Activism Uncensored: Colombia in Chaos
As protests erupt on the streets of a longtime U.S. ally, the Biden administration and the American media wait to see whose side they're on
Any American correspondent working abroad will tell you: coverage of in-country upheavals are dictated by the nature of the government’s relationship to the United States. If they’re technically allies, protests tend to be portrayed as illegitimate. Hence the dilemma in Colombia, as depicted in this episode of Activism Uncensored.
Colombia for some time now has been considered America’s key strategic ally in South America — “think of it as similar to Israel in the Middle East,” says correspondent Maranie R. Staab, above. Colombia is the top recipient in the region of American aid, collecting $800 million in 2020 alone, being central to multiple American objectives, from drug interdiction to opposition to the left-wing government of Nicolas Maduro. The State Department last year issued a fact sheet explaining the relationship:
Colombia is a key U.S. partner in ongoing efforts to help Venezuela in its return to democracy and economic prosperity. Colombia’s leadership has been essential in coordinating regional support for Interim President Juan Guaidó, as well as condemning Maduro’s misrule and adopting policies to isolate his regime…
The usual “Democracy Promotion” script involves the U.S. backing this or that politician with money, weapons, and sometimes even military manpower, turning a blind eye to corruption or other excesses connected to that politician, then ultimately being forced to double down on the money and weapons when anti-American protest movements rise in response.
This isn’t exactly that situation, but close: a government in America’s good graces largely thanks to its role as a launching pad for the dubious effort to install Guaidó in Venezuela, under pressure from a frustrated and impoverished population reacting in this case to a proposed tax hike on basic goods.
Foreign news outlets like Al Jazeera have openly described the Colombian protests as a “class war,” while groups like Amnesty International have tried to bring attention to the fact that the Colombian police suspected in the disappearances of some of the protesters may be armed with American weapons. Outlets like the Washington Post, meanwhile, have used more neutral language in describing “anti-government protests,” almost describing the Duque administration as a bystander to the chaos:
The White House has taken notice. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged authorities last month to “continue to work to locate all missing persons as quickly as possible.” The government of President Iván Duque has said it’s doing all it can.
The Colombian attorney general’s office says it received 572 reports of people “not located…”
In most cases, the office told The Post, the reports “correspond to the normal dynamics of people who voluntarily left their family circle…”
The footage gathered by Staab, Ford Fischer, and News2Share above shows a different picture: the Colombian protests as a serious foreign policy dilemma for the Biden administration, which finds itself caught between its strategic sponsorship of the Colombian government and pressure to respond to wide-scale accusations of human rights violations.
When the U.S. doesn’t have a clear horse to back in these standoffs, coverage tends to be muted. Here we at least get a long look at the scene on the ground, where over 1,000 have been injured and at least 50 have been killed.
This take is just as accurate as the CNN’s “mostly peaceful protests” last year. To begin with, Duque’s government is as conservative as Biden’s. They are comparing a centrist to very left wing ideologues.
I am a Colombian with family in bogota and Barranquilla. These protestors have destroyed public and PRIVATE properly, attacked private shop owners, burned down businesses and are being agitated by supporters of Maduro. they are being led by faction of Petro’s henchmen, the ex-mayor of Bogota, a crooked, power hungry politician who is again trying to win the presidency next year. Petro was a disaster for Bogota. He is an inept leader whose Marxist beliefs and sympathy with Venezuela will ensure that Colombia WILL be the next Venezuela.
My brother’s business is paralyzed. He cannot transport materials that are waiting at the port and he cannot transport his good out for delivery. He cannot get paid, but he has to pay storage penalties at the port. During the pandemic, he has kept his employees working in safe and stable conditions, but he is unable to pay his rent and is losing business daily.
These so called protests are disruption the life of the country more than the pandemic, and if my brother has to close his business, many people will be put out of work. Many businesses are under this same stress. It is not sustainable and it is not genuine. People are being manipulated into believing that these protests are reasonable, but they are riots.
This is the consequence of the so called peace plan. After over 8 years of “taxes for the rich” where capital was taxed at disproportionate rates in order to pay for the peace deal, the country has not only seen the the rich and also international investors flee, losing jobs and opportunities, but it is still at war, still completely bankrupted and unable to help the vulnerable, and now the economy is handicapped.
young people in this video don’t understand what they are protesting for or against. They don’t understand the history of Marxism in the region, and they don’t seem to understand that this is the road to total collapse like in Venezuela.
We adopted our son from Medellin in 1987. Yes, 1987 when the country was Thunderdome. I spent time in Medellin and Bogota w/ Carlos before bringing him to Miami to meet his new mom. The country of Colombia is flawed, like all countries. But, the people are good, hardworking, religious, people. I saw the darkside of Colombia first hand as I saw the the good hearted side. People were so nice to me as I, a new dad, stayed in hotels w/ a 2 year old boy who spent the first 2 years of his life in orphanages and foster homes. The brave attorneys, judges, and journalists took their country back from billionaire sociopathic drug kingpins. It wasn't pretty! We need to care about Colombia. You see, our cocaine habit turned their country into chaos. Yes, the coke industry just moved elsewhere. But, we owe a debt to these people. Thanks Matt for writing this. I have been following the conflict, mostly from foreign sources. Please follow Matt's prompt and keep apprised of what is happening in that beautiful country.