A tribunal in Colombia has ordered the US troops that arrived last month as part of a Security Force Assistance Brigade to stop their activities as their tasks have not been debated and approved by the Senate, as required by the Constitution. The government has 3 days to appeal to the State Council, the appellate court in this instance.
The US sent 53 soldiers of its Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) to Colombia on 1 June with the official mission of assisting Colombia’s military in counter-narcotics operations in areas that are still heavily affect by the social and armed conflict. The Colombian Congress only found out about the pending deployment a few days earlier, via a posting at the US Embassy website announcing the planned deployment.
The Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal ordered the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, to suspend the operations of the US military in the national territory within 48 hours.
The Court’s ruling was in response to a petition sent on 12 June by 25 Senators of the National Congress, headed by Iván Cepeda of the Alternative Democratic Pole (Polo Democrático Alternativo).political party.
The Court orders the president, within 48 hours after notification of this decision, to send to the Senate all the information and information related to the entry, arrival and permanence of the United States Army Security Force Assistance Brigade. .
The Tribunal also ordered the president to suspend official authorization for any activity of the military brigade in the national territory while the Senate assumes its exclusive role of political control over all deployments of foreign military personnel in Colombia, as required by the Colombian Constitution.
The congressmen stated that they filed the petition in order to “nullify the agreement with the US government pursuant to which the transit and deployment of foreign troops in the national territory was authorized,” which could result in Colombia getting involved in a military confrontation which could spiral out of control and that could lead to an international armed conflict with Venezuela. LINK
For Senator Iván Cepeda, the presence of foreign troops subverts the implementation of the Peace Agreement by turning territories for the implementation of social development plans into theaters of war with a foreign military presence, which presuppose an aggression against farming communities in vast areas of the country.
Colombia Reports commented regarding the latest development:
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told Congress he didn’t need such permission after which opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda took the matter to the Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal.
Trujillo, whose father was openly praised by late drug lord Pablo Ecobar, was already under pressure over his failure to effectively reduce cocaine production.
Congress has demanded the defense minister implement the counternarcotics element of a 2016 peace deal with the FARC, which prioritizes crop substitution.
The White House has been pushing for a more hard-line approach, including the aerial fumigation of coca.
The defense minister is doing neither of these and additionally has been ordered to end joint forced eradication operations.
Apart from that, Trujillo’s promise to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper to increase the forced eradication of coca to a record 130,000 hectares this year is falling apart.
Instead of increasing this notoriously ineffective strategy with 40%, the Defense Ministry reported a 30% drop in forcibly eradicated hectares of coca in the first four months of the year.
Meanwhile, potential cocaine production reached a new record level in 2019, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. LINK
The Duque administration has three days to challenge the decision before the Council of State. It is likely to do so, arguing that there are already bilateral military agreements between the US and Colombia which cover the activities. However, this argument has been rejected by the Constitutional Court when former president Alvaro Uribe purported to grant the US military unlimited access to nine Colombian military bases, as the military operations to be conducted by the recently arrived troops are not specifically covered by the existing agreements. The US already has around 400 military personnel in Colombia and up to 800 military contractors.
According to successive US and Colombian governments since at least the 1960s, the purpose of the military alliance is to protect democracy, human rights and free markets in Colombia and the Western hemisphere. According to critics, the alliance serves to advance US economic political and military interests in the region and locks Colombia into strategic subordination to the US, in return for which the US supports Colombian economic and political elites. An essay in the Historic Commission, established jointly by the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government during the peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba, argued of the bilateral military relationship.
When one analyses the causes of the social and armed conflict in Colombia, the factors and interests that have prolonged the conflict, and the impacts it has had on the civil population, it is apparent that the United States is not simply a minor external influence but has been a direct participant in the conflict due to its prolonged involvement during much of the twentieth century. Public awareness of the participation of the United States has been deliberately minimized by its covert nature; in accordance with this strategy, many of its activities in Colombia have been “planned and executed in such a manner that they can be hidden, or at least enabling plausible deniability of responsibility for such actions.”
These activities are conducted in the context of a relationship of subordination, understood as a relationship of dependency in which the national interests of Colombia have been placed at the service of a third party (the United States), which is perceived as being endowed with political, economic, cultural and moral superiority. It is an unequal and asymmetrical relationship that has assumed a strategic character, as the very existence of the Colombian republic is thought to be inextricably linked to its condition of subordination to the United States, due to which it is more appropriate to speak of a strategic rather than a pragmatic subordination. According to one Colombian defender of the relationship of subordination: “the most efficient way to guarantee our national sovereignty is to maintain ourselves as a dedicated ally under the protective umbrella of the United States.” The association of imperialist dependency with national sovereignty is indicative of the contradictory reasoning and logic of its supporters.
Understood as “subordination by invitation”, the relations between the United States and Colombia require an examination of the active role of the people in power that have maintained the condition of dependency, particularly given the fact that “there has been a pact between the national elites for more than one hundred years, for whom the subordination has produced economic and political benefits.”
These benefits are administered through practices of patronage that permeate all of the political and social institutions and structures in Colombia. The utilization of patronage through international networks and relations is readily apparent in all sectors of the State, the Army and the Police, for whom the foreign support and the military budget are private bounties that confer them power and privilege, creating a military caste that is considered to be untouchable.
A full copy of the essay is available HERE.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Colombia’s Supreme Court opens another criminal investigation against former president Alvaro Uribe
- Selective assassinations continue unabated in Colombia
- Lawfare Colombian-style legal political and quasi-judicial harassment persecution and counterinsurgency operations in Colombia