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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 08:32 AM
Original message
2,000 bodies found--the result of a Pentagon/USAID program in Colombia. Why fund this and not...
universal free health care, jobs programs, saving our educational system, keeping our libraries open, R & D for innovative products such as 'green' energy, renovating the voting system to remove the 'TRADE SECRET' code machines and restore transparency, and any number of awesomely beneficial programs that we could be funding and are underfunding or not funding at all?

Here's my post on the La Macarena massacre, just discovered,--what one investigator described as "an infinity of corpses"--in a area of Colombia that has been a special focus of U.S. and Colombian military operations.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

The grave markers have dates of 2005-2010 (but no names). Local people say that the bodies are local political activists--union leaders, human rights workers, community organizers--many of whom have disappeared over the last five years. The Colombian government and military have apparently used their $6 BILLION in U.S. funding to 'cleanse' targeted areas of the political opposition. U.S. military involvement in killing civilians has not been established, but the Pentagon/USAID plan for La Macarena--laid out in a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report (link at my OP)--points to some level of U.S. complicity in this Vietnam-style "pacification."

President Obama's 2011 budget cuts funding to Colombia by 11% or 20% (I've seen various figures), but it is still about half a billion dollars for the next year alone. Total visible funding for Colombia from the Bushwhacks plus the Obama administration in another ten year commitment to Colombia, will be about $10 billion, but that doesn't count the costs of the new U.S./Colombia military agreement, which involves U.S. military use of at least SEVEN military bases in Colombia, renovation of at least one base, the probable hidden cost of a new eighth base (on the Guarjira peninsula overlooking Venezuela's main oil reserves, facilities and shipping, in the Gulf of Venezuela, only 20 miles from the Venezuelan border), an infusion of U.S. planes and pilots, USN ships, and US high tech surveillance and weaponry into Colombia, doubling of existing forces (about 1,500 U.S. soldiers and U.S. 'contractors,' with escalation clauses), and potential U.S. military use of all civilian infrastructure in Colombia. (And all of this includes total diplomatic immunity for U.S. soldiers and 'contractors.')

Adding in these costs, in the ten year agreement, plus 'black budget' costs for covert ops (hard to estimate but likely significant), costs of the private and public bureaucracies in Washington which design and report on such activities, propaganda/disinformation costs, lobbying, travel, hobnobbing, partying and so forth--and I think a guestimate of $20 billion is not unrealistic (2000 to 2020 AD). And that's if the Pentagon doesn't decide to expand the war in Colombia to its oil rich neighbors, Venezuela and Ecuador. (In that case, all bets are off, as to estimating the potential costs, not just in dollars, but in lives and good will in the hemisphere. We have already lost substantial good will as a consequence of this military agreement with Colombia and the sneaky U.S. support for the rightwing military coup in Honduras.)

So tell me, why are we doing this--and not doing something better with $10 to $20 billion taxpayer dollars? The highly corrupt U.S. 'war on drugs' has failed. The cocaine just keeps on flowing out of Colombia. The FARC guerillas--a domestic insurgency that has been fighting the fascist Colombian government for over 40 years--are not going to go away. They may be driven out of certain areas but, with zero effort by the government to solve endemic poverty, and with continued Colombian military and death squad brutality against civilians, they will come back. The cost of trying to exterminate the FARC guerrillas has been displacement of 3 BILLION peasant farmers (hundreds of thousands of whom have fled into neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador--who care for these refugees--but most of whom have been driven into urban squalor, internally in Colombia), and the murders of tens of thousands of PEACEFUL people who merely want to form a union or who advocate for the poor.

Both the U.S. "war on drugs" and the U.S./Colombian war on the FARC guerrillas and on civilians satisfy Einstein's definition of insanity. "Insanity," he said, "Is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Why is the U.S. in Colombia? Why is their 40+ year civil war any of our business--except to try to be peacemakers? Why have we sided with a government and military who have one of the worst human rights records on earth? Why has everything we have done there resulted in more mayhem? Why don't we stop being insane?

And what the hell are we doing moving the U.S. military onto at least seven Colombian military bases for "full spectrum" military operations in the Southern Hemisphere (as a USAF document has revealed)?

President Obama may have cut a bit into the Colombian war budget, but I expect those cuts to be restored when Jim DeMint (Puke-SC) gets hold of it. He seems to be running U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. But whatever Colombia gets larded with--$500 million? $700 million? One billion?--and whatever the U.S. military in Colombia gets larded with, and whatever all the attendant visible and covert costs may be--it is money grossly ill spent on an insane strategy of "war" as the solution to every problem, and, when that doesn't work..hey, what do we do next? Oh, yeah, more war.

