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Plan Coca Cola
Colombia has Plan Colombia, Bolivia has Plan Dignity, now Brazil
has Advance Brazil and Mexico has Plan Puebla Panama. Put 'em all
together and you get... PLAN COCA COLA
THE USA IS AN ADDICT. The country is addicted to petrol and
cocaine - and will do anything to get its next fix. But like many
addicts it's in denial, and now the people of Colombia and Bolivia
are part of a plan to ensure that the US never goes without again.
Plan Colombia: Couldn't Give A Fark
Colombia's President Andres Pastrana originally proposed Plan
Colombia as a $7.5 billion development plan to address the country's
related problems of drug trafficking, civil war, and economic underdevelopment.
$4 billion for the Plan was to come from Colombia itself, mainly
through the privatisation of publicly owned utilities. Pastrana
asked other countries and international lending organisations for
the rest, and the US used this chance to create their very own 'plan
Colombia'. So far only Spain has committed $100 million to the Plan,
whilst other European countries have held back because of the $1.3
billion grant the U.S. is giving to the Colombian military. This
money significantly changes Plan Colombia from a regional development
initiative to an aggressive military engagement with what the U.S.
Only 20% of the overall money allocated by the U.S. will be spent
on socio-economic aid. The rest will be spent on advanced military
hardware supplied by major U.S. defence contractors. The original
proposal called for a 55% military aid and a 45% developmental aid
split within the $1.3 billion plan. The final U.S. proposal leant
heavily on the military side. It supplied the newly created counter-narcotic
divisions 30 Black Hawk helicopters, 33 UH-1N helicopters and a
$341 million upgrade to radar facilities. This was the single largest
arms sale to any Latin American country since the Cold war.
Aside from the huge amounts of money being made by its arms companies,
the U.S. has substantial economic interests within Latin America.
By 2010 overall U.S. trade with Latin America is set to surpass
trade with Europe and Japan. Colombia is the U.S.'s seventh largest
oil supplier and has discovered vast oil reserves within its territory.
Venezuela has the largest petroleum reserves outside the Middle
East and is the U.S.'s largest oil supplier. The U.S. has wanted
to decrease its oil reliance on the Middle East and shift its purchasing
to Latin America. Venezuela and Colombia increasingly figure in
this equation. With so much at stake, what was supposed to be a
development project has turned into an excuse for the US to build
up its military presence in the region, and to make money from it.
Plan Colombia is not just a US government initiative. Its being
spurred along by corporations who stand to gain if US influence
in the region increases. Occidental Petroleum, a major oil producer
in Colombia has lobbied Congress intensively for the safe passage
of Plan Colombia (along with major defence contractors). Washington's
interest merges with U.S. corporate interests not only through the
aim to increase access to Colombia's markets, but also in eliminating
the rebels who have consistently bombed oil pipelines and whose
presence destabilises this crucial oil region. The FARC are part
of a complex and newly emerging radical opposition to U.S. interests
within South America. It is Latin America's largest guerrilla movement
with approximately 20,000 combatants who are principally concentrated
in the south of Colombia. A lot of the funding for the group comes
from taxes it imposes on businesses in the territories that they
control. They acknowledge that along with all businesses within
their zones of control, they also tax coca cultivation. Also in
existence, and concentrated in Colombia's north, are well armed
right wing paramilitary groups, the largest of which is the umbrella
organisation, the AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) which
has 5-7,000 combatants. They are responsible for 80% of the 4000
politically motivated murders that happen every year in Colombia.
In northern Colombia coca cultivation is largely industrialised
on large well-organised "coca-estates" run by powerful
landowners and paramilitary gangs. In the South there is a pattern
of small-scale coca cultivation by peasants displaced through the
decades of civil war and unequal landholding. The trafficking networks
are concentrated in the north of Colombia and connected to the paramilitaries
and the countries ruling elite. These networks are responsible for
the international traffic in cocaine and the laundering of the money
this trade produces, and yet the U.S. has completely ignored these
in Plan Colombia.
Current U.S. policy on Colombia will not fund any development programs
in areas not completely under Colombian government control. This
effectively rules out funding for areas in the southern regions
which will be most affected by Plan Colombia, because they are controlled
by the FARC. Most of the 300,000 peasants in the Colombia's southern
region of Putumayo are either directly or indirectly dependent on
the coca trade. If poverty is the root cause of drug cultivation
then it would make sense to put most of the money from Plan Colombia
into developmental programs, crop substitution schemes, and land
reform but the US obviously have other ideas.
Plan Colombia seeks to eliminate the most immediate threat to
U.S. interests - the FARC - but at the same time this gives the
US an excuse to build bases in Colombia as well as countries like
Ecudor and Panama - which under the plan will remain. A permanent
military foothold in the region - they don't give a FARC.
