A new record of terror

12 MARCH 2012

Modern day US imperialism and a class war between peasants and a new 'narco-bourgeoisie' lies at the heart of the Colombian cocaine trade and international efforts to suppress it, according to a CSU lecturer and co-author of a new book.

Modern day US imperialism and a class war between peasants and a new ‘narco-bourgeoisie’ lies at the heart of the Colombian cocaine trade and international efforts to suppress it, according to a Charles Sturt University (CSU) lecturer and co-author of a new book.
 
Dr Oliver Villar, a lecturer in politics at the CSU School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Bathurst, has just published Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: US Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia, with co-author Dr Drew Cottle. Dr Villar wrote his PhD thesis on the political economy of Colombia in the context of the cocaine drug trade and has published broadly on the inter-American cocaine drug trade, the US war on drugs and terror in Colombia, and US-Colombian relations.
 
“In this book we set out to determine whether the official reasons given for the wars on drugs and related war on terror in Colombia were plausible, or whether there are other, deeper factors at work,” Dr Villar said.
 
“We analysed the cocaine trade and its ‘class’ dimensions in particular. We found that this trade has fueled extensive economic growth which led to the development of a ‘narco-state’ under the control of a ‘narco-bourgeoisie’, which is not interested in eradicating cocaine at all but in gaining a monopoly over its production, distribution and profits.
 
“The principal target of efforts to suppress the cocaine trade is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP), the world’s oldest left-wing rebel movement, which challenges that monopoly, as well as the very existence of the Colombian state.”
 
Dr Villar asserts that despite the official propaganda, US business interests benefit from the cocaine trade and work to maintain a dominant, imperialist relationship with Colombia, their most important client state in Latin America.
 
“The premise of the book is that despite massive funds to combat drugs in Colombia (which has cost US tax payers $7 billion since 2000 – second only to the Middle East for the various wars against Al-Qaeda), Washington has in effect allied itself with one of the most brutal regimes in the world, which is responsible for the world's supply of cocaine. According to a Wikileaks cable, a 19 November 2009 US Embassy cable titled ‘2009-2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report’, the US Embassy in Bogotá acknowledges 257 089 registered victims by the right-wing paramilitary death squads. This shatters Guatemala’s record of 200 000 victims in the 1980s. More disturbingly, the new Latin American record has been artificially lowered through mass graves and Nazi-style crematoriums. It also exacerbates a new world record of 5.2 million internally displaced refugees,” he said.
 
“As always, it is the peasants and workers of Colombia who suffer the brutal consequences in the only major country in Latin America where the gap between the rich and poor has markedly widened in recent years, according to the UN Commission on Latin America. Key targets of this terror are unionists and teachers, making Colombia the murder capital of the world for these professions.”

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