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Plan Colombia - Genocide and Destabilizing South America

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« on: July 21, 2011, 12:58:58 pm »

Original thread: http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=29727.0


Plan Colombia: The Real Destabilizing Force in South America
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3231
March 4th 2008, by Carlos Martinez - Global Exchange Venezuela Program

In surveying US press coverage of the recent tensions between Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela one might come to the conclusion that Colombia has become the victim of the wrath of its' evil next door neighbor, Hugo Chavez. Once again, the media spin machine has been turned against Venezuela, bypassing a contextual analysis of the situation for a simplistic story line. With headlines such as, "Chavez Picks a New Fight" (Business Week March 4, 2008) the story perpetuates the US government's claims that Venezuela is a destabilizing force in the region while ignoring the alarming actions perpetrated by the Colombian government.

While Chavez has certainly made it easy for international attention to be focused on his actions, the lack of coverage on the response of other South American presidents is disconcerting. The most egregious example of this blind spot is with Ecuador itself, the country whose territory was trespassed in Colombia's attacks. The protests raised by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa have been sorely under reported in comparison to Chavez's response, potentially leaving one with the impression that Ecuador does not consider Colombia's actions to be of major concern.

Nor is it being acknowledged that this is not the first time Ecuador has suffered the negative consequences of Colombia's war on "narco-terrorism" as articulated through Plan Colombia. For years the northern region of Ecuador has been subject to tremendous contamination of legal crops, animals, and whole communities as a result of aerial herbicide spraying of coca crops in Colombia.

A statement published by White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe maintains that Venezuela is simply over reacting to a legitimate operation. "This is an odd reaction by Venezuela to Colombia's efforts against the FARC, a terrorist organization that continues to hold Colombians, Americans and others hostage."

A quick review of responses from other countries would in fact show that the US government's assessment is deeply flawed and out of step with international opinion. President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, proclaimed, "A situation of this nature undoubtedly warrants an explanation from Colombia to the people of Ecuador, the President of Ecuador and the rest of the region". The governments of Paraguay, Peru, and Argentina have all released similar statements of disapproval with Colombia's actions.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed despair at the killing of his government's primary contact in negotiating the release of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who also holds French nationality. Referring to the killing of FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes, he asserted, "It is bad news that the man we were talking to, with whom we had contacts, has been killed."

While some press in the United States question whether Chavez is using this situation as an opportunity to distract Venezuelans from their social problems, this excessive focus on him is in fact distracting people in the US from having a much needed dialogue on their own governments' role in fomenting this so-called "Andean Crisis". As a result, the tough realities and repercussions from the US government's support for a military solution in Colombia are being overlooked.

Emboldened and armed with the multibillion dollar support of Plan Colombia, the Uribe government has decided to violate international law rather than attempting mediated discussions with the FARC. This is simply the latest controversy to discredit Colombia, already renowned for having the greatest number of human rights violations and politically motivated murders per year in the Western Hemisphere.

This is an important time to consider the consequences of the United States' blanket support for the Colombian government's militarism and the destabilizing effect this is clearly creating, not simply to talk about Chavez.
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 12:59:58 pm »

Colombia’s President Uribe Goes Dangerously Ballistic
http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/6560/1/321/
By Council On Hemispheric Affairs

On Saturday, the Colombian air force attacked a FARC camp site in Ecuador, a mile from the Colombian border resulting in the death of Raul Reyes (Luis Edgar Devia Silva), the second in command of the FARC, and seventeen other members of his unit. Both Ecuador and Venezuela reacted with outrage, with Ecuador immediately recalling its ambassador (Venezuela previously had done so) and ordering their troops to their respective borders with Colombia in response to the air strike and subsequent incursion by Colombian helicopters ordered by President Alvaro Uribe into Ecuador.

What is particularly worrisome about this entire scenario is the strong possibility of U.S. involvement in the incident and what role, if any, Southcom had in planning, supplying and carrying out the operation. There are good grounds to speculate that the entire game plan seems to have been carried out at too sophisticated a level by a Colombian military which normally is dismissed as incompetent, corrupt, drug sodden and ill-deposed to risk dangers.

