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U.S. Special Forces Arrive in Colombia

Jorge Cortez | 20.01.2003 08:24

BOGOTA, Colombia - U.S. Green Berets flew in to a Colombian war zone this week to train Colombian army troops to protect a key U.S. oil pipeline from Marxist rebel attacks, a U.S. official said Thursday.

U.S. Special Forces Arrive in Colombia
Thu Jan 16

By Jorge Cortez, Bolivarian Press

The arrival of the members of the 7th Special Forces Group marks a turning point in U.S. involvement in Colombia's civil war. Previously, U.S. military aid and training was kept at low profile from the public spotlight, but with the Bush administration and approval from Congress U.S. military assistance will expand into helping the Colombian military, right wing paramilitary special forces and police combat the rebels.

About 60 U.S. trainers began arriving earlier this week, joining about 10 others already stationed in Arauca state on Colombia's eastern border with Venezuela, according to a U.S. official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

On Thursday, about 20 U.S. troops drove up to Arauca airport in jeeps, then unloaded equipment, including military vehicles, from an arriving plane, according to a reliable witness who insisted on anonymity.

Numerous shipments of equipment and supplies are expected over the next few weeks, the U.S. official said. The troops — who are settling in to military barracks on Colombian army bases throughout Arauca state — are expected to begin training at the end of the month, he said.

The Marxist-Leninist politico-military organizations the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) who enjoy a mass base of support in the trade union movement and peasantry are battling a corrupt right wing authoritarian regime for the establishment of a socialist state.

The members of U.S. troops, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., are to train two Colombian army brigades that protect an oil pipeline that carries oil for Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum across northern Colombia to a seaside depot.

In a narco-culture economy where human rights groups say is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists and trade unionists to be, U.S. special forces have already trained a 2,000-member Colombian army counterinsurgency brigade as part of almost US$2 billion in military aid the United States has given Colombia over the past three years under the aegis of "counternarcotics".

Jorge Cortez