The US has a plan for the whole of Latin America and Plan Colombia
as it turns out is only a part of it. The intervention and influence
of the US in the region has been increasing continually...
Plan Dignity: Bolivians Don't Dig it
In Bolivia it has taken the catchy name Plan Dignidad (Plan
Dignity). Its based on a law passed in 1988 that makes the traditional
cultivation of coca illegal. This is like saying corn in its natural
state is chicha or wheat is whiskey. The law proved to be a total
failure after 10 years: There was no substitute for coca as a crop,
millions of dollars went to corrupt government officials and, nothing
to the farmers. The text of the plan says that the "stigma
of narco-traffic inhibits the free flow of capital and goods to
Bolivia" which means its objective is to create Bolivia as
a safe haven for neo-liberal global investors. 5000 families will
be relocated, from the Chapare region to impose this plan and it
will be supported by the build up of troops to speed the process
At the moment there are 8,000 police and troops stationed there.
The plan is a fight against the peasant population, not against
drugs. Between 1995 and 2000 there have been over 4000 arrests of
men and women and young people, over 2,500 injured, 49 killed. The
people of Chapare and the Yungas are defending the coca leaf and
their land. The government said they could provide three alternative
crops in 1988 but have so far failed to deliver.
Plan Dignidad says "2002:"zero coca en Bolivia".
The peasant families in Bolivia have decided "2002: with our
coca, land and territories." The plant has been traditionally
grown and used in the area for centuries. The plan has not fought
against the drug trade, this has been just used as an excuse to
get money from donor countries. Instead the government has pursued
a plan of forced land reform, militarisation and harassment of the
peasant farmers, in the tropical regions of Bolivia. Growing coca
has become a symbol of protest, a way of trying to hold on to traditional
ways of life and a way of resisting the US led land grab being pursued
under the name of 'dignity'.
Like in Colombia people are organising to resist the plan. Resistance
is mostly organised by peasant federations, by the people most directly
affected by the plan. "We do mobilisations like national blockades.
If they do blockades in the six Federations of the Tropics, nobody
gets past. To get them through the government has to use the armed
forces, police. And in this way, with gas and bullets, they manage
to disperse us." (Silvia Lasarte Flores, the leader of the
Peasant women's federation)
The peoples whose lives and homes are being taken away are offered
no alternatives. Despite the laws being in existence since 1988
nothing has happened in the region to encourage farmers to move
away from growing coca. Plan Dignidad is another way in which the
US is increasing its influence in Latin America, under the pretext
of a 'war on drugs'. Like in Colombia it affects only the poor,
and like in Colombia also people are fighting to preserve their
way of life.
Road Rage: Plan Puebla Panama
Plan Pueblo Panama was proposed by President Vincente Fox of Mexico
in 2001. It was promoted as a way of bringing the neo-liberal "fruits
of globalisation" to the region South and south East of Mexico
city, and extending them to Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Little known outside the region, the mega-project will create an
elaborate infrastructure of railways, ports, highways, roads and
airports. They will connect together the development of the agricultural,
fishing, timber and energy industries. Dams, gold and uranium mines,
platforms for petroleum extraction, and chemical intensive palm
plantations, will be built. Multinational corporations will be licensed
to engage in bio-prospecting and tree felling in an area that holds
10% of the world's bio-diversity.
Central to the plan are tax and legal incentives designed to expand
the maquiladora (assembly plant) concept. This is where manufactured
U.S. goods are assembled in low wage factories and then returned
to the U.S. via new transit corridors. Supported by the World Bank
and the Inter-American Development Fund, PPP would represent a massive
cost saving to U.S and European multinational companies. Both shipping
and freight times to the U.S and Asia will be drastically reduced.
PPP would also create the foundation for the implementation of the
Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. However the project seems
to have been designed for the benefit of the international economic
powers - especially the U.S. It is based on the exploitation of
the Central America's impoverished populations.
There are plans to build 70 hydroelectric dams to power the meta-project.
These will have the devastating effect of diverting the drinking
water of the local populations. In the state of Chiapas in Mexico
alone, 32 dams are planned. They will flood jungles, canyons, rivers,
and archaeological ruins, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
If these projects are realised up to a third of the Peten in Guatemala
could be flooded, along with up to eight hundred archaeological
sites in Peten and Chiapas.
The hydroelectric dams would also help dislocate and disrupt the
indigenous populations of the region; who have a long history of
resistance against government and business exploitation. These displaced
populations would then provide a convenient workforce for the maquiladoras
proposed by the PPP.