While there is no evidence to buttress such surmises, the U.S. role could have involved the supply of intelligence based on satellites and heat sensors, a supply of smart bombs and the seconding of some of the scores of U.S. trainers in the country to cooperate in carrying out the initiative. In addition, there could have been possible authorization of the use of Black Hawk helicopters provided under the auspices of Plan Colombia, the multi billion dollar U.S. military aid program which transformed Colombia into being the third largest recipient of such U.S. assistance in the world.
Caracas and Quito have called the attack “cowardly and cold” and have argued that Ecuadorian air and ground space were clearly violated and there was no justification for such foreign military action on Ecuadorian soil. Chávez also said that if such an attack had been duplicated on Venezuelan soil, Caracas would consider declaring war on Colombia.

Ecuador has withdrawn its ambassador to Colombia, expelled the Colombian ambassador in Quito, while Venezuela has ordered 10 battalions to the border for possible military action.

There is no question that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has dangerously escalated the tension now mounting in the northern arc of South America. Uribe’s decision to take such violent action just at the time that the tempo of FARC’s release of some of the estimated 750 hostages it was holding was being stepped up, has to be seen as a very strange development when one considers that the Colombian President had previously sacked Chávez last November for his successful record in arranging the release of several hostages thus, there may be other matters on Uribe’s agenda rather than just hostage release. Uribe is also risking the $6 billion a year in bilateral trade between Venezuela and Colombia and he may be hoping that Chávez’s decision to send 10 battalions of troops to the Colombia-Venezuela border may be put to good use in convincing Congressional Democrats to give up their opposition to approving the bilateral free trade agreement that the Bush administration has signed with Bogota, due to Colombia’s stalwart fight against “terrorism.” The Democrats now oppose such passage because the Colombian security forces have a repellant reputation for gunning down the country’s labor leaders.

The question is how prudent was Uribe’s dangerously precipitous action. Without question, Colombia’s Darth Vader has ordered operations before that have violated the territorial boundaries of his neighbors, such as using Colombian intelligence forces to collaborate with Venezuelan mercenaries to penetrate that country’s territory to abduct the FARC`s Rodrigo Granda, who later was released after France’s Nicolas Sarkozy persuaded Uribe to let him go after Colombia’s tensions with Caracas continued to escalate.
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 01:00:39 pm »

BUSH RENAMES, EXPANDS PLAN COLOMBIA -
ADDS $550 MILLION IN PREP FOR WAR

EQUADOR MOVES 10,000 TROOPS TO COLOMBIAN BORDER

LINKAGE BETWEEN DRUG WAR AND WALL STREET HEALTH BECOMING TRANSPARENT

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/regional/plan_columbia_2.html

FTW, March 15, 2001 - Less than a week after diplomats from 25 Latin American and European countries, as well as Japan, defied US interests by meeting jointly with representatives of rebel groups at the invitation of the Colombian government, and just days after two sharp losses caused the Dow to plunge more than 700 points, President Bush added $550 million to Plan Colombia and acknowledged its regional dimensions by re-christening it "The Andean Initiative." Signaling the opening moves in a regional war, Equador has simultaneously moved 10,000 troops to the Colombian border in anticipation of increased hostilities as US military personnel increase air operations from the US base in the coastal city of Manta. All of these events, occurring in close proximity, add further credibility to FTW's long held position that a Vietnam-style conflict in Colombia was essential to prevent the total collapse of the American stock market.

FTW has previously documented how an estimated $250 billion in illegal drug money is laundered through the US economy annually and how a 1999 "solicitation" by NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso for the FARC guerillas to invest their drug profits in Wall Street was summarily rejected. The leftist rebels chose instead to keep their money in Colombia. Also irritating for the American economy and markets is the fact that Colombian rebels, who now control the southern third of Colombia, occupy lands estimated to hold billions of barrels of high grade crude oil sought after by, among others, Occidental Petroleum.

A total US market collapse, if unchecked, would also threaten to destabilize the US dollar which is the dominant reserve currency around the world. That could have the effect of setting off a worldwide depression similar to that of 1929-38. As a rapidly coalescing European Union attempts to find economic strength by distancing itself from US influence (and instability) the US has countered with increasing disregard for near unanimous global opposition to its plans for war. That war will inevitably involve US military personnel in combat operations.

