At a press conference in January 2019, then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton made sure a notepad that had the words “5,000 U.S. troops to Colombia” scrawled on it was visible for photographers. Pretending it was inadvertent, he signalled a threat to Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro. Three weeks ago, a brigade of specially trained U.S. troops began arriving in Colombia.
The troops are positioned in Bogotá and to the north of the state of Santander, close to the border with Venezuela. The brigade is part of a U.S. Department of Defense plan to send relatively small groups of specially trained U.S. troops and “advisers” along with significant numbers of U.S. contracted mercenaries, called Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs.) They hope to gain an edge in war zones where the imperialist military has been mired down and unable to defeat the people’s resistance. All under the command of U.S. Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson, similar brigades have previously been sent to Afghanistan and to Africa. This is the first in Latin America.
Their mission is touted by Trump and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper as “an enhanced counternarcotics mission.” For two decades the U.S. has used coca production and cocaine trafficking as an excuse to keep troops in Colombia and to supply the Colombian military with billions of dollars and advanced military equipment.
The cover story couldn’t possibly be more hypocritical. The U.S. is the world’s largest cocaine market, and U.S. spy groups have been implicated in numerous drug trafficking scandals to finance other illegal operations ever since the 1950-1953 Korean War. The real mission of the SFAB being organized now is part of the overall U.S. plan: to defeat the armed revolutionary struggle in Colombia — the most enduring in Latin America — and to strengthen the Colombian military for an invasion of Venezuela. They aim to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro and destroy the Bolivarian revolutionary process that has lifted millions of Venezuelan people out of poverty.
The top brass in the U.S. and in the Colombian military don’t do all that much to conceal the true mission. The scam indictment of President Maduro and other leaders in Venezuela was handed down by a U.S. court in April. The indictment draws a phony link between Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and the drug trade.
That was meant to strengthen the imperialist narrative that the U.S. is fighting against drug traffickers. It’s easy enough to find more candid language about the true mission.
In the May 28 issue of Army Times: “U.S. officials have blamed Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro for failing to clamp down on militant groups and allowing their activities to continue unchallenged.” They blame President Maduro for the Colombian revolutionary movement that precedes the Venezuelan revolutionary process by decades. Then, there is the May 2020 issue of Business Insider: “Experts believe the move is actually meant to keep an eye on neighboring Venezuela, where the U.S. has attempted to oust current president Nicholás Maduro.”
A long series of Colombian administrations have kept the Colombian military in the orbit of U.S. imperialism: harassing, trying to politically isolate and serving as a launching pad for violent attempts to end the revolutionary process in Venezuela on behalf of Washington. Just last month, 60 mercenaries that had set off from Colombia in boats with a plan to kidnap President Maduro were captured and arrested. One of their leaders, Jordan Goudreau, had met with Trump and with Secretary of State Pompeo. That was denied by the White House, of course.
The attempted coup was easily defeated by the Venezuelan military and by a local group of fishers who were armed. The mercenaries were arrested as they landed along the north coast of Venezuela. But there were additional mercenaries already in Venezuela, waiting for the invading armed unit with arms and vehicles. Over the ensuing weeks, the Bolivarian forces captured them all.
Previous to that, in the summer of 2019, President Maduro revealed that they had foiled another coup attempt that the Colombia government, Israel and the government of Chile were all backing. John Bolton was named as one of the co-conspirators and was more than likely the driving force. Venezuela operatives had infiltrated their planning meetings and had learned that their plans included the assassination of President Maduro.
Colombian people don’t benefit in the least from their government’s collaboration with the U.S. empire. As COVID-19 has spread through cities and the countryside in Colombia, the poor hang red cloth out their windows as a signal to ask for food donations, or go door to door to ask for food. The government claims it has distributed food that is supposed to alleviate hunger during the pandemic, yet hundreds of thousands are desperately hungry.
By contrast, Venezuela has canceled rent payments and credit card payments, ordered that telecommunications could not be cut off, has banned layoffs and has taken other measures in the face of the pandemic. This is on top of the tremendous achievements in housing, medical care, literacy and other areas since the late President Hugo Chávez wrenched Venezuela from the grip of U.S. imperialism and empowered the Indigenous, Afro-Venezuelans and the poor.
U.S. troops and weapons out of Colombia!