It’s Obama’s Back Yard Now

(IPS) – The head of Colombia’s biggest association of indigenous people is concerned that allowing U.S. troops to use military bases in his country will signal a regression to former times when the United States exercised control over Latin America, while a native activist warned of an increase in the number of cases of sexual abuse of young indigenous women by foreign soldiers.

A recent agreement between Bogotá and Washington for the U.S. to use seven military bases in Colombia, which has caused concern across Latin America, was ignored in discussions about Colombia’s record on racial discrimination, held this week in Geneva.

At sessions of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the effects of militarisation in Colombia, which has been torn by civil war by nearly half a century, were examined, but the controversial issue of the bases was not raised, said Karmen Ramírez Boscán, a leader of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC).

“This issue is a focus of broad debate at the national level, and of course it should have been dealt with here at this U.N. agency,” said Ramírez Boscán, a Wayuu indigenous woman.

The fact that it was not discussed is because “we all know that a very sensitive situation is developing,” she said.

The agreement between the two countries provides greater access to Colombian territory for the U.S. military, which will operate small stations known as Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) or Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs).

This will create changed circumstances and greater difficulties for Colombian, especially indigenous, women. “I think that, directly or indirectly, this generates violence, and obviously its most immediate effects are on Colombian women,” said Ramírez Boscán.

And of course Obama’s AG Eric Holder made a great deal of money representing Chiquita as they negotiated the derisory penalty for being found guilty of supporting terrorists who killed hundreds of Colombian workers. And the soft approach to the Honduras coup perhaps betrays old imperial ways do not Change.

Posted in Human Rights, Indigenous Rights. Tags: , . Comments Off on It’s Obama’s Back Yard Now
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