<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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Marines Ordered into Colombia

February 2003 is Target Date


By Peter Gorman
Special to the Narco News Bulletin

October 25, 2002

IQUITOS, PERÚ—Two battalions of US Marine Jungle Expeditionary Forces have recently received deployment orders for insertion into Colombia this coming February, 2003.

According to reliable sources, the battalions, which with support will total roughly 1,100 men, will rotate in and out of southern Colombia, with orders to eliminate all high officers of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), scattering those who escape to the remote corners of the Amazon. The FARC hierarchy has been the subject of intensive US intelligence scrutiny for several years. The offensive will mean that the US is fighting wars on three fronts simultaneously: Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia.

While this reporter did not see a battle plan, according to our sources the offensive will be led by the Colombian military, which will push the FARC south toward the waiting Marines. A similar but much smaller operation involving former US-SEALS was called off at the last minute two years ago. The Bush Administration is supposedly prepared to take the heat for as many innocent Indigenous peoples and Colombian campesinos — a number that could reach the thousands — as might be killed in the offensive.

The presence of US troops in battle in Colombia will be in direct contravention of the Congressional parameters of both Clinton’s Plan Colombia and Bush’s expanded Andean Initiative. But with the propaganda that has been churned out in the US media during the past year regarding terrorism—including Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers’ claim that the FARC were training with Al Qaida (a statement he has recently and quietly rescinded) (see Narco News, September 10, 2002, “Beers ‘Corrects’ Falsehood Under Oath in DynCorp Case”)—the administration feels the American public’s outrage will be controllable.

The plan was sealed at a late September lunch between Colombia’s new right wing US puppet president Alvaro Uribe and Bush in Washington. The orders for the insertion were cut shortly afterwards.

The luncheon took place at the tail end of a UNITAS exercise between US Marine Expeditionary Forces and the Peruvian military, during which, for the first time ever, 600 Marines aboard the USS Portland, made their way up the international waters of the Amazon river to Peruvian territory on the Nanay river just outside of Iquitos.

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo denied that the US presence indicated any future involvement of US troops on Peruvian soil, or the presence of a US base in Peru—which is not permissible under Peruvian law unless specifically authorized by the Peruvian Congress. But insiders saw the arrival of the USS Portland as a message to both the FARC and Peru. To the FARC the message was that the US can show up any time and cut off their southern river escape routes to Brazil, Peru and Ecuador in the face of a Colombian military offensive push to the south. To the Peruvians, and to Toledo personally, the arrival of the Portland with 600 Marine jungle troops was a reminder that he had crossed the line when he abruptly cancelled a joint Peruvian-US military training exercise called New Horizons in April, after a year of planning and less than a month before it was set to begin.

Planning for the Portland’s arrival on the Nanay river as part of the UNITAS exercise began at almost the same time Toledo cancelled the New Horizons program.

The US troops will probably operate out of both the US base at Manta on the coast of Ecuador as well as at a base built deep in the Peruvian jungle near the Putumayo river—Peru’s border with Colombia—in 1998-1999. That secret base was intended for joint use by both Peru and the US in the event of a Colombian military offensive that would push the FARC south to the Putumayo, but on its completion, then-president Alberto Fujimori ordered the US to leave it. That slap in the face of the US by the US-bought-and-paid-for Fujimori led directly to the coup arranged by the US which forced him into exile.

According to our sources, the administration will try to keep the presence of the Marines in Colombia secret for as long as possible, claiming casualties to be the result of training exercises or legal assistance to the Colombian military. But in the event that the American public discovers that we are actively engaging in an offensive war, the administration is said to be prepared to deal with that as it comes.

Bush has allegedly become a zealot in his drive to eliminate terrorism worldwide, and sees the FARC in that light. Reliable sources say that to ensure that the rest of the US sees them similarly, US government operatives at work in Colombia have been responsible for many of the bombings that have been laid at the feet of the FARC in recent months.

It is the hope of this reporter that the release of this information stops the operation before it begins and American men and women are put in a position where they will not only shed the blood of the peoples of Colombia, but will likely see their own shed as well.

No zealotry, no quest for Colombia’s oil riches, no Andean trade pact or any other excuse can justify our deepening involvement in the Colombian war.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America