U.S. hands off the Colombian and Venezuelan people!

Colombian teachers went on strike Sept. 12 to demand government compliance with the peace accords. At least 10 teachers have been killed since President Iván Duque took office.
Photo: Prensa Latina

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued an “orange alert” to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces on Sept. 3. The alert means the Bolivarian military must remain on standby for possible aggression from neighboring Colombia after President Iván Duque ordered the mobilization of military units at the border.

“We know that there is an attempt to try to scale a set of false flag operations,” Maduro said during an event marking the ninth anniversary of the Bolivarian Military University. “The government of Colombia … now intends to maneuver a false flag operation to attack Venezuela and start a military conflict against our country.”

Duque is a close ally of the United States in its effort to overthrow President Maduro and quash the Venezuelan people’s socialist aspirations. Earlier this year, Colombia provided the staging ground for a so-called “humanitarian aid” effort by Washington and its puppet, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, as part of a failed coup attempt.

In a televised speech Sept. 9, Maduro added: “We have evidence of conspiracies being hatched in Colombia to send terrorist groups to attack civilian and military targets.” He denounced Colombia’s efforts to get military officials to defect and the targeting of Venezuela’s radar, air defense and logistical systems.

Maduro also ordered a military exercise called “Peace and Sovereignty” from Sept. 10 to Sept. 28. The exercises will be held in the northern states of Amazonas, Tachira Apure and Zulia, which share a border with Colombia.

The latest threats from Colombia–the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. military aid–come as the Trump regime continues to tighten the blockade of Venezuela and its close ally, socialist Cuba.

Colombia government betrays peace accords

In this tense climate, on Aug. 29, a section of the Colombian political party Alternative Communal Revolutionary Forces (FARC), including some of its former peace negotiators, announced their intention to resume armed struggle and reform the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). 

All sectors of the Colombian left are committed to peace with social justice, including the faction that took up arms. Many are still committed to the 2016 peace process agreed in Havana, although by all accounts the Colombian government has failed its commitments to it. 

Since 2016, acts of terror by paramilitary death squads targeting demobilized guerrillas as well as labor activists, human rights defenders, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and opposition political figures have continued, with more than 700 people killed according to some sources.  Even relatives of the demobilized guerrillas have been targeted. 

The assassination of community leader María del Pilar Hurtado in the northern province of Córdoba sparked national demonstrations on July 26 demanding government compliance with the peace accords and an end to the killings.

Following the Aug. 29 announcement of the FARC-EP’s reconstitution, the U.S.-backed Duque regime accused Venezuela of providing aid and refuge to the insurgency. Venezuela rejected that accusation and pointed the finger of blame clearly at Duque’s regime for the breakdown of the peace accords. 

“It is incredible that Iván Duque, with absolute impertinence … looks to displace his exclusive responsibility in the planned dismantling of the peace process,” stated an Aug. 30 Venezuelan Foreign Ministry communique. 

On Sept. 11, the Organization of American States invoked the 1947 Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty (IRAT) mutual defense agreement against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, heightening the threat of U.S.-backed military regime change aggression.

Murder in Colombia: Made in USA

It’s been said that Colombia is the linchpin of U.S. military strategy in Latin America. This is demonstrated by the fact that Colombia recently became the first Latin American country to affiliate with NATO. Currently the U.S. maintains nine military bases in Colombia.

A July 18 article in Foreign Policy described U.S. efforts to pressure Colombia to buy 15 of the latest Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, citing Washington’s “alarm” at the situation in Venezuela. Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, commander of U.S. Air Force Southern, said the sale would “be a great advancement for not only their capability to defend their sovereign air space” but would also increase Colombia’s ability to work with U.S. forces in the region.

As the Washington Office on Latin America reported in May 2017: “Since ‘Plan Colombia’ began with a large appropriation in 2000, the United States has given Colombia over $10 billion in assistance. Of this amount, about 70 percent went to Colombia’s military and police forces. Major initiatives included U.S.-backed military offensives against the guerrillas, forced eradication of more than 4 million acres of coca, the training of over 100,000 personnel, and the delivery or upgrade of over 100 helicopters.”

Ultimately, it’s up to the Colombian people to determine the best means to continue their long and heroic struggle for a New Colombia based on real peace with social justice, free of U.S. military occupation and exploitation of giant transnational monopolies that exploit the labor, land and other resources that rightly belong to the people.

In this struggle, the people of Colombia, Venezuela and the whole region will need to rely upon and strengthen one another in the anti-imperialist spirit of Simón Bolívar, the 19th century liberation hero who sought to unite the peoples of South America. In that spirit, the 2010 Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, along with the 2004 Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America-People’s Trade Treaty and Petro-Caribe were created, showing the way forward to create a zone of peace.

For the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement in the U.S., our focus, our message and our actions must be clear: U.S. and Colombia hands off Venezuela, U.S. out of Colombia and all of Latin America!