A post a little while ago discussed the nature of imperialism in the Horn of Africa, and its reliance on “outsourcing” operations to elite unites and local partners. Another area where this dynamic emerges is US-Colombia relations. Colombia has long been a key ally of the US, and has evolved in recent years to be a major plank of global US hegemony.
This article from InSight Crime does an excellent job of analyzing and critiquing the role of Colombia in the US imperial system. One of its primary roles is to leverage its experience in successfully fighting a brutal dirty war against FARC, by helping train security forces across the world.
Since 2007, and more intensively since 2011, the United States has paid for Colombian security forces to train military and police in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru — and even West Africa— in counternarcotics tactics.
According to documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the United States supported the country’s training of 6,526 police and soldiers from 10 Western Hemisphere countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama in 2014, more than five times the number trained in 2013. In 2015, the Colombian defense ministry reports that this program expanded to several Caribbean countries.
As InSight Crime points out, the global spread of Colombian security/military practices is deeply troubling considering the level of brutality and corruption they exhibit within Colombia–most clearly seen in the false positives scandal, where the Colombian military executed thousands of innocent civilians and dressed them up like left-wing guerrillas. But either way, the US appears unconcerned (which is unsurprisingly considering that many of Colombia’s dirty-war tactics were originally imported from the US Department of Defense’s School of the Americas):
In 2013, the United States supported 39 training events. In 2014, that number jumped to 152, and in 2015 it is planned to reach 205. Since 2013, the number of soldiers who received training from Colombia’s military with US-support has increased 720 percent. Defense Department documents show support for 179 trainees in 2013, 696 in 2014 and estimate some 1,470 will be trained in 2015. This year Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador will be the top recipients.
Another emerging phenomena is the use of Colombian mercenaries. Hundreds of Colombians, along with mercenaries from several other Latin American countries, are reportedly fighting for the United Arab Emirates in the ongoing war in Yemen. Most of these are drawn from elite segments of the Colombian military, lured into the private military industry by drastically higher wages (courtesy of the oil wealth of the Gulf monarchies).
“Mercenaries are an attractive option for rich countries who wish to wage war yet whose citizens may not want to fight,” said Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of “The Modern Mercenary.” “
The private military industry is global now,” said Mr. McFate, adding that the United States essentially “legitimized” the industry with its heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan over more than a decade of war. “Latin American mercenaries are a sign of what’s to come,” he said.