Colombia, the paranoid state
Colombia, the paranoid state

by Seamus Fogarty

The plight of the three Irishmen on trial in Colombia for allegedly assisting left-wing guerrillas must be analysed in light of how the judicial system in that country has been perverted by right-wing paranoia which seems to pervade every aspect of life in that war-torn society.

The Colombian government operates in intense and close collusion with paramilitaries, undermining normal concepts of society and democracy in their counter-insugency efforts.

According to Latin-American author and journalist, Carlos Fazio, this project ``is the ultimate expression of the erosion of the rule of law, and demonstrates how the re-defining of social and moral values can distort the true meaning of words.''

Fazio points out how the Government and the Army use paramilitaries as a cover-up for the atrocities which they themselves condone -- assassinations and selective executions -- and how, due to 40 years of civil strife, many Colombians now believe that the truth is a lie, and vice-versa.


Fazio refers to the right-wing paramilitaries as skin-heads who use violence to impose their distorted notion of truth and reason. For these, he claims, to decapitate a victim is a way to terminate the reasoning process. Cutting out the tongue will silence denunciation while plucking out the eyes puts an end to vision and discernment.

Rape destroys the notion of privacy and intimacy...and the violent dislocation of entire communities destroys their sense of belonging, In this way, according to Fazio, fear and silence become the psychological basis for ``para-State power'', and official cover-up always guarantees impunity.

Political analyst Fazio defines paramilitarism as ``the product of a systematic strategy, sponsored by the State, and based on the classical counter-insurgency doctrine of the new model for low-intensity warfare.'' This model, he states, is supported by local landlords, local politicians, and is financed by drug barons as well as by large sectors of domestic and foreign business interests in Colombia.

In a country where the very notion of justice and the rule of law has been perverted and obliterated, it is inconceivable that the three Irishmen on trial there can get a fair hearing. Colombian government officials -- including the President -- have prejudiced the judicial process by attempting to situate the incident within the context of the Global War on Terror, and an Army General has demanded that the judge impose the maximum penalty. Judges in Colombia are not accustomed to dictating verdicts that might provoke the anger of the military establishment.

Only a well-organized international effort like that undertaken by the ``Bring Them Home Campaign'' can bring pressure on Colombian authorities to ensure that the three Irishmen are not to be used as ``scapegoats'' in the so-called Global War on Terror.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News