Campaign of the Month: War Tax Resistance in Colombia


In Colombia we do not know exactly the payment of which tax directly contributes to the war. All national taxes come together in a common fund and then the government redistributes it, sending more than 50% of the national budget to debt issues: Internal and external and militarisation. Therefore in Colombia we can not talk about not paying a specific tax, but rather must restrain from taxes paying in general, in opposition to the democratic security policies and the plans for war, because of the way taxes are redistributed the funds marked as "aid" ends up strengthening the war initiatives as global neoliberal policies.

In the internal war, the economy is one of war, which manifests itself in various ways, one of them are multinational companies and service providers, that explode the natural monopolies of water, gas, oil and minerals, which need "security" which is provided by the state through the democratic security, as well as weapons, intelligence, and payment of bribes to right-wing armies, counter-insurgents or paramilitary, in order to protect the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure installed to enrich the economic groups and private companies.

We consider these war profiteers, not only because those who profit from the arms industry are part of these economic groups acting out of neoliberalism, but anyone who somehow moves the war machine, develops a strategy designed to make profit, while selling but not executing the destruction of life.

As an example and denunciation, we cite accusations made in the peoples’ court in relation to multinationals:

  • Chiquita Brans - that smuggles arms for armed groups, financed paramilitary groups and threatened workers;
  • Drummond – gave the command to assassinate 3 union leaders, financed paramilitary groups and threatened workers;
  • Muriel Mining Corporation - is accused of financing paramilitary groups, forced displacement, torture, slaughter of 85 people in Operation Genesis (Uraba, commanded by General Rito Alejo del Rio), robbing communities and indigenous genocide;
  • Glencore-Xstrata, BHP Billintong and American Anglona - were blamed for the slaughter of two indigenous Wayú, as well as other disappearances and forced displacement;
  • Pizano SA and its subsidiary of logging Darien - for environmental pollution, fraud in the sale of land, financing paramilitary groups, threats, forced disappearances and displacement, dispossession to Afro-Colombian communities:
  • Urapalma S.A - for environmental pollution, illegal planting of 7,000 hectares of Palma, fraud in the sale of land, forced displacement, financing paramilitary groups, dispossession and genocide against indigenous and Afro-Colombians
  • DynCorp - was blamed for environmental pollution, indiscriminated use of pesticide substances (Glyphosate), displacement, forced disappearance, drug trafficking, rape of minors, smuggling of arms and ammunition, mercenaries, torture and genocide of indigenous; among many others ....

This war economy, in which the United States invests through Plan Colombia is to protect mining companies that have headquarters in the country, also delivers much of the alleged "aid" to U.S. companies that engage in intelligence activities and military training, in order to maintain its domestic economy of war.

Parallel to this, to collect the money that will be spent on militarisation, the Colombian government increases more and more taxes, but not all taxes,, Only those paid by the poorest:

Especially VAT (value added tax) and deductions that are made to the wages of the poorest: to maintain the social security system. While all the "aid" grants, which the State gives to private companies are returned in the timely payment to the state tax, tax which is levied for war, which further increases the investment in military equipment, training, weapons procurement and construction of battalion.

There are military expenditures, that the government shows as social spending (to improve the living conditions of citizens). The government calls social programmes such as demobilization and reintegration and specialized programmes for peace which are actually war investments. Thus the government inflated" figures of the budget that goes to social spending, because it lists under this heading the resources invested in areas such as security, defence, environment and pensions which should not be considered as social spending.

Some costs of the militarisation are not easily visible. They don't include as military, investments in roads, security of highways, which are carried out only in accordance with the needs of the war developments, and of mega-projects and the operational activity that facilitate the actions of the security forces. As such, the 'Guardians of the Road', whose purpose is to increase the presence of the security forces with motorized squads to exercise permanent control of the national road network; energy and battalions that "protect" the road infrastructure for the construction of hydroelectric and mega-projects, in the case of Antioquia the dam Porce III, the area where a dam will be built, as well as Pescadero-Ituango, the river port of Turbo and the bridge of Yondó-Barrancabermeja.

In this state of affairs, plan Colombia, the social expenditures that are converted into military items, plans for disarmament and the promotion of foreign investment are all part of the policies used to maintain a corrupt,and military state in Colombia,. This militarisation also includes the gradual disappearance of civil liberties, the increase in civilians carrying firearms, the sale of state enterprises utilities, endorsing privatization, legal guarantees to multinationals and transnational entrepreneurs, to the detriment of the public's collective heritage and the rights of peoples.

Then the escalation of military spending, drugs and arms trafficking are the reasons that the officials and entrepreneurs use to justify the increase in the production and development of arms. The Security Forces of Colombia with their centres for the manufacture and maintenance of weapons, boats, ships and aircraft, intend to consolidate the military enterprises as mixed ones, to be more competitive and profitable, in order to join the global military trade.

In Colombia there are 1,246,601 registered weapons between revolvers, shotguns, pistols, carbines, machine guns and rifles. One million of these weapons don't have the licenses. 80.2% are still awaiting to be confiscated, only 19.8% or 246,601 weapons have legal permit.

In this same line there are other "companies" that require and buy weapons, and they create routes through all the country's borders to carry out their "missions", ie drug trafficking is a factor that produces a large exchange of illegal arms trafficking. While in Colombia there are a large number of legal weapons in the hands of individuals (and without ratifying safe conduct permit). There is a special relationship between the routes of arms smuggling and the roads of where the cocaine is moved, but "what is more serious is that much of weapons that are illegal were purchased legally in the United States, Central America and some countries of South America. Another part was taken from the armed forces of neighbouring countries and there is also the "home made", so difficult to prosecute like the drug traffic "

The question is why the resources we have are not distributed in health, housing, education, dignified employment, food, tranquillity and confidence of the citizens of lower income? But rather goes to the consolidation plans for war and for security forces that in their effort to demonstrate that efficiency violate the human rights of the people.

In conclusion, within our context, it is legitimate to devise mechanisms to object to tax authorities, and for not paying taxes to the State which are destined for a war that fails to defend our interests, but rather are a personal project of landowners, ranchers, unions and foreign investment. Especially when we have to pay for our rights as luxury services.

The tax resistance must begin with the creation of a movement that, sets the ground for it by:

  • Developing and promoting mechanisms to disseminate the information about general budgets to make them clear to the community
  • Knowing the military institution in Colombia and its militarization
  • Creating mechanisms of knowledge and information for the community in terms of money allocated to state entities military, the collection and redistribution of budgets, resources and foreign aid plans for war taking place in Colombia
  • Creating a citizen observation group to look at the money allocated to the military, as well as the collection and distribution of the budget
  • The promotion of non-payment to the military card
  • Knowledge and activation of mechanisms for enforcing through the inspection bodies regarding the respect to the enforcement budget.
  • A campaign that promotes that the money levied from the estate tax should be investing in hospitals and payment of public debts of the poorest communities in the country.
  • A campaign that allocations of money from the defence sector in Colombia should be under military jurisdiction that exempts them from giving accounts to the civil service for their spending and investments year after year.

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