One more credit to President Obama. The $500 million he has committed to Colombia is half military, half non-military--a better formula than the military-heavy Bushwhack budgets, although I don't know how much of the "non-military" funding will go to agencies like the USAID for war support activities (civilian cosmetics for military operations) and how much will actually do some good as to poverty reduction. Even so, and considering the ten-year U.S. military commitment, the Obama administration is continuing the policy of adopting Colombia's war as our war, and further risking U.S. military involvement in killing Colombians and in atrocities against civilians, with no end in sight of the failed "war on drugs" or the civil war. The Colombian military's atrocious practice of "false positives"--of falsely identifying murdered civilians as FARC guerrillas, and even luring youths with the promise of jobs, murdering them and dressing them up like FARC guerrillas--exposes both the strategic and moral failure of their "war." How can we continue to support such depravity with any amount of funding?
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
1. Correction: 3 MILLION displaced peasants, not "3 billion." nt
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Looks as if that three million has recently been updated, adjusted upwardly:
Report: Gangs tied to paramilitaries spur Colombia violence
By Arthur Brice, CNN
February 3, 2010 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)

(CNN) -- Criminal gangs that emerged from Colombia's former paramilitary organizations are carrying out massacres, rapes and extortion, a human rights group said Wednesday.

Nowhere is that violence more pronounced than in Medellin, which recorded more than 200 slayings in January alone. The city's homicide rate also more than doubled in 2009 from the previous year.

Bogota, the nation's capital, also is seeing a surge in violence, with more than 100 killings reported last month.

A report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch details widespread abuses by successor groups to the paramilitary coalition of 37 armed groups called the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, better known by its Spanish acronym AUC.

The Colombian government has said it decommissioned more than 30,000 AUC members from 2003 to 2006, but Human Rights Watch said many of those demobilizations were fraudulent. Large numbers of heavily armed paramilitaries never left the organizations, or new recruits took the place of those who stepped down, the rights group said.

~snip~
"The successor groups are engaging in widespread and serious abuses against civilians, including massacres, killings, rapes, threats and extortion," the report said. "They have repeatedly targeted human rights defenders, trade unionists, displaced persons including Afro-Colombians who seek to recover their land, victims of the AUC who are seeking justice and community members who do not follow their orders."

The resurgence of paramilitary groups also has led to the aggravation of a serious problem in Colombia -- the internal displacement of up to 4 million of the country's 45 million citizens.

"The rise of the groups has coincided with a significant increase in the rates of internal displacement around the country from 2004 through at least 2007," the report said.

More:
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/02/03/colomb...

Thank you for spending the time and energy. This is valuable information.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
3. Executing justice: Which side are we on?
Executing justice: Which side are we on?
An interview with Colombian human rights activist Padre Javier Giraldo, S.J.

by Ruth Goring

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The government of Colombia has long been engaged in a war with two Marxist insurgent groups, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Army of Liberation). The U.S. government currently bolsters the Colombian armed forces through Plan Colombia, but most Americans receive little news of the conflict and fail to realize that nearly all its casualties are civilians.

In 1988 Padre Javier Giraldo, a Jesuit priest, was instrumental in founding a human rights organization, originally Catholic and now ecumenical: the Comisin Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace, generally shortened to Justicia y Paz). Over the years Padre Javier has helped compile Proyecto Nunca Ms (the Never Again Project), a massive database of human rights violations in his country.

Last year 4,900 political homicides and 734 forced disappearances were recorded in Colombia, according to the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights of Colombia. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and United Nations reporting agencies state that 70-80 percent of political murders in that country are the work of right-wing paramilitary forces supported by major economic interests. The government claims to oppose the paramilitaries as well as the guerrillas, yet according to many eyewitness reports the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AUC) works hand in hand with the army. A key theme of Padre Javier's work has been impunity--the Colombian government's failure to punish, or even properly investigate, crimes committed by paramilitaries, army personnel, and officials of the state.

PRISM: Tell us about the work you have done to bring to light human rights abuses in Colombia.

JG: I worked for some years with CINEP, the Center for Investigation and Popular Education, founded by Jesuits in the late 1960s. Its purpose is to promote education and justice among Colombia's people. However, it became increasingly evident that Colombia needed a small church-based organization that would confront issues of human rights very directly. Most of the Catholic bishops were very tied to the government; they didn't denounce any abuses except those committed by guerrillas.

