Those Colombians and their Drug Problems

I didn’t have the stomach to watch ‘Maria Full of Grace’. I saw the poster and was instinctively repulsed. So I wasn’t surprised to see this review of it by a Colombian writer. In the review, the writer notes how all the Colombian characters are unsympathetic and the only decent characters in the film are some American agents. How corrosive the Colombian drug trade is, how it corrupts the innocent youths of America. Even the movie ‘Traffic’, which I liked, presented this same image. The reality is rather different.

A story from the AP. A number of US Army personnel who had been stationed in Colombia might be extradited to Colombia to face charges. Five US soldiers were arrested after 35 pounds of cocaine was found on a US military plane heading to Texas from Colombia. One of them has already been released. As usual, the story is replete with anonymous sources from the US military and Attorney General’s office. One such official noted that the troops remain under the jurisdiction of the US regardless of where they’re stationed (that’s a page out of 19th century colonialism in case anyone was wondering, and is called ‘extraterritoriality’).

A Colombian friend noted the irony. The troops are there to fight the drug war. The troops are smuggling the drugs. The drug smuggling justifies the troops being there.

And all the while, the peasants and unionists are liquidated, the territories taken over, the multinationals moving in.

Speaking of the liquidations, another Colombian reader specifically asked that I address this most recent massacre in Colombia, which I alluded to in the anniversary email but have yet to report on in detail (I apologize). There is an open letter signed by Aviva Chomsky, Leonardo Boff, and others about the massacre in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, to Alvaro Uribe Velez, and a piece by Javier Giraldo, Colombia’s best known human rights activist with a long history and connection to Apartado. Both are in Spanish. I will, as I’ve said, try to produce something in english soon.