In Mexico the plan seems to represent a counter-insurgency strategy
to eliminate and undermine the largely Mayan resistance in the area.
In the Lacondon and Monte Azules areas in Chiapas several zapatista
autonomous municipalities and communities are being immediately
threatened with expulsion. Military and paramilitary presence has
been significantly increased in the area.
Thousands of small projects are planned throughout Central America
under the PPP. Taken as a whole, the plan will deny indigenous inhabitants
the right to control and protect their lands and to decide the future
of their own development. For the indigenous, the PPP represents
a plan to homogenise their cultures and way of life, shifting the
importance from agriculture to manufacturing.
Civil society organisations, and indigenous communities throughout
Mexico and Central America, have repeatedly voiced their resistance
to Plan Puebla Panama. The reasons for this are obvious - it has
been formed for and by the interests of large multinational corporations
and those in government with close ties to investors in the plan.
Representatives of N.G.O.'s, civil society, and indigenous groups,
held regional conferences and demonstrations throughout the last
year in Mexico and Guatemala to address the impacts of PPP. Through
these meetings they hope to address the effects of the project on
local communities, to create alternative plans for economic development,
and plan strategies for a unified campaign that transcends borders.
In the short term they aim to use legal instruments, create educational
documents, and improve communication networks. The long-term goal
is to develop and maintain strategies to defend land and resources;
as well as educate local communities.
Resistance is a daily struggle for many indigenous communities
in Mexico. They live with the threat of impending expulsion. Many
have witnessed the growing military and paramilitary presence. A
communiqué from Ricardo Flores Magon zapatista autonomous
municipality in rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico on the 25th
March 2002 testifies to this:
"Today we are saying it quite clearly, the project to exterminate
our indigenous communities through dislocation and relocation is
a strategic part of the Plan Puebla Panama and of its economic interests,
which are attempting to extend neo-liberal policies and projects
to the south and south- east of Mexico and all Central America.
The PPP is also a counter-insurgency plan, because neo-liberal interests
find themselves thwarted by our indigenous communities and our different
cultures which understand land as mother, as a communal good that
cannot be used for the benefit of just a few, because it cannot
be destroyed or stolen in order to be made private and in order
to take its wealth..We are not going to permit the dislocation nor
the relocation of our communities, we are going to defend them with
everything we have in our hands, in our truth, rights, and reason.
We are going to defend our lands and communities as the territories
and rights of our indigenous people."
Chiapas indymedia - http//chiapas.indymedia.org
Global exchange - www.globalexchange.org
Plan exploitation: Advance Brazil
Heavily under the influence of both home grown and foreign fat-cats,
the Brazilian government thinks it's a good idea to blow $45 billion
on an Amazon development plan dubbed 'Advance Brazil'. After the
dismal failure of the Trans-Amazonian Highway (TAH) in the 1970s
many Brazilians don't have much faith in this new development drive.
Soon after its construction the sediments of the Amazon Basin made
the highway unstable and it often flooded during heavy rains, blocking
traffic and leaving crops to rot. Harvest yields for peasants were
dismal since the forest soils were quickly exhausted, and virgin
forest had to be cleared annually. Logging was difficult because
commercially valuable trees didn't grow together in the same place
and erosion from wind and rain ruined the land after clearing. Many
colonists, unfamiliar with banking and lured by easy credit, went
deep into debt. Instead of boosting the economy the TAH got Brazil
into financial strife. So why would Advance Brazil be any different?
The simple answer is it won't.
With various financial commitments to the IMF, the World Bank and
the Inter-American Development Bank as well as trade agreements
with other countries and global corporations, the Brazilian government's
hands are variously tied. They are also under pressure from Brazil's
business elite and influential landowners that aspire to the heavily
advertised capitalist dream of wealthier nations. In comparison
to the heavily industrially and economically developed Western European
countries, Brazil is poor. Over 6.5 million families are without
accommodation and 10 million lack the necessities to meet basic
living standards. For these reasons Brazil's Government says that
Advance Brazil is the way forward and the Amazon must be exploited.
Various Advance Brazil schemes are already on the go, including
the building of new roads, dams, railroads, waterways, ranches,
oil pipelines and mineral extraction works, but opposition is also
In 1950, tropical rainforests covered 14% of the earth's land surface
- now they only cover 6%. Nearly 40 percent of what's left is in
the Brazilian Amazon.
According to a US-Brazilian study Advance Brazil is set to destroy
about 42% of the rainforest by the year 2020. This will mean the
loss of countless animals, trees, plants, insects, birds, reptiles,
amphibians and fish because over half the world's 10 million species
live there. Deforestation will also affect both local and global
water cycles because one-fifth of the world's fresh water circulates
in the Amazon Basin. Advance Brazil projects will also impact upon
medicinal research - already much of the active ingredients in today's
cancer-fighting drugs come from organisms found only in the rainforest,
and there's many more that western medicine is yet to use.
