As Western Hemisphere leaders (with the possible exception of Cuba which most likely will not be invited) prepare to travel to Colombia in April for the Summit of the Americas, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has released a report in which it concludes that, between 2008 and 2011, around 250,000 teachers and students have been displaced by neo-paramilitary death squads, and such displacements continue to this day. These displacements have added to the swelling ranks of the over five million internally displaced people in Colombia -- one of the largest internally displaced population in the world.
According to Colombia Reports, the displacement of these teachers and students is the function of the death squads' violent recruitment efforts. As Colombia Reports explains, "according to UNHCR spokeswoman Adriana Buchelly, recruitment in schools by violent groups is causing massive displacement as children and teachers are forced to find new institutions due to threats or, in some cases, murder."
In related news, as Colombia continues to lead the world in the killing of unionists, it also remains the case that more than half of all unionists killed are teachers. Indeed, it is fair to say that Colombia is also the most dangerous country in the world to be a teacher. Thus, in 2010, out of the 51 unionists killed in Colombia, 29 were teachers; in 2011, out of the 26 confirmed union killings, 14 were teachers. Meanwhile, at least five unionists have been killed so far this year.
Still, the U.S. continues to give massive aid to the Colombian military which continues to be aligned with the paramilitary perpetrators of this extreme violence. Thus, the U.S. will give almost $270 million to the Colombian military and police this year and $260 million next year. And, this aid is still going to a military which, according to Human Rights Watch's most recent report, continues to work hand-in-glove with the death squads.
Underscoring the paramilitary links which underlie U.S. policy in Colombia, just yesterday it was reported by Colombia Reports that "Colombia's former executive director of the U.S.-funded counter-narcotics initiative 'Plan Colombia' was called for questioning Monday to respond to allegations she had ties with the AUC [paramilitaries] responsible for most drug trafficking from Colombia before its 2006 demobilization" According to the story, "Sandra Suarez, appointed by former President Alvaro Uribe in 2002 to work with the U.S. to combat drug trafficking, faces accusations she had ties to 'Jorge 40,' one of the paramilitary AUC's main leaders." The claim is that she "plotted with Jorge 40 and three former governors to expand the paramilitary's political power in the north of the country in 2006 when Suarez was minister of environment, housing and territorial development."
In short, it may be the case that Sanda Suarez, who was responsible for working with the U.S. to fight drugs in Colombia, was actually aiding and abetting the country's biggest drug traffickers and terrorists. This is a common story in Colombia, repeated over and over. From the beginning of Plan Colombia in 2000, the U.S. has been very aware of such links between the Colombian state it is bankrolling and these brutal paramilitary forces.
Surely, then, the U.S. is responsible for the atrocities which are being carried out by this paramilitary state, including the violence being carried out on a massive scale against Colombian children and their teachers.
The title of this very article, then, while certainly satirical, is nonetheless true.
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