God's Politics

God's Politics

Janna Hunter-Bowman: U.S.-Trained Colombian General Has Terrorist Ties

This piece by Adam Isacson of the Center for International Policy is particularly revealing of the high-level links between members of the Colombian government (including military) and right-wing paramilitary groups that are included on the U.S. list of World Terrorist Organizations. CIA evidence incriminates a celebrated military commander trained at the U.S. military training center formerly called the School of the Americas. Gen. Mario Montoya’s case is part of a much broader scandal unraveling at an almost dizzying pace.

Of course, here in Colombia, Gen. Montoya is denying all charges, scoffing at CIA evidence, and lambasting the LA Times for being irresponsible. The Colombian government is publicly supporting the General. Might this test the cozy international relationship between these the U.S. and Colombia, two countries that so need each other, politically, at this time? Read excerpts from Isacson’s piece below:

The front page of today’s Los Angeles Times has a huge piece of news: “The CIA has obtained new intelligence alleging that the head of Colombia’s U.S.-backed army collaborated extensively with right-wing militias that Washington considers terrorist organizations, including a militia headed by one of the country’s leading drug traffickers.”

According to the story, a U.S. intelligence document accuses Gen. Mario Montoya of collaborating closely with paramilitaries in one of the signature military operations of President Uribe’s first term.

Gen. Montoya’s men were working hand-in-glove with the paramilitary group headed by “Don Berna” – Diego Fernando Murillo, a feared paramilitary chief whom the U.S. government wishes to extradite to face drug-trafficking charges.

This means big trouble for U.S. military aid to Colombia. Gen. Montoya has been a favorite of the United States. He was trained, and even served as an instructor, at the U.S. Army School of the Americas. He headed “Joint Task Force South,” the unit that coordinated U.S.-funded military operations in southern Colombia when Plan Colombia began.

We’re not talking about a rogue “bad apple” from a hard-line military faction. These allegations of paramilitary collaboration are leveled at the head of Colombia’s entire army. The LA Times piece goes on to allege that Montoya’s immediate superior, the head of the entire armed forces, is not beyond suspicion either.

These revelations are emerging at a crucial moment, as the new Democratic-controlled Congress begins to consider U.S. aid to Colombia for next year. Many of those involved in drafting the aid legislation are critics of the mostly military nature of past U.S. assistance to Colombia. Most have gone on record several times expressing concerns about human rights, and about allegations of military-paramilitary collaboration.

The U.S. and Colombian authorities have repeatedly assured these congressional critics that charges of military-paramilitary ties are (1) false or exaggerated; (2) something that happens at low levels but is not tolerated at the top; or (3) a problem that is rapidly disappearing as the armed forces improve. These arguments have come from ambassadors, generals, State Department officials, and President Uribe himself; as a result, members of Congress – even skeptics – have generally had to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The “benefit of the doubt” disappears when the LA Times’ front page can report that the military’s top leadership truly collaborated with paramilitaries on a recent, high-profile military offensive like Operation Orion. Key members of Congress will be left feeling that their longtime suspicions have been confirmed, and are likely to act accordingly.

The U.S. policy that began with Plan Colombia is in bigger trouble today than it has ever been.

Janna Bowman is the Documentation and Advocacy program coordinator for Justapaz, the Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action of the Colombian Mennonite Church. Join Christians from across North America and Colombia in Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia, May 20-21. Learn more and find resources to participate at

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posted March 30, 2007 at 1:19 am

Stop foreign aid now. How many more of these stories do we need to read before we realize that foreign aid channeled through government is empowering to power seekers? Also, legalize drug, and take away the black market which empowers these thugs. Nathanael Snow

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Joseph T

posted March 30, 2007 at 5:43 am

It is not even particularly channeled through government. This would imply that the intention was to provide the Columbian leaders with financial means to bring peace and economic stability to the country. Mostly we give the corrupt leaders weapons so they can control the lion’s share of the drug traffic and support our global economic and political strategies.The poor and peaceable, those who seek justice and those who want to be be left out of the war are caught in the crossfire. American policy in Columbia has been a disaster for the people of Columbia. It is one of the deadliest places on earth for judges, uncorrupted politicians, journalists and human rights workers.Entire villages get wiped out. This ugly war has been going on far longer than Iraq. Columbia and Mexico are the last major outposts of American neo colonial influence in the southern hemisphere. It is not a benign legacy. Personally I think decriminalization a very imperfect solution. Publicly marketed products have to meet safety standards. I think we should use progressive fines instead of jail time . Think about this. If we can’t stop thousands of tons of drugs from coming here, how is a color coded alert system going to stop WMDs?

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kevin s.

