External resources relating to Colombia

This image shows South American state-owned companies that produce law enforcement equipment, providing information on the goods they produce, transfers, commercial alliances and promotional activity.  Company ownership provides states with additional control over the manufacture and trade of law enforcement equipment, but also comes with human rights obligations.

La Guajira, Colombia: On Wednesday 24 February, the last family of villagers who had returned to the old village site at Roche out of frustration at conditions in the new settlement constructed by Cerrejon Coal were brutally evicted by Colombian police. The wholly unnecessary violence was reminiscent of the notorious eviction of the village of Tabaco in 2001 – an event the like of which we had hoped would never occur again.

In line with the progressive trend to transfer public services and activities to the private sector
(health, education, transport, etc), recent decades have seen the outsourcing of nuclear powers of
state sovereignty as sensitive as military and security functions. While the presence of private actors
– either mercenaries or contractors - in the military and security arena is not new, the scale and
scope of their activities do represent a new phenomenon today. On the one hand, the States rely on
private contractors to a greater extent than ever for guaranteeing public safety or supporting their
war efforts abroad.

In the PAX report 'The Dark Side of Coal' perpetrators and witnesses state that two international mining companies in the department of Cesar in Colombia collaborated with paramilitaries responsible for widespread violence. Thousands of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been driven from their land. The businesses concerned, the American Drummond and Prodeco from Switzerland, have denied the allegations. The many victims and their families are still waiting for recognition and compensation.

The report, Preach What You Practice: The Separation of Military and Police Roles in the Americas, from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) provides a background briefing on key distinctions between military and police functions. It calls on the Obama Administration to change direction, and stop encouraging the military forces of other countries to take on roles that would be illegal for the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out at home. The authors, a team of WOLA’s regional security experts, set out specific steps to be taken by both United States and countries in the region.

Israeli military exports to South America have been on the rise in the recent years. Brazil is gearing up to become the gateway for Israeli military technology and companies. Israel continues to be a top supplier of the Colombian military. Ecuador, while not having extensive military ties with Israel, has recently purchased drone aircraft. Chile, already a buyer of Israeli arms, also has expressed interest in similar drone technology.

It is the goal of this report to analyze these trends, both in light of recent events and also as they relate to the history of Israeli involvement in South America. We will highlight that it is impossible for South America’s democratic governments to reconcile protection of human rights - whether at home or abroad - with military ties and arms trade with Israel.

Any military ties with Israel support the state’s policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, policies whose sustainability depends on Israeli military capacities and the profits deriving from its military industry,  and adversely affect the Palestinians and their struggle. Israel has developed an indigenous military industry that produces much of the equipment used by its military.  International buyers help ensure the survival of the Israeli military industry.