<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Welcome to Your Colony

An Open Letter to George W. Bush on His Visit to My Country, Colombia


By Laura del Castillo Matamoros
Reporting from Bogotá, Colombia

November 22, 2004

His Excellency
GEORGE W. BUSH
President of the United States of America
Cartagena de Indias

Your Eminence:

It gives me great pleasure to greet you, especially now that we – in this disgracefully third-world country called Colombia, where, unbelievable as it may be, there are also newspapers and television – know that GOOD has won again. Liberty and democracy have won, those precious values of Western Judeo-Christian culture that motivate one to struggle against EVIL, manifested in gays, Muslims, feminists, activists, and other abominations of society that threaten YOUR international stability. That’s right, Mr. President: your devastating triumph in the last elections is an example of the manifest intelligence of a people concerned with preserving its sacred right to security, guided by a natural pragmatic Calvinist sensibility and basic kindness of spirit that conflates the fight against terrorism with a crusade of some very good gentlemen against some very bad guys. That’s the way things are – concrete, simple, basic, just like the average U.S. citizen.

That’s why you honor us by your presence here today in our country – excuse me, rather, I should say, in YOUR country – to meet with our own “Bushito” (an affectionate nickname, of course), President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, your most loyal and faithful servant, your “alter ego.” You are sure to be satisfied when he informs you how well Plan Colombia is going, thanks to which we have more long-distance weapons, missiles, and other devices produced by U.S. military genius. Weapons that sometimes fall, accidentally, into one rural community or another, or into some group of children playing soccer in the middle of the jungle. Who knows why the human rights groups get so outraged. What an overreaction! Everyone makes mistakes, right, Mr. President? Besides, with the technology the guerrillas have now, you never know, a soccer ball could also be a bomb.

Besides, those people don’t appreciate the noble gesture of Christian charity that your government shows when it allows us to invest a tiny fraction of the military budget in healthcare and education. Of course, it is very modest budget, one that involves the closure and/or privatization of public hospitals (but that should not matter, because an honorable Colombian should be willing to give his or life for his country, as the Army slogans say). In terms of education, there are those who complain over trifles, like the fact that 64 percent of poor children under the age of seven have no access to preschool. Well, at least the children of the politicians and businessmen, the future leaders of our country, are being educated. You just can’t please everybody! Besides, the multinational corporations do a lot for these poor children, teaching them from a young age the value of wage labor. And still they want more?

With respect to the proposed U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, another topic central to this important meeting, we could not more pleased that the negotiations are moving forward. Remember that the gates of our economy are wide open to all the products that come from your country, and to your great industrial conglomerates that are so good at exploiting our natural resources. Not like those indigenous U’wa fighting the oil companies, saying that petroleum is the blood of the earth ... Can you believe them? What weird people!

Well, Mr. President, to speak now of more agreeable things, we hope you take with you a pleasant image of our country, above all because the meeting will be in the city of Cartagena, part of Colombia’s historic patrimony. Hopefully, you will always remember the walls of San Felipe Castle, the beautiful beaches that you will surely be able to make out from the Casa de Huéspedes Ilustres (“House for Illustrious Guests”), President Uribe’s residence in Cartegena, where he will have the enviable privilege of having lunch with you. And don’t worry about those potential criminals, those black people that the North American media have been showing these last few days, living among flood water and sewage, hiding from the rain in houses with cardboard walls and tin roofs. They must be reenacting the customs of some savage African tribe. What a horrifying sight!

But you can relax, knowing that all these people live far away, in that unsightly part of Cartagena that you won’t be seeing. And don’t worry, the next time you come to this, YOUR country, the “private justice” vigilante groups which have appeared here and in other cities, made up of the members of elite families who violently “clean” the streets of homeless children and other undesirables, will have been working to improve the image of these zones where, unfortunately, Western civilization has still not arrived.

And neither should you worry about all those vagrants, who will surely be there, all over the city, spewing their insipid slogans, and trying to provoke chaos in the streets. Your peace of mind will be insured by some modest security precautions, especially designed for your protection under the strict orders of President Uribe, consisting of 15,000 men who will guard you from land, sea and air. So those agitators represent no danger to you. In fact, better we let them shout and burn themselves out, demonstrating that there really is democracy here – don’t you agree? In addition to your special security force, we have an efficient team of riot police that know how to make those people really feel the relentless weight of the law coming down on their backs.

We hope you enjoy all this attention you so deserve. In fact, we have cleared one of the streets of Catagena to hold a parade in your honor. It is our simple way of saying thank you.

That’s right, Mr. President. Thank you, thank you so much, for letting us be the third country, after Israel and Egypt, that receives the most military assistance from your government. And you don’t just send guns and ammunition, but also more and more U.S. military personnel, who heroically risk their lives coming to an unknown and dangerous land to exercise their legitimate right to defend private property and the country’s institutions. And we can’t forget your expert advisors and private contractors, who train our soldiers in effective tactics to eliminate the enemy, to mistrust everyone, to see the enemy everywhere. In a country of criminals, even a little child might be a guerrilla.

