For over forty years Colombia, the last of Washington’s remaining “death squad democracy” clients in the Western Hemisphere, has waged a relentless counterinsurgency war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC} and an equally ruthless campaign with its US-trained and -equipped military and allied paramilitary formations against trade union, peasant, indigenous and other organizations. An estimated 40,000 have been killed and 2 million displaced as a result of the fighting.
On June 29 US President Barack Obama hosted his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe at the White House and weeks later it was announced that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops to five air and naval bases in Colombia, the largest recipient of American military assistance in Latin America and the third largest in the world, having received over $5 billion from the Pentagon since the launching of Plan Colombia nine years ago.
Six months before the Obama-Uribe meeting outgoing US President George W. Bush bestowed the US’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, on Uribe as well as on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
A press account of the time expressed both shock and indignation at the White House’s honoring of Uribe in writing that “Despite extra-judicial killings, paramilitaries and murdered unionists, Colombia’s President Uribe has won the US’s highest honor for human rights.”