Among progressive religious orders we began exploring how we might protect the human rights of victims of the Colombian state. The bishops were not interested in helping, but in early 1988 the superiors of 25 orders (which we call congregations) came together to found the Comisin de Justicia y Paz. Its goal was to provide humanitarian and legal support, especially in areas of intense conflict--Santander, Valle del Cauca, Magdalena Medio, Putumayo, and Urab. We would gather facts about human rights abuses in a databank and would publicize situations of crisis. Some cases we would take to the courts. Our staff developed close relationships with some impoverished communities that were suffering in the midst of the armed conflict and that gained courage to declare themselves peace communities.

I served as the general secretary of Justicia y Paz until the end of 1998 and was often the spokesperson for victims in cases brought before Colombia's courts. In those eleven years I did not witness a single act of justice. Not one government or military official who committed crimes was sanctioned.

PRISM: How would you summarize your analysis of Colombia's crisis?

JG: In the late 1990s I wrote an article, "Lo que en Colombia se llama justicia" (What Is Called Justice in Colombia), published in our Justicia y Paz journal. It recounts 10 exemplary cases that reveal the mechanisms of impunity in our country--how testimony is manipulated, victims or their families are threatened and silenced, false testimony is presented, essential documents are "misplaced." Then I pose a global question. We turn to the state to sanction human rights violations, assign reparations, bring about justice--but the state itself has committed the crimes and is the criminal. How can we turn to the victimizer for justice? It's a terrible contradiction.

My conclusion was that the Colombian state is contradictory. It tries to fulfill two functions. On the one hand it's a violent, discriminatory institution that must favor a small wealthy minority. Even basic necessities are denied to the great majority of its people. By its very nature, at its core, it is not democratic. On the other hand, in public discourse it presents itself as a state based on law, one that respects and implements justice, human rights norms, democratic laws.

How do government functionaries manage this contradiction? They maintain a duality: the parastate, a structure that is illegal and clandestine, increasingly takes over the dirty work, the repression. It doesn't appear to be part of the state. For many years now Colombia's government has been creating and maintaining these structures. The legal, constitutional structure exists parallel to structures of a parastate and paramilitary.

More:
http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/colombia/doc/giraldo1.ht...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 02:32 PM
Response to Original message
4. The mass grave at La Macarena is actually draining into the area's water supply.
Cannot imagine anything more horrendous: the residue of the tortured, mutilated, dismembered victims is so massive it's part of the water used by other people in the region.

No END to the suffering created by these SOA-trained death squads, and their US taxpayer-funded government forces. Unbelievable.

Google translated from a Colombian radio website:
Chilling find mass grave with 2 thousand dead in Colombia

The authorities of the municipality of La Macarena in Meta department, complained of a pit with thousands of unidentified bodies were buried in the cemetery for army troops

Norberto Suarez, director of Unity of Exhumation of The Office in the eastern city of Villavicencio, said that if confirmed the existence of a mass grave containing 2,000 bodies, would be "The biggest discovery of bodies in the history of Colombia " in one place.

A spokesman for the Attorney General in Bogota revealed that a mission of the Technical Investigation Corps of the agency, CTI, and was in the cemetery and found the existence of a "large number" of bodies in the grave but only made a few burials.

"We become the site of the disposal of war dead"Said Eliecer Moreno Vargas, mayor of the municipality in whose territory the greater part of the natural park of La Macarena, one of the most valuable biological reserves in Colombia.

Residents of La Macarena said they suspect that among the graves are his relatives disappeared during the last four yearsDenied that they were guerrillas and demanded the chance to prove it.

Carolina Hoyos Villamil, vice president of the Human Rights Committee of the eastern region of Lower Ariari asked the Attorney General's Office undertake its own investigation on the Pit of La Macarena.

In a letter to the State control agency, said Villamil Holes "our concern that possibly in this cemetery are persons in our database are recorded as missing.

The organization advocates Villamil Hoyos, among other cases of human rights violations, to elucidate the fate of 63 civilians in the region of La Macarena forcibly disappeared at the hands of unidentified armed groups.

Excess human bodies recently buried in La Macarena is polluting the waters of the population served, according to reports it has received the Ombudsman's Office.
More:
http://www.infobae.com/mundo/497979-601275-0-Escalofria...
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
13. Colombia is a man-made Haitian earthquake disaster...
"Excess human bodies recently buried in La Macarena (are) polluting the waters of the population served, according to reports it has received the Ombudsman's Office."

