Whenever I visit a “third world” country I feel constantly frustrated, and living in Colombia is no different. The frustration may appear to be on the surface of my experience, why can’t I cross the road without it being a life-threatening experience, why are some things more expensive here than in the UK, and why are there so many poor people? But I know it goes a lot deeper than these trivial daily difficulties.
You can never find immediate answers to these questions, and despite having some basic historical knowledge about the history of South America – like the brutality of Spanish colonialism and the large numbers of indigenous tribes that were wiped out by them – there is also a lot I don’t know about South and Central American politics.
Last night we watched John Pilger’s documentary “The War on Democracy” – it is, first of all, incredible. Informative and well-researched. The American “Empire” as he calls it, IS so obviously an Empire, and one that we rarely acknowledge. We still associate empires with “history” but in fact this one is reigning still today. I know this documentary is old, but its historical value is still relevant, as Pilger highlights the root causes to many of the issues that are still prevalent today in South and Central America.
He talks primarily about Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and Venezuela, just a few of the countries that have suffered in the hands of the USA. The number of brutal “secret” coups orchestrated by the US, and the often successful overthrowing of democratically placed governments, is staggering. The power of the US to influence the small minority of the richest 2% of each of these impoverished countries is overwhelming – and a cause of the obvious disparity of poverty. The US keep their chosen few rich “chums” close and paid well, and in exchange acquire complete control and power over the seemingly endless and fruitful resources of the South and Central America. It’s just they don’t tell everyone this, I wonder why?
Venezuela was the third biggest supplier of oil to the USA when this documentary was made – and here in Colombia the natural reserves of unrefined oil, emeralds, gold, platinum, coffee, tropical fruits, to name just a few, are continually plundered, while Colombia reaps very little profit, and sees no investments in infrastructure and tools like oil refineries to improve their economy. While Pilger’s documentary doesn’t talk specifically about Colombia, the same ruling applies here. The resources are vast, and yet ordinary people rarely see the benefits of living in such a “rich” place.
America entered into Colombia in the 90s under the guise of “Plan Colombia” – a military “aid” program said to target the drug trafficking problem. But what this actually meant was the US military had free reign over Colombia. They attacked the farms they thought were growing drugs and burned them to the ground. Despite the obvious destruction that drug trafficking has brought to Colombia, what Plan Colombia actually left were farmers without farms and worse off than before.
As Alfred McCoy discusses in his book “CIA Involvement in Drug Trafficking” it gets worse. There are numerous and relentless allegations that the CIA is directly connected, and behind, global drug trafficking, including in Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela. I guess any inquisitive mind would wonder woefully why the US have never successfully stopped drug trafficking, it still continues today, when they can overthrow whole governments so easily?
The capitalism in so-called “third world” countries like Colombia is also extraordinary. Local products are replaced with more expensive “desirable” US products, and I have heard first hand from local business owners that people trust American brands, and prefer American products over Colombian products that are locally made and cheaper. As a result, people pay over the odds to be part of the trustworthy “American dream” and rarely invest in their own economy and resources. American propaganda is abundant, billboards, adverts and large investments in turning Colombia into another US state. Another example of South America again at the whims of the US Empire.
All in all, when I visit a third world country now, thanks to the brave and investigative journalism that exists, I can try to, at least, understand why these problems still exist, why people are stuck, why people can’t forge a better life for themselves. It’s because they are trapped. They are still colonised, but this time by the US empire. The US is playing a game of checkers, and South and Central America will never get the chance to move a piece while they are at the hands of this deep American influence. They aren’t even playing a lot of the time, they are watching their culture and incredible resources slip out of their hands.
Of course, not everyone is just watching. There have been a lot of successful retaliations against the US Empire, but sadly against what they have labelled the “reds” to their US followers and fear mongers, translated to free-thinkers and believers in democracy in reality, they are still winning. They continue to disseminate their culture overtly throughout the continents, and behind their secret “Gestapo-like” CIA organisation it is impossible to know in just how many ways they are controlling these countries, and indeed the rest of the world, particularly in parts of the Middle East, without people knowing. It’s brutal, it’s lies, it’s lives, and it’s history repeating itself again and again.