The strongest confirmation that we have seen of the inevitability of war is a report today on www.narconews.com citing Village Voice media critic Cynthia Cotts who noted on March 2 that "The New York Times plans to move its Buenos Aires bureau to Bogota or Caracas sometime soon. Other papers are following suit. The Los Angeles Times plans to open a Bogota Bureau next week and the Washington Post is moving its Caracas bureau chief there as well... Even the Wall Street Journal recently established an Andean Bureau in Caracas [Venezuela]."

The timeline of recent events tells the story better than any long narrative. There can be no doubt that major American media, which also trade their stocks on Wall Street and has suffered serious losses, was aware of these developments and has deliberately hidden them from the American people.

----------

March 7 - While participating in an International Financial Congress in Moscow focusing on the US economic crisis, FTW Editor Mike Ruppert offered his opinion that the US markets would crash, especially if the EU and the world community found the common voice to oppose American plans for war in Colombia. Referring to a unanimous (with one abstention) vote by the EU in February to oppose the $1.3 billion military aid package, Ruppert suggested that the way to promote the Euro dollar and insulate fragile economies like those in Russia and Eastern Europe was to provide Colombia and South America with the support necessary to oppose US war plans.

March 8 - As reported by Reuters on March 9, diplomats from 25 countries from Europe and South America, as well as Japan traveled to rebel held territory in Colombia at the request of the Colombian government to engage in dialogue supporting an end to hostilities. Such a peace initiative, jointly sponsored by Colombian President Andres Pastrana and the leftist rebels, indicated a split with US backed moves to train and deploy Colombian combat troops for an all out offensive against rebel positions. This followed months of increasing hostilities, aerial spraying of herbicides on civilian food crops and firefights that have seen US civilian contractors engaged in combat with rebel troops.

Plans for the meeting were unknown to FTW while in Moscow but they confirmed that European and Asian intelligence services and foreign ministries were equally aware of economic vulnerability in the US and opportunities for European growth and stability if war was successfully avoided.

March 12 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 436 points, the fifth largest one day drop in history.

March 14 - As reported by Agence France Press (AFP), Equador announces that it has moved 10,000 combat troops to the Colombian border.

March 14 - The Dow drops another 317 points.

March 14 - The AP reports on expanding US military operations at the air base at Manta, Equador where American airmen "armed with M-16 assault rifles" guard US Navy spy planes as dozens of new bars, motels and restaurants open up around the $62 million expansion of runway and maintenance facilities at the base. This in anticipation of the arrival of many more American servicemen.

March 15 - Veteran journalist Al Giordano at www.narconews.com catches a story, again by AFP, that has gone completely unreported by the major US media in spite of being front page news all over Latin America. The State Department on March 12 held a briefing and issued a statement from Secretary of State Colin Powell indicating that the Bush Administration was adding $550 million to the Colombian military aid package, renamed as The Andean Initiative, and intentionally widening the effort which he now officially acknowledged as being a "conflict." AFP quoted Powell as saying, "The new administration will try to regionalize the Colombian conflict, so that the countries in the area recognize that this is their problem as much as it is Colombia's."

This announcement, kept a secret from the American people by our own press, brings the nations of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Panama deliberately - and as we have been consistently predicting - directly into the military operations zone.

We have been here before.

It was called Vietnam.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 01:01:32 pm »

Colombia's other war
http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/chemical_war_3020.jsp
The United States-led campaign to destroy Colombia's coca economy includes chemical warfare against areas dominated by leftwing rebels. Sue Branford reports on the real face of "Plan Colombia".
14 - 11 - 2005

    “We were sitting chatting outside our home, when two small planes flew over very low. We went down to our fields to see what was happening. My husband said: ‘Look, they’re dropping poison on our land’. It went all over the food crops – the cassava, banana, beans, rice – and the pasture. We lost everything. And the poison went on us too. I had no coat on, so it went all over my arms. It was sticky, just like cooking oil. I washed it off as soon as I could but even so it made my skin itch. For several days we all felt ill. We had fevers and eye infections. My youngest child hasn’t been well since.