U.S. policy is creating death pollution in one place, while trying to help clean it up in another.
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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
5. ....
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
6. Shock and Awe, one nation at a time.
Edited on Wed Feb-03-10 02:36 PM by WinkyDink
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 08:57 PM
Response to Original message
7. Colombian Paramilitaries Successors Called a Threat
Colombian Paramilitaries Successors Called a Threat
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: February 3, 2010

CARACAS, Venezuela Criminal armies that emerged from the ashes of the Colombian governments attempt to disband paramilitary groups are spreading their reach across the countrys economy while engaging in a broad range of rights abuses, including massacres, rapes and forced displacement, a human rights group said Wednesday.

A report by the group, Human Rights Watch, detailed the activities of the paramilitary successor groups, which feed off Colombias cocaine trade. The drug trade remains lucrative despite Washingtons channeling of more than $5 billion of security and antinarcotics aid to Colombia, making it a top recipient of United States aid outside the Middle East.

One major reason why combating these groups is not a priority is that its hard for the current government to acknowledge that a significant part of its security policy is failing, said Jos Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch, speaking in Bogot, Colombia.

Seeking to influence the Obama administrations policies toward Colombia, the group recommended delaying ratification of a long-awaited trade deal until Colombias government vigorously and effectively confronts the criminal groups, which succeeded paramilitaries formed by landowners decades ago to combat guerrillas.

More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/world/americas/04colo...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
8. United States Policies in Columbia Support Mass Murder
United States Policies in Columbia Support Mass Murder

Over the past two years, Colombia has been Washingtons third largest recipient of foreign aid, behind only Israel and Egypt. In July of 2000, the U.S. Congress approved a $1.3 billion war package for Colombia to support President Pastranas Plan Colombia. Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion counter-narcotics initiative. In addition to this financial support, the US also trains the Colombian military.

Colombias annual murder rate is 30,000. It is reported that around 19,000 of these murders are linked to illegal right-wing paramilitary forces. Many leaders of these paramilitary groups were once officers in the Colombian military, trained at the U.S. Military run School of the Americas.

According to the Human Rights Watch Report, a 120-page report titled The Sixth Division: Military-Paramilitary Ties and US Policy in Colombia, Colombian armed forces and police continue to work closely with right-wing paramilitary groups. The government of President Pastrana and the US administration have played down evidence of this cooperation. Jim Lobe says that Human Rights Watch holds the Pastrana administration responsible for the current, violent situation because of its dramatic and costly failure to take prompt, effective control of security forces, break their persistent ties to paramilitary groups, and ensure respect for human rights.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair contend that the war in Colombia isnt about drugs. Its about the annihilation of popular uprisings by Indian peasants fending off the ravages of oil companies, cattle barons and mining firms. It is a counter-insurgency war, designed to clear the way for American corporations to set up shop in Colombia.

Cockburn and St. Clair examined two Defense Department commissioned reports, the RAND Report and a paper written by Gabriel Marcella, titled Plan Colombia: the Strategic and Operational Imperatives. Both reports recommend that the US step up its military involvement in Colombia. In addition, the reports make several admissions about the paramilitaries and their links to the drug trade, regarding human rights abuses by the US-trained Colombian military, and about the irrationality of crop fumigation.

Throughout these past two years, Colombian citizens have been the victims of human rights atrocities committed by the US-trained Colombian military and linked paramilitaries. Trade unionists and human rights activists face murder, torture, and harassment. It is reported that Latin America remains the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. Since 1986, some 4,000 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia. In 2000 alone, more trade unionists were killed in Colombia than in the whole world in 1999.

More:
http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/3-u...
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 02:39 AM
Response to Original message
9. "So tell me, why are we doing this?" you ask. Delusions of empire
Edited on Thu Feb-04-10 02:43 AM by autorank
That's the tragic answer. The 'rulers' - any of our august rulers - act like they have some
special right to interfere with military force of varying proportions outside of our national
borders WHEN there is no imminent threat against us. The citizens are largely opposed to
this regardless of party until the great lie machines start up (and only convinced part of the time).
In Columbia - oh, lets see - yeah, it's the war on drugs (now that the Communists can't be claimed as
the enemy). It's something else in Iraq, something else again in Panama. The leaders use the
military as their own personal army to serve "national" (read corporate or government control)
interests.