"Illegal logging and land-clearing are rampant. New roads
that cut into the frontier almost always initiate a process of spontaneous
colonisation, logging, hunting and land speculation that is almost
impossible to stop" - William Laurance, Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute, USA.
In order to 'colonise' land, large numbers of people from city
slums have been given cash incentives to move - the word used is
'transmigrate' - to rainforest locations for a cash incentive, but
often the settlers are unable to farm their land, and they are forced
into wage slavery for big agricultural developments or mineral extraction
works. "Slave labour in Brazil is directly linked to deforestation,"
says Cláudio Secchin, director of the Ministry of Labour's
special antislavery Mobile Enforcement Team. The large companies
exploit the surplus of labour, to the point that several workers
who have fought for rights have been killed. "I can't read
so maybe a half-dozen times I was ordered to burn the identity cards
and work documents of workers who I had last seen walking down the
road, supposedly on their way out. We also found heaps of bones
out in the jungle, but none of us ever talked about it" said
one worker on the Brazilian Indymedia website.
"Dams have already displaced more than one million Brazilians
from their lands, and if there is no resistance, another 800,000
people will be expelled with the construction of 494 new dams in
the next 10 years." - Movement of Dam affected People (MAB).
The Brazilian government is still trying to rustle-up investment,
ignoring the comments of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) that
"in many cases dams have led to an irreversible loss of species
populations and ecosystems." The WCD also highlighted the fact
that, "Impacts of dam building on people and livelihoods -
both above and below dams - have been . devastating." Often
led by MAB, opposition to dam building has been growing. In March
9 anti-dam protestors were hospitalised in Sao Paulo after clashes
with the police in Rio Grande do Sul State. The demonstrators were
part of a national campaign of protests against Brazil's hydropower
energy policy and marked the fifth International Day of Action Against
Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life. 500 people marched to the site
of the Inter-American Development Bank's annual meeting in Fortaleza
in northeast Brazil because the bank plans to finance many new dams.
A spokesperson for the International Rivers Network said, "These
dams would flood over 10,000 sq km of the Amazon rainforest, affecting
indigenous communities and endangered species." Brazils history
of dam building has been about as successful as its Trans- Amazonian
highway, with over 2,000 Dams left to crumble unused in the last
The largest opposition to Advance Brazil is Moviemento dos Trabalhadores
Rurais Sem Terra (MST). The MST is a landless workers movement that
organises mass land squats and actions to oppose the unequal distribution
of land in Brazil and fights for workers rights. On 17th April 1996,
Brazilian military police killed 19 landless workers in Eldorado,
Carajas in the state of Para. 600 families connected to MST had
occupied the highway to protest about delays in land reforms. The
military police sent in to 'open up' the highway blocked it with
troops instead and then opened up their weapons on the crowd. 19
workers were shot dead, 13 at point-blank range, and hundreds were
left wounded. Oziel, an 18 year old MST organiser was grabbed by
military police and tortured in front of everyone before being beaten
to death. Seven years passed and finally in May this year Colonel
Mario Colares Pantoja and Major Jos Maria Olivera (the Commandant
of the troops responsible for the massacre) were sentenced to 158
Years imprisonment. And on the 18th May, 600 landless people connected
to MST squatted a farm belonging to President Cardoso's family in
Buritis, Minas Gerais. They occupied the farm to pressure the federal
government to settle 200 families and to support other settlements
in Minas and Goiao. The government brokered a deal with MST, publicly
called the activists 'terrorists' and had 16 organisers from MST
arrested during a so-called inspection of the farm for damage. The
government has shown that they are incapable of protecting the human
rights of indigenous people. The MST on the other hand has become
famous for its actions and has received several Human Rights awards.
It has also created 60 food co-operatives as well as setting up
a large-scale literacy program. (www.mstbrazil.org)
The 6th March represented a small victory for environmentalists
when Brazil's Agrarian Reform Institute cancelled thousands of false
and undocumented land ownership claims following a parliamentary
investigation of squatters on Amazon public lands last spring. Roughly
half of the reclaimed lands have been proposed as areas of strict
protection such as national parks and ecological reserves. The other
reclaimed areas will be protected as 'extraction' reserves and national
forests, which means that the government can authorise the 'use'
of the land, wood and minerals to anyone they reckon is committed
to 'sustainable development'. The problem is, there's nothing 'sustainable'
about developments which destroy the Amazon, flood tribal land and
exploit the people.