The speaker is Graciela, a 36-year-old peasant woman living in the province of Putumayo in the south of Colombia. For five years, United States aeroplanes have been spraying a powerful chemical defoliant on peasant holdings as part of Plan Colombia, the US-inspired and funded plan to eradicate coca, the raw material from which **** is extracted – which, since its implementation in 1999, has cost $1.7 billion and turned Colombia into the third largest recipient of US aid after Israel and Egypt.

The result of the spraying is that thousands of Colombian peasant families have been going to local hospitals to complain of eye infections, diarrhoea, vomiting and other illnesses. It is tragically reminiscent of the Vietnam war, when US pilots doused land controlled by the Vietcong with a powerful defoliant, known as Agent Orange, to destroy “cover for enemy forces”.

The immediate impact of the fumigación (fumigation) as it is known in Colombia, is evident to everyone in the region. But several non-governmental organisations are worried that, just as in the case of Vietnam, the peasant families may also be suffering less visible but even more serious long-term damage to their genetic make-up. After denying for decades that Agent Orange caused lasting damage to the health of Vietnamese families, the US authorities have been forced to admit that the dioxin in the herbicide is “likely to present a cancer hazard to humans”. Vietnamese citizens are attempting to sue the US chemical companies that produced Agent Orange (including Monsanto, the bio-tech company that also manufactures the Roundup herbicide applied in Colombia) for compensation that could run into billions of dollars.

A toxic spray

So far, the Colombian authorities have refused to carry out a thorough, on-the-ground investigation into the impact of the spraying, saying that the violent conflict between Colombia’s armed forces and the left-wing guerrillas, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia / Farc), means that they could not guarantee the safety of the researchers. They refer critics to a recent study carried out by a team of international scientists under the auspices of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (Cicad), an agency of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which concluded that the risk to human health from the use of Roundup was “minimal”. But Colombian campaigners have been quick to point out that the study was based on secondary sources, that half of the data came from Monsanto, and that no effort was made to look at the particular way the herbicide was being applied in Colombia.

Two independent researchers have been able to investigate the issue in very difficult conditions, each arriving at highly disturbing conclusions. Adolfo Maldonado, a Spanish doctor working in neighbouring Ecuador, has examined women from Colombia and Ecuador (where families living near the frontier have been affected by herbicide blown over by the wind). Comparing them with a control group of women living outside the affected area, he has found that they have cells with, on average, five times more genetic damage. This, he says, would make them far more likely to develop cancer and other illnesses.

Elsa Nivia, the director of the Colombian branch of the Pesticide Action Network also examines the herbicide from her laboratory in Cali. Her tireless work has faced the difficulty that the authorities will not divulge the exact chemical formula of the mixture, only confirming that it contains glyphosate (which is known to be the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup). She believes that, along with an additive called Cosmo-Flux 411F, a surfactant called polyoxyethyleneamine (POEA) is added to spread the glyphosate more evenly on the plant. All these extra ingredients, she says, greatly increase the herbicide’s toxicity.

Nivia takes into consideration other factors, such as the failure of the authorities to respect most of the procedures recommended for the application of herbicides, to conclude that the chemical mix applied in Colombia may be 104 times more toxic than the Roundup used in normal agricultural practice. Both Adolfo Maldonado and Elsa Nivia have long been calling on the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation.

The Plan Colombia factor

Colombia, the only country to manufacture all three plant-based narcotics (****, heroin and marijuana), is the world’s leading producer of coca. Plan Colombia was designed to have a dual benefit for the United States: to disrupt the supply of coca to the traffickers and thus deliver a knockout blow to the illegal **** trade, and to do so without committing large numbers of US troops to Colombia, for the spraying would be carried out by private US contractors headed by DynCorp.

In the early years, the fumigation appeared to be having some success from an anti-narcotics viewpoint. CIA figures suggest that the area under coca cultivation in Colombia fell by roughly a third: from 169,800 hectares in 2001 to 113,850 hectares in 2003. But since then the strategy has floundered; although a larger area than ever before (136,555 hectares) was sprayed in 2004, the CIA estimate is that the area under coca cultivation marginally increased to 114,000 hectares.

