilitary members, soldiers and supporters of all the aforementioned are the enemy of not only the revolutionary forces but all those involved in the quest for social and economic justice in Colombia. Progressive Colombians cannot forget that it was the government that precipitated the murders of many members of the rebel forces when FARC and other groups laid down their arms in 1990 to form the electoral party known as the Patriotic Union. While this may be little solace to those who cannot support killing in any form, it does much toward explaining many actions of FARC and ELN.

         That being said, it is most important to recall in our work to get the US out of Colombia that peace will not come to the region without social and economic justice, and that that justice will not come without the participation of the revolutionary forces and their supporters, preferably through negotiations. The presence of the U.S. military in all its guises--weaponry, mercenaries, advisers and troops--will not bring peace nor justice, only a larger and bloodier war. As citizens of the United States our primary role in the struggle for justice in Colombia is to do whatever we can to end U.S. military involvement in that country. This is a large enough task in itself, given that the stated U.S. intention is to fight until the revolution is defeated. Washington has no desire to see any rebel forces represented in any Colombian government.

         How do we do end U.S. involvement? This war presents an unusual organizational approach for antiwar and other northern Americans in that it incorporates the war on drugs, the use of questionable chemicals and biotechnology as weapons, globalization, and plain old imperialism, just to name the most obvious facets of the conflict. Although the situations are different, it is important to note that all but the antiwar and anti-imperialist groups were nascent (if in existence at all) during the struggle to end the U.S. war against the Vietnamese, whereas today groups working on the environment and the injustices of the drug war have well developed networks of their own. In addition, there exists a substantial element within these movements with a rather developed anti-capitalist analysis, thanks to the growing international struggle against global capitalism. Because of these factors, the movement against the war can bring activists from all those groups fighting these various phenomena of the U.S. empire together. In doing so, we can make clear to the American people that there are few accidents in U.S. policy and the only real way to change the actions of the government in Washington is to change the form of that government and the economic system it is beholden to. While certainly a tall order, it is not an impossible one. It will, however, require a commitment and approach that takes into account all strategies and concerns of those involved.

         Perhaps the most obvious connection to many is this war's connection to the war on drugs, especially since that is how the Pentagon is trying to market its involvement to the people of the U.S.. It is up to us however, to take this marketing and turn it around. Families whose children are sitting in prison, whether they come from the communities of urban poor or middle class suburbia, know the war on drugs is wrong and is waged primarily for the benefit of those who profit from it--druglords, police agencies, and various federal agencies including, but not limited to, the DEA and military. Those who are victims of this idiotic enterprise know that drugs will be grown and sold as long as people want them. They will not be eradicated by war nor by the use of biochemical agents that not only risk destroying food crops by changing the genetic makeup of those crops, but poison the land and the people who live in the regions where those agents are sprayed.

         This, quite obviously, is where the environmental movement's involvement is crucial. After all, it is their work and research which has increased the ordinary citizen's awareness of what corporations like Monsanto are doing to the world's agriculture in the name of profit. It is not much of a step to invite them into any movement formed to end U.S. involvement in the Colombia war. Their knowledge of the pesticide and biotech industry will be invaluable in reaching out to those whose concerns revolve around keeping the earth a livable place. In return, those in this movement who are not completely aware of how U.S. imperialism works will be able to round out their understanding of why biotech corporations are willing to mortgage our future for today's profits (just like the weapons industry).

         Despite Bill Clinton's recent proclamation to the Colombian people that Plan Colombia is not "Yankee imperialism", it is. The U.S. has no desire to see a government in Colombia that does not cater to the will of Washington and the corporations it represents. Most importantly, in Colombia's case, the U.S. has no desire to see a government in Colombia that would dare to keep most of its oil earnings and use them to take care of its people and spread the Bolivarian dream of a liberated and united Latin America. This dream is part and parcel of FARC's program. In keeping with its policy of not allowing the revolutionaries any say in ruling Colombia, Washington has made clear its displeasure with attempts by various European governments to arrange peace talks between the rebels and Colombia's current government that would give FARC and ELN a role in a future coalition government. These actions by Washington expose one of the primary reasons for the increased U.S. military role in the region (the other being control of oil resources and profits)--they want the revolution destroyed so it can never have a say in governing Colombia. This is in spite of the fact that FARC governs about a third of the country already. As in Vietnam, the United States seems to think it can reverse the desire of a significant segment of a country's people for liberation through the sheer strength of its military arsenal. As in Vietnam, they are likely to fail. It is up to us to help end this madness before it further kills, maims, and destroys Colombia's people and their land, as a similar madness did in Vietnam.

         The other less talked about, but equally important, aspect of the U.S. Plan Colombia is the economic element. To call a spade a spade, this part of the plan is the standard IMF/World Bank plan for developing countries. In other words, since Colombia agreed to receive a $2.7 billion loan from these institutions in December 1999, the government is expected to privatize its state-owned power utilities, allow direct investment in its oil industry, further privatize its state-owned banks and telecommunications companies, and cut government spending in order to fulfill IMF requirements that require governments to raise large sums of cash so a larger percentage of their future revenues can go towards paying off the debt most developing nations have accrued. These demands by the IMF creditor nations (primarily the United States) have led to protests in Colombia against the resulting layoffs and price increases. More layoffs and price increases are certain.

         So, in our organizing, let us keep in mind that no side in any war is immune from war's excesses, but the only way to end this war is to support the goals of those who want real social and economic justice in Colombia. For us in the United States, that means we must oppose any and all military aid to the Colombian government, no matter what the guise is used to present it to us. In addition, those who can give support to the revolutionary forces, critical and otherwise, should, although such support is not essential to our primary goal: getting the U.S. out of Colombia. Northeast Research Associates Pie in the Sky Farm 93 Dwinell Road United States doing some building for the people, they Marshfield, Vermont