Media silent on Colombian atrocities

February 27, 2010

Apparently, the corporate media doesn't consider this to be newsworthy: the confession to a Colombian prosecutor of 30,000 murders by paramilitaries linked to the regime of President Alvaro Uribe.

As of February 25, Associated Press, Reuters and their contracted media outlets remain silent on the news.

If it had taken place in Somalia, China, Syria, North Korea, Iran or any other country Washington sees as its enemy, we would be seeing it on a CNN special report, backed up on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.

The last prominent NYT article on Colombian paramilitary death squads, in January 2007, provided Uribe with cover, stating: "Senior members of Mr. Uribe's government and Mr. Uribe himself have said that anyone shown to have had illegal ties to the paramilitaries, which terrorised Colombian cities and the countryside in the nation's internal war, which has gone on for decades, and made fortunes in cocaine trafficking, should be prosecuted in courts of law…

"Many Colombians credit Mr. Uribe for declining levels of murders and kidnappings and robust economic growth."

Only Russia's Pravda reported, on February 19, that Colombian paramilitaries have admitted to more than 30,000 murders over the last 20 years. It is important to look at the reasons for the silence of the corporate media on matters that threaten the Uribe regime.

Death squad ties

First, it is not surprising to read of the enormity of Colombian paramilitaries' crimes against humanity considering that the Uribe, himself was a close personal friend of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and once worked for the Medellin Cartel when he was governor of Medellin.

A November 2007 Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) report implicated Uribe in acts of murder by right-wing paramilitaries over the years, along with members of his administration.

Uribe is also linked to the murders of trade unionists in Colombia. Some 72 union leaders were killed in 2007 alone and 2300 since 1991.

Uribe's regime is Washington's closest ally in Latin America, fully cooperating with the US military Southern Command. He has also provided cover for the US "war on drugs" that has sucked US$5 billion from US taxpayers, some of which has been has been diverted to Colombian paramilitaries, a February 3 article said.

His government has also leased seven Colombian military bases to the US on the border with Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, is a thorn in the side of Washington.

Uribe's dark affiliations are only mentioned in the corporate media as passing references that provide him with cover, as in the NYT article cited above.

It is also interesting that it is the right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) that is responsible for 30,000 murders in Colombia, and not the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But it is FARC that is usually reputed by the Western media to be the "terrorists" of Colombia.

The US corporate media frequently describes the FARC as a "terrorist organisation, funded by illegal drugs". The reason is obvious: it is the FARC that has been battling against Colombia's corrupt and violent government.

Slandering Chavez

After repeatedly identifying the FARC as terrorists, the media then attempts to link Venezuela's government to the FARC. They ramped up this false link when Chavez brokered the release of FARC-held prisoners in late 2007.

After Chavez successfully gained the first release of the FARC prisoners ever in January 2008, he called on Latin American governments to stop branding Colombian guerillas as terrorists: "I am asking the governments to take the FARC-EP and ELN [National Liberation Army] off their lists of global terrorist groups."

Labelling political enemies as terrorists is a favorite tactic to justify illegal attacks on them — as Colombia did when it launched a cross-border missile attack against a FARC camp in Ecuador in March 2008, killing more than 20 people.

Washington's hackneyed, worn out tactic to declare the FARC as a terrorist organisation and then linking Chavez to it (despite no credible evidence to prove the allegation) seems to have lost traction over the last year.

But it will come as no surprise when the US resorts to these accusations again in the future.

Latest reports indicate that the right-wing Colombian paramilitaries currently being prosecuted for their crimes are being replaced by new death squads. These are continuing to assassinate anti-Uribe dissidents.

If we want to know the truth about what is happening in Colombia, we won't find it in those media outlets on-board with the Washington consensus for Venezuela and the rest of Latin America.

[Reprinted from]

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