When you visit coca-growing areas, it is not hard to find out why. Some peasant farmers tell you they are planting more coca than they normally do because they know the spraying will kill some of their crop; others say that neighbours have migrated deeper into the Amazon forest to avoid detection. Moreover, in a demonstration of the well-known “balloon effect” (by which suppressing cultivation in one area leads to an increase in cultivation in another), peasant farmers in areas not targeted by the spray planes have planted more coca.

The real US agenda

Many Colombia-watchers were from the beginning highly sceptical of the US government’s strategy and widely predicted these outcomes. They also called attention to other shortfalls in the plan, including its failure to rigorously target the drug-traffickers and the firms importing chemicals required for the processing of coca into ****.

Indeed, it is difficult today to escape the conclusion that all along the United States authorities really had another agenda in mind for Colombia. When Colombia’s then president Andrés Pastrana – since October 2005 the country’s ambassador to the United States – arrived in Washington in October 1998 clutching his draft Plan Colombia – a Plan for Peace, Prosperity and the Strengthening of the State, hardliners in the Pentagon were expressing alarm at the continuing military successes being notched up by the Farc guerrillas. They feared that, unless the US found ways to assist the Colombian armed forces, the Farc could even seize power.

Pastrana’s plan offered them an extraordinary opportunity to boost their military assistance to Colombia while pretending to fight drugs. It is easy today to forget just how difficult it was for the Pentagon in the pre-9/11 era to convince the US Congress to fund foreign counter-insurgency operations. The “war on drugs” was much less controversial and far easier to get funded.

The Pentagon hawks thus seized on and rewrote Pastrana’s original plan. The new English-language version had a strong counter-insurgency focus. Its new budget – completely against the spirit of the original project – assigned 80% of funding to the military, leaving tiny budgets for social development, alternative crops and the combating of the rightwing paramilitaries which dominated drug-trafficking. The biggest outlay was on the formation of three elite, highly mobile battalions within the Colombian army. Their first target was to be the southwest region of Putumayo, the Farc’s stronghold.

There is no doubt that the Pentagon also hoped to reduce coca cultivation, for at that time Putumayo was the country’s main coca-producing province. But there seems little doubt that the main target was the Farc. The US authorities have been much clearer on this point since 9/11; only a few days after the attacks, the US state department’s top counter-terrorism official Francis X Taylor declared the Farc to be “the most dangerous international terrorist group based in this hemisphere”.

This was the start of a conflation that would become familiar, between the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror”. General James Hill of US Southern Command said in 2003 that drugs were a “weapon of mass destruction”. This confused analysis involves a double misunderstanding: it ignores the origins of the internal conflict in Colombia’s profound social inequalities and it implies that the Farc would be defeated if drug-trafficking could be eradicated from Colombia.

Yet even when the mask is lifted and Plan Colombia is analysed as the counter-insurgency programme that it really is, its success has been limited. In 2002-03 the Farc were driven back into the forest under pressure from a strong military offensive. Some US and Colombian officials predicted triumphantly that they were on the verge of imposing an outright military defeat on the group. Once again, wiser analysts advised caution. “The Farc have survived for more than forty years”, said Alfredo Rangel, a leading Colombian security analyst with the Bogota think-tank Fundacion Seguridad y Democracia. “Farc is not seeking to confront the armed forces but to exhaust them. The group is biding its time until the military offensive loses steam.” In February 2005, the Farc launched a series of devastating attacks on military posts, proving yet again that reports of their death had been premature.

A war without end

Yet the Colombian and United States authorities, far from rethinking their strategy, seem to believe their own propaganda that they can defeat the guerrillas by eradicating coca. Indeed they have extended fumigation to many other provinces, and one possible new development in particular is causing alarm.