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:41 am

“Personally I think decriminalization a very imperfect solution. Publicly marketed products have to meet safety standards. I think we should use progressive fines instead of jail time.” How is it imperfect? Do ciagrettes meet safety standards? Alcohol? Diet soda? Why can’t we put things in our body that are unsafe?”Think about this. If we can’t stop thousands of tons of drugs from coming here, how is a color coded alert system going to stop WMDs?” This is apples and oranges…

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Ms. Cynthia

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:02 am

It is this administration that has been recruiting Central and South Americans to go to Iraq to fight for them. Do we really want South American militia leaders to have a relationship their counter parts in the Middle East? This is going to come back and haunt us some day.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 7:13 pm

It’s fascinating how a “Progressive,” a Marxist Secular Humanist(communist without doubt), can write big trouble for America without even the slightest tinge of guilt for what they desire to do TO America as well. Hugo Chavez and all of the totalitarianism he is building in Latin America is simply cheered on by the Leftists of the United States. Fascinating.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Hugo Chavez and all of the totalitarianism he is building in Latin America is simply cheered on by the Leftists of the United States. Donny Instead of your communist-baiting, Donny, why don’t you try to address the issue at hand, i.e that the U.S. is supporting some pretty unsavory characters in Latin America. When you stop starting from assumption that the U.S. is perfect and look at the world as it is- a very corrupt place (United States included), then maybe then your views will come into alignment with reality. Or is that you like this general? Maybe his social views and yours coincide?

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Michael Kotyk

posted March 31, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Why am I not surprised that we have continued to support those who do not meet our own supposed values of liberty, democracy and human rights? Our foreign policy has not changed since the end of the Cold War. It is still a versiion of ‘my enemies enemy is my friend’.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 4:21 am

While Progressives promote the Humanist Manifesto’s version of morality, they have not a single right to decry the horror’s commited by anyone else. Watch one abortion for the definition of both murder and Leftist ideology and actions. Then “move on” to Progressives and Liberals (always Leftist) taxing society into pure communism, and then the redefinition of the family, for an even more evil slice of Progressive actions. All deadly and totalitarian. Like a typical Leftist political leader.

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Deno Reno

posted April 1, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Our foreign Policy has not changed since the Cold War..M.K. YHave you ever heard of Ho Chi Min our enemy in Viet-Nam He was our ally in WW2,fighting the Japanesein indo China.Or Noriega in Panama He was our go-to guy there till he fellout of favor, with Pres R.R.; We relied on Saddam Hussain to punish Iran for taking our captives in 1979.And we utilized a Saudi Arabian as our point man opposing the Russian incursion into Afghanistan in the eighties. we should not be suprised tha a Colombian General is playing both sides, there. After all we (American Taxpayers) are footing the bill on both sides of the War in Iraq Our tax money pays for troops and equip. and our thirst for OIL pays the expenses for our foes in Iraq & Afghanistan!

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Deno Reno

posted April 1, 2007 at 8:49 pm

World Peace is right around the corner ! April fools. Have a Great Palm Sunday ; And a Happy Easter !!

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Deno Reno

posted April 1, 2007 at 8:57 pm

P.S Saudi Arabian in Afghanistan fighting Russians for U.S. // Osama Bin Laden! And We keep on the same Foreign Policy Strategy even after admitting we/U.S. Have made grevious mistakes impacting our future security and U.S. hegemony as a superpower.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Donny–I visit another blog from time to time, and people who come on there and troll for reactions by making outlandish and inflammatory statements like you do are eventually “disemvoweled”. In other words, all their words are published, but without the vowels. You have been treated with the utmost of patience here, even though you are clearly not interested in discussing anything, but prefer to drop your inflammatory, sweeping generalizations from your tragic black and white perspective on the world. Butch–you are right! The best response is to ignore Donny. He adds nothing to any debate. Unfortunately, new people pop in from time to time unaware of his tactics, and get sucked into his wiles. I concede any point I made justifying my engagement of him in conversation. Don’t feed the trolls! Donny–I truly hope that you learn of Christ’s love, forgiveness, and grace and that He works those character traits into your life as you grow in Him. You seem to me like one who is consumed by bitterness, and you can’t grow when that sucks you down. May you learn of the joy and compassion of the Lord and his love for all people, even those who don’t see things the way you do. God loves even communists (gasp).

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posted April 2, 2007 at 4:29 am

Donny, May blessings be heaped upon you. p

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posted April 2, 2007 at 5:32 am

From which god Payshun? I only desire blessings from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.The most amazing thing about an American and European Leftist, is the ease at which they support horrors. But they never do a thing to stop them, while always willing to charge Republicans with some nasty thing or other. Why not treat Humanists, Hugo Chavez and the Leftists of Latin America with the same bit of judgement.What good is godless communism? It only ends up killing people in numbers too big to count.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Hahahaha, Donny you’re the comic relief of this blog – I get such a kick out of reading your posts. Please, keep them coming – we need a little humor to balance things out.

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posted April 4, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Donny is an excellent witness for Christianity. I wish he would post in other forums. His demeanor and compassion demonstrate exactly what true Christianity has become, and why it needs to be abandoned if we wish to preserve this nation. So please, Donny, keep posting…and thanks!!!

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