Colombia Is Under Siege by Marxist Narcoterrorists

If the top U.S. ally falls, so goes Latin America 

Commentary

Organized guerrillas and a totalitarian regime are attempting to overthrow the legitimate government of Colombia, the most crucial U.S. ally in Latin America.

Funded by narco-dollars and motivated by power and Marxist ideology, this terrorist alliance has propagated a misperception: that its mass violence in Colombian cities, which spiked on April 28, began as spontaneous opposition to a tax proposal. President Iván Duque rescinded the reform on May 2, but the illegal blockades and police-station attacks did not skip a beat.

The guise went unchallenged in a July 1 congressional hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. What participants in the hearing failed to comprehend was the barbarism, competence, and cunning of the enemy. Antifa and Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone are child’s play compared to hardened guerrillas, wealthy drug cartels, and anti-American regimes. Most recently, they blockaded Cali, a city with over 2 million residents. That halted 90 percent of public transport, and access to the airport and the Buenaventura Port.

The Venezuelan Connection

The impetus for the violence in Colombia—following similar uprisings in Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador—comes especially from the dictatorship in Venezuela, whose misery has wrought Latin America’s largest ever exodus. The regime has long eyed domination of Colombia, and in 2004 Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba created the Bolivarian Alliance as a counterweight to U.S. regional influence.

Now under Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan regime’s first goal is the overthrow of the Duque administration. The second goal is a constitutional assembly similar to Venezuela’s in 1999 and Chile’s this year. The third is the installation of political frontmen for narcotraffickers and guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). On April 7, Diosdado Cabello, vice president of Venezuela’s ruling United Socialist Party, warned, “We are going to wage war on your territory.”

Colombia is no stranger to Marxist terrorists and narcotraffickers—often one and the same—and nearly succumbed to them from the 1980s through the early 2000s. The U.S.-backed Plan Colombia, initiated in 1999, and an assertive President Álvaro Uribe, in office 2002–2010, forced the narcoterrorists to retreat.

In 2016, Colombian voters rejected any deal with the FARC, who deserve nothing but punishment. However, then President Juan Manuel Santos caved to the guerrillas and rewarded them with amnesty and perks, even congressional seats, for publicly laying down their weapons. The FARC deal conveyed the message that violence works, and the so-called dissident FARC picked up right where their peers left off. The FARC 2.0 has expanded operations and found safe haven in Venezuela, as has the ELN.

Negotiating with terrorists was a mistake then, and it would be a mistake now. However, Colombian institutions—especially the police and the anti-riot squad—are overwhelmed. Colombia is facing a war, not just because of the violence but because of the economic toll. The Finance Ministry estimates daily losses from the uprising, now in its second month, at $125 million—$2.8 billion in total.

Fake News Foments Enemy Narrative

As noted by Joseph Humire of the Center for a Secure Free Society, “This is a threat Colombia cannot solve alone.” The international problem compels an international solution, which requires defeating misinformation in the media.

This is where deep-pocketed foreign entities have backed the uprising. In three days from the April 28 calls for protests, more than 7,000 bots from Russia and Bangladesh swarmed social media and amplified the socialist narrative. They distorted reality by creating hundreds of fake news stories, including doctored videos, to pit human-rights organizations against the police.

In addition to calling for police reforms, aggressive labor unions pounced on the outrage and garnered international sympathy with the rhetoric of progressive proposals: a universal basic income, tuition-free university, and modern monetary theory, among others.

Duque has already backed police reforms, so they are a non-sequitur. They cannot happen in a day, and beating up on the police when they’re literally being fire-bombed is a recipe for undermining the rule of law entirely.

Drug Money Pays the Bills

Behind the smokescreen of these proposals and events is narcotrafficking. Maduro, according to U.S. authorities, leads the Soles drug cartel—the region’s most powerful, backed by the Venezuelan state. Narcotraffickers intend to unify their operations over a territory spanning the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which means taking over Colombia.

Illicit flows by land, amid lawlessness akin to Venezuela, would increase significantly. If Colombia falls into the hands of narcotraffickers, it will undermine the entire region’s security.

Colombia is under siege by a mafia of urban guerrillas shielding themselves behind a mirage of progressive protests. While international media have failed to present the situation accurately, lawmakers cannot afford to observe Colombia with a blind spot towards the usurpers.

Fergus Hodgson is the director of Econ Americas. María Fernanda Cabal is a Colombian senator.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.