Some reports – not yet reliably confirmed – indicate that new strains of coca are developing that are resistant to glyphosate. While journalists hinted that a Monsanto employee might secretly have introduced a new gene into coca to make it resistant to Roundup (just as the company introduced a gene into soya to make it resistant) the truth may be more prosaic. It is more likely that coca farmers have stumbled across mutant coca plants that have a natural resistance to glyphosate and are now propagating these. A similar process has happened in Argentina where so-called “super-weeds” have developed a natural resistance to glyphosate and are now proliferating in the soya fields.

This scenario opens the way for an even more alarming development. In the late 1990s the United States army experimented in Peru with a species of fusarium oxysporum, a pathogen that causes withering, rot and death to plants. As the active ingredient is a fungus, the pathogen is technically known as a mycoherbicide (from myco, Greek for mushroom). The fusarium reportedly killed the roots of the coca.

After vehement protests from the other Amazon nations, particularly Brazil, which feared that the fungus might spread uncontrollably across the Amazon forest, President Clinton stopped the experiments. But Republican senators reopened the debate in 2005, calling on the government to make further funding for Colombia conditional on new experiments with mycoherbicides. Although the first phase of Plan Colombia is due to end in 2006, the chemical war in Colombia may just be beginning.
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 01:02:33 pm »

From the Folks Who Brought You Plan Colombia
The Annexation of Mexico

http://www.counterpunch.org/ross06182007.html
By JOHN ROSS, June 18, 2007
Mexico City.

Plan Colombia, the $5,000,000,000 drug war boondoggle cooked up in 1999 by Bill Clinton and then-Colombian president Andres Pastrana and subsequently transmographied into a War on Terror adjunct by George Bush and Alvaro Uribe brought U.S. troops, fleets of helicopter gun ships, spray planes spewing poisons, and a vast array of human rights abuses to that troubled Latin American country. It also made Colombia the third largest recipient of Washington's foreign aid and the number one repository of U.S. military aid in the western hemisphere.

But Plan Colombia failed to stem the flood of **** pouring across U.S. borders nor has it even eradicated much Colombian coca acreage - 144,000 hectares continue to thrive under coca cultivation in Colombia concedes the U.S. State Department's Office of International Narcotics Enforcement in its 2006 annual report, and while spraying massive doses of glysophate did force some farmers out of business, production simply moved south, spreading throughout the Andean region.

Indeed, the price of **** on U.S. streets dipped slightly last year and supply and quality remained constant, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. For the first time in five years, the DEA registered an increase in first time users. 90% of the **** confiscated in the U.S. last year continues to be Colombian-based.

Despite the abysmal results, the U.S. Congress has again budgeted $367,000,000 for Plan Colombia in 2008 although some congressional reps appear to be tiring of fighting this losing war and are beginning to call for an exit strategy. With the Democrats in titular control of both houses, doubts about Plan Colombia forced consideration of a bi-lateral free trade agreement to be shelved this spring. President Uribe, in Washington to lobby for the pact, complained to the press that he was being treated as "a pariah."

Despite Plan Colombia's fading allure, the Bush administration is about to debut a sequel: Plan Mexico, an interdiction strategy to confront the increasing "Colombian-ization" of Mexico by bi-national (Colombian and Mexican) drug cartels who have managed to spread their brand of mayhem into every nook and cranny of this distant neighbor nation.

The finishing touches for a Plan Colombia-like joint venture were worked out at the early June G-8 summit in Germany during a meeting between Bush and Mexico's freshman president Felipe Calderon, a special guest at the conclave. According to insiders in both camps as reported in the U.S. and Mexican media, Calderon will make a formal application for increased anti-drug assistance from Washington come August. Mexico currently receives $40,000,000 in drug moneys from the White House.

If you liked Plan Colombia, you are going to love Plan Mexico.

Like Plan Colombia, Mexico will be gifted with tons of military equipment, whiz-bang technology, and billion buck grants to battle the cartels, although U.S. troops will be held out of the package (for now) because of Mexico's long-standing resistance to such deployment. The U.S. military has invaded Mexico eight times since both countries won their independence from Europe 200 years ago.

