Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Someone Asked Me About Colombia, 1999

So a friend wrote and asked what might have been happening in Colombia that would have sent a person involved with the U.S. military down there in 1999 on 20 different occasions. I scratched my head. I had my bar in Iquitos there then, remember, and a lot of what the U.S. military was doing in Colombia included nearby Peru. So this is what I wrote as possible explanation for a U.S. government agent of some sort being sent to Colombia 20 times in 1999.
Dear X: Plan Colombia, the suspected-drug-plane-shootdown-program, the imminent election of Uribe to the Colombian presidency that we were arranging for at the time (elected, I believe, in 2002). So lots of things. We also had sent down Green Berets to guard pipelines for private companies in Colombia at about that time. 

    If you recall, that was the same time that the U.S. kept five houses for Special Forces and one for the DEA in Iquitos. Very very high visibility in the region. 
    Now that I'm thinking of it, it was about that time that we were training two battalions of Colombian jungle forces with our Jungle Special Forces. Those battalions were going to use a pincer movement to force the FARC rebels from their "military free zone" once that zone was eliminated in the early 2000s. They were going to be forced to the Putumayo river, where that team of former Navy Seals that came into my bar and told me what they were hired to do--they were going to slaughter any and all people trying to cross the Putumayo looking for safety in Peru as a result of that pincer movement. Yours truly stopped that one in its tracks in 2002, I believe, and that's when my CIA friend was given the job of eliminating me. He spent two weeks at Langley explaining that if idiots got drunk in my bar and--knowing I was a journalist--told me what they were going to do, it was my obligation to print it. First Amendment and such. Fortunately, he talked them out of the kill and that's why I can tell the story today.
    So, very active time in Colombia and region--the first major effort to secure Colombian oil which was about to explode on the market in a big way. Setbacks, like a failed Plan Colombia, have held it in abeyance, but it's still a gold ring and we still plan to get it.

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