Thank you for giving us the president of our dreams, made in your image and likeness. He even resembles a successful Wall Street businessman, the good son that makes his father proud and has your unconditional support. Remember that he was the only Latin American president that openly backed the arrival of those valiant U.S. troops in Iraq, that other inhospitable country that was outside of the World Order. So great is the admiration he feels for you that, in tribute to your “Patriot Act,” he designed the “Plan Patriota,” which has increased our military forces to 350,000 men. These soldiers will (possibly, with the indispensable help of the CIA) force all those who for some reason still insist on not joining government programs to “rethink” their stance. These troublemakers should follow the example of all those flawless, morally righteous Colombians who form the government’s nation-wide informant network. Who believe so much in the underprivileged youth of rural areas that they convert them into “peasant soldiers.”

Thanks to your government’s sponsorship of these philanthropic initiatives, Colombian civil society lives in greater peace and harmony as it is converted little by little into a second army, in order to guarantee that good people can live in peace. Every day, our society seems more like yours. In fact, if we follow the great example of your countrymen and reelect President Uribe in the 2006 elections, may someday soon we will become “twin countries.”

Thanks to your government’s sponsorship of these philanthropic initiatives, Colombian civil society lives in greater peace and harmony as it is converted little by little into a second army, in order to guarantee that good people can live in peace. Every day, our society seems more like yours. In fact, if we follow the great example of your countrymen and reelect President Uribe in the 2006 elections, may someday soon we will become “twin countries.”

Thank you for supporting and promoting negotiations between the government and the paramilitaries. The time had come to give a political deal to those anonymous heroes, who have done nothing for years but defend their estates, their farms, and their wealth (obtained so honorably through the emerald trade in the 1970s and the drug trade in later years) from the guerrillas. How is it possible that the European Union, the International Criminal Court, and countless human rights organizations put those honest “paras” on the same level as international terrorists? Because of a few supposed little mistakes, such as killing entire towns with chainsaws and machetes, or slaughtering and eating indigenous people (don’t the paras have a right to feed themselves?) – the product of the psychological pressure that they must experience from spending so much time in the jungle chasing communists? At least President Uribe and yourself have been like a guiding light for these poor martyrs to our country.

Thank you for encouraging multinational companies like Coca-Cola, Texaco and Nestle to set up shop in our country. They have invested here and allied themselves with our business associations, creating a fair distribution of wealth: the biggest share for them, a good-sized chunk for the associations of respectable elites.The few leftovers go tp labor, that is, for the wage-earners, who, instead of forming unions, should be thankful to have work and an opportunity to support our nation’s progress.

If the people from that last group don’t like the paramilitaries, if they feel pride in their work, the companies terrorize them, drive them from their land, and maybe apply some minor physical punishment, which the human rights organizations exaggerate and label as torture. And if lighter measures don’t work, sometimes harsher ones must be used. So, perhaps it’s better that no one mention the more than 184 trade unionists killed in Colombia in 2002 alone. Those people would have just challenged private property and tried to get out of working more than eight hours per day for next to nothing. That is, not given their labor away, which is what any good, self-respecting Colombian should do. Don’t they understand that, to borrow from Karl Marx, work (for the U.S.) is what gives a man (from Latin America) his dignity?

Thank you for the millions of dollars that your government gives to ours to finance that “daughter” of the war on terrorism – the war on drugs. Thank you for sending us those experts from DynCorp to eliminate coca plants with that magic chemical substance called glyphosate, and to promote alternative development programs. But of course, it is impossible to please the peasant-farmers and the environmentalists. According to them, glyphosate kills the fish in the rivers, causes illness in entire communities, and even affects those same alternative development crops. Don’t these people have a Christian conscience? Can’t they sacrifice themselves for the good of others, for those American youth totally caught up in drugs because the money that should go to prevention programs up there is spent on fumigations down here? Besides, if the farmers get sick, all the better. That way, we free ourselves from those coca-producers and kill two birds with one stone. They don’t understand anything anyway. Underdevelopment… you understand, Mr. President.

Thank you for bringing your young professionals and white-collar workers here to take charge of directing our companies. It really is something we appreciate enormously. Especially when one can see Colombian professionals, with years of experience, who have the fortune to get a visa after years of waiting, carving out promising futures in your country… washing dishes, sweeping floors, cleaning houses, watching your homes while you sleep. That is a real professional exchange.

Because of all this and more, Mr. President, our country is entirely at your disposal. All Colombians are working for you twenty-four hours a day – the businessmen, the workers, the housewives, the journalists, the MTV-watching youth, bankers, the common people who have entrusted their savings to the banks, and the parents going into debt with those banks to be able to buy their kids the latest Hot Wheels set this Christmas (another magnificent example of the cultural influence your country has exerted over ours). You will always find in us the potential consumers you need to maintain the harmony of YOUR supply chain. We feel so proud to be part of it…

Well, to conclude, all that remains for us to do is to thank you, Mr. President, you and the political-economic-idealogical-industrial system you lead, for giving us the privilege of being second-class citizens, given the risk that a terrorist hides in each of our hearts.

Thank you for making us believe that we have a choice…

for deciding our own fate for us…

for showing us how relentless the wrath of God can be…

Thank you…

From this, YOUR colony, I sign off…

Resentfully,

Laura Del Castillo Matamoros
Bogotá, Colombia

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