Fumigation of Mexican drug crops will also meet with hard-core resistance on this side of the border. Whereas U.S. spray crews have been dousing southern Colombia for seven years with the virulent defoliant glysophate, poisoning food crops, streams, farm animals, and farming populations, Mexico was painted with Paraquat in 1969 when Richard Nixon launched his bonehead "Operation Intercept" to destroy Mexican marijuana plantations without first asking the Mexican government's permission. One dazzling result of Operation Intercept was to incite domestic marijuana cultivation in the U.S. - the U.S. now produces more marijuana than Mexico.

Mexico halted its U.S.-financed spray program several years ago when it could no longer obtain replacement parts for the planes, with no noticeable increase in drug cropping. Mexico is not suited to coca cultivation and is used by the cartels principally as a "trampoline" to move Colombian **** across the U.S. border. Opium poppy cropping, as in Colombia, accounts for single digit percentages of U.S. heroin imports, 90% of which have their origin in Washington's War on Terror partner Afghanistan.

Plans for Plan Mexico were inadvertently leaked at a June 8th - 9th bi-lateral meeting of Mexican and U.S. lawmakers in Austin Texas by Democratic congressperson Silvestre Reyes, now chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee and a former U.S. Border Patrol honcho who pioneered construction of the first wall between Mexico and the United States back in the mid-90s. As top dog on the House Intelligence committee, Reyes is a heavy hitter in the Bush terror war and Plan Mexico is seen as much of a War on Terror tool as it is a drug interdiction strategy.

Officials in both Washington and Mexico City have remained tightlipped about the joint endeavor, implying that Reyes' revelations may have tipped off the cartels.

Since taking office December 1st, Calderon, whose election was as shady as George Bush's Florida 2000 sham victory, has been prepping Mexico for the nation's new enhanced role in Washington's War on Terror. Within the first week of his chaotic swearing-in, Calderon sent 30,000 Mexican troops into nine drug-saturated states in a virtual declaration of martial law to combat the five Mexican-Colombian cartels that dominate the drug trade here. Civil rights were suspended and abuses abounded but precious little **** was confiscated.

The new president followed up the military offensive by moving a draconian anti- terrorism measure in the Mexican congress. The so-called "International Terrorism Law" which actually criminalizes domestic dissent, passed both houses with only token opposition from the left-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and mandates 40 year prison sentences for "terrorist" activities defined as "the use of violence against persons, things, or public services that spread alarm or fear in the population or any part thereof in order to threaten national security or pressure authorities to take certain determinations."

This Mexican "U.S. Patriot Act" in effect transforms social change movements as diverse as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Greenpeace, and Oaxaca's Popular Peoples' Assembly (APPO) into terrorist organizations. The first application of the new law against Ignacio Del Valle, a leader of the machete-wielding farmers of San Salvador Atenco, resulted in a 67-year prison sentence. Del Valle's "terrorist" crime? Locking the door during a meeting of Mexico state school officials and local farmers so the officials could not abandon the room.

But Calderon was not done yet with converting his regime into a doppelganger of the Bush administration's perversion of justice. This April, the President, who, much like George Bush, is considered a usurper by over 50% of the Mexican electorate, foisted a constitutional amendment on his congress that would grant him carte blanche powers to tap phones and break into private homes without first obtaining a search warrant from a court. The amendment, which has not yet passed the legislature, bears a startling resemblance to George Bush's unconstitutional eavesdropping and surveillance of millions of U.S. citizens but with one notable caveat - Calderon, at least, went to his congress to modify the Constitution to allow such intrusions. Bush simply imposed his illegal operation in violation of his country's Magna Carta.

One purported benefit of Plan Mexico will be technology transfer, affirm boosters like Mexican attorney general Eduardo Medina Mora. Bankrolled by a $3,000,000 U.S. State Department grant, Mexico is upgrading its eavesdropping capabilities even without congressional approval of the constitutional amendment. The installation of a super-duper "communication interruption" system will allow the government to tap into landline telephones, cell phone traffic, and electronic mail. The new system is designed by Verint Technologies ("actionable intelligence for a safer world") and features automatic voice identification. Verint, a Nee York-based start-up that provides spy technology to everyone from Domino's Pizza to the National Security Agency, has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from Bush's terror war.