They never stop to admit that the laws made in war trials by our own jurists state - no preemptive
invasions. That doesn't mean none by any nation other than the US, it means none. How many
times have we violated the great principal that we helped establish in Nuremberg.

Bring the troops home! Stop the lying.
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 03:54 AM
Response to Original message
10. K&R.
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 04:49 AM
Response to Original message
11. Serious answer: anybody who opposes it is labeled "soft on drugs"
And that plays well with a lot of easily manipulated people who vote. This is one of those third rails of politics that you don't touch out of fear of getting creamed in the next election. The fact that the Obama Administration is cutting the funding even a little is an unexpected step in the right direction. I guess at this point the country is so broke that he can defend it with "we can't afford to keep funding it at the levels we were".
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
12. Obama's Pact For Colombia Bases Termed "Dangerous"
February 4, 2010 at 09:18:29
Obama's Pact For Colombia Bases Termed "Dangerous"
By Sherwood Ross

The Obama administration's pact to use seven Colombian military bases accelerates "a dangerous trend in U.S. hemispheric policy," an article in The Nation magazine warns.

The White House claims the deal merely formalizes existing military cooperation but the Pentagon's 2009 budget request said it needed funds to improve one of the bases in order to conduct "full spectrum operations throughout South America" and to "expand expeditionary warfare capability."

"With a hodgepodge of treaties and projects, such as the International Law Enforcement Academy and the Merida Initiative, Obama is continuing the policies of his predecessors, spending millions to integrate the region's military, policy, intelligence and even, through Patriot Act-like legislation, judicial systems," writes historian Greg Grandin, a New York University professor.

Although much of Latin America is in the vanguard of the "anti-corporate and anti-militarist global democracy movement," Grandin writes, the Obama administration is "disappointing potential regional allies by continuing to promote a volatile mix of militarism and free-trade orthodoxy in a corridor running from Mexico to Colombia." Grandin's article in The Nation's February 8th issue is titled, "Muscling Latin America."

The fountainhead of this effort is Plan Colombia, a multibillion-dollar U.S. aid package that over the past decade "has failed to stem the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States," Grandin says, noting that more Andean coca was synthesized into cocaine in 2008 than in 1998.

Underlying the anti-drug fight, however, is a counterinsurgency struggle for control of "ungoverned spaces" via a "clear, hold and build" sequence urged by the U.S. military to weaken Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces(FARC). The Bush White House condoned the right-wing paramilitaries who, along with their narcotraficante allies "now control about 10 million acres, roughly half of the country's most fertile land," Grandin reports. They also spread terror in the countryside and are responsible for many killings and for driving peasants from their land.

Grandin reports that the paras "have taken control of hundreds of municipal governments, establishing what Colombian social scientist Leon Valencia calls "true local dictatorships,' consolidating their property seizures and deepening their ties to narcos, landed elites and politicians."

What's more, "The country's sprawling intelligence apparatus is infiltrated by this death squad/narco combine, as is its judiciary and Congress, where more than forty deputies from the governing party are under investigation for ties to (the right-wing) AUC (United Self Defense Forces).

More:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Obama-s-Pact-For-Colom...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-05-10 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
14. Colombia's new death squads exposed
Colombia's new death squads exposed
Thursday 04 February 2010by Tom Mellen

New death squads have arisen to replace Colombia's notorious right-wing paramilitary groups - and they are committing the same acts of terrorism against trade unionists as their predecessors, a prominent US-based rights organisation has warned.

Under pressure from human rights groups and Washington, Bogota has overseen the demobilisation of over 31,000 fighters from the so-called United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, or AUC, in recent years.

But dozens of groups have emerged as successors, engaging in activities ranging from mass murder to extortion, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The death squads were organised by rural landowners, ostensibly to counter leftwing guerilla groups. They soon became a powerful, lawless force in much of the country, with links to senior rightwing politicians and drugs cartels.

The US government has declared the AUC a terrorist organisation, and government pressure eventually forced the paramilitaries to disband between 2003 and 2006.

The 113-page Paramilitaries' Heirs: The New Face of Violence in Colombia report, based on nearly two years of research, documents widespread and serious abuses by the new groups.

According to the report, the groups regularly commit massacres, killings, forced displacement, rape, and extortion, and "create a threatening atmosphere in the communities they control."

Often, they target trade unionists, human rights defenders, victims of the paramilitaries who are seeking justice and community members who do not follow their orders.

More:
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/conte...
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