The Verint system will intercept tens of thousands of calls from the U.S. to Mexico and visa versa each day. Although these conversations will be officially recorded by Mexican authorities, the chatter will be admissible evidence in U.S. courts. Mexico's monopoly telephone company, Telmex, owned by Carlos Slim, the third richest man on the planet, tells reporters that it will comply with the government's eavesdropping plans.

Plan Colombia has sunk Colombia in a morass of corruption and human rights abuses. The drug war offensive was endorsed from its inception by the paramilitary "Autodefensa Unida de Colombia" or AUC, which, along with the long-lived leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), are prominent players on the Bush White House's terrorist list. The AUC, which is held responsible for 9000 extrajudicial killings since Plan Colombia kicked in (one leader, Salvatore Mancuso, boasts of 300 personal kills) shared the U.S. largesse in building up its arsenal and financed itself by drug running and extorting transnationals like Hyundai and Chiquita Banana Brands.

Now AUC leaders, whose 31,000 strong private army was granted amnesty in 2004, are spilling the beans to the Colombian Supreme Court about the extent of the paramilitaries' backing from the Uribe government and the military - 12 generals and 14 legislators in the national congress are under indictment in the escalating scandal that has severely eroded Uribe's presidency.

But Mexico's armed forces will not have to take lessons from their Colombian counterparts when it comes to violating human rights. In the latest of several such homicidal "incidents", Mexican troops opened fire on a family of five at a Sinaloa checkpoint June 2nd, killing three children. Rather than extending sympathy to the bereaved family, Mexico's Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna insisted that such tragedies are "the price we have to pay for our vigilance."

Details for the implementation of Plan Mexico were hammered out at a hush-hush June 9th closed door meeting in Morelos state just south of the capital that involved beleaguered U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, White House drug czar John Waters, and the attorney generals of Mexico and Colombia - Eduardo Medina Mora and Mario Iguaran. Iguaran recently replaced Luis Camilo Osorio as his nation's chief prosecutor - Osorio who is accused of whitewashing AUC's murderous activities is now his country's ambassador to Mexico.

As George Bush's only other Latin American ally besides Alvaro Uribe, Felipe Calderon borrowed a page from the faltering Colombian president's playbook by extraditing a dozen long-sought (but largely out of the loop) Mexican capos to the U.S. soon after taking office, an early signal that Mexican was ready to sell its sovereignty to Washington.

Both U.S. and Mexican authorities strongly deny that U.S. troops will be on the ground in Mexico anytime soon, a clear violation of Mexico's national sovereignty. Under Plan Colombia, U.S. forces grew to 800 "trainers", including 70 Green Beret Special Forces, and 600 private "contractors" (mercenaries.) Actually, Mexican troops receive extensive U.S. military training at Fort Bragg North Carolina's Center for Special Forces and Fort Benning, Georgia, the site of the infamous School of the Americas. Some of the trainees have since defected to the narco gangs, banding together in a truly terrorist brigade known as the "Zetas" who function as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel.

With Plan Colombia as a model, Plan Mexico would also open the door to the use of private military contractors like Blackwater, on the ground here.

Mexican police agencies, long gangrenous with corruption, are already being trained in country by the U.S. FBI. Washington is pushing for the development of a hemispheric police force that will be able to cross borders. The International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador is a kind of School of the Americas for cops, which reportedly employs former Salvadoran death squad members as trainers.

Since the U.S. and Mexico achieved nationhood two centuries ago, Washington has had designs on annexing its nearest neighbor to the south. The United States invasion of 1846-48, the so-called Mexican War, deposed Mexico of all of its northern territories that today comprise 13 U.S. western states. Since then, Washington has invaded and annexed Mexico from afar. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement in effect annexed Mexico's economy. Beginning with World War II and extending through the Cold War, the War on Drugs, and now the War on Terror, the U.S. has sought to annex Mexico's security apparatus. Plan Mexico is, in fact, a plan to lock in the annexation of Mexico.

John Ross is the author of "The Annexation of Mexico - From the Aztecs to the IMF" (Common Courage 1998.) He is again in residence in Mexico City cogitating the future. Contact johnross@igc.org if you have further information.
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