Colombia’s Gringo Invasion

The US military boasts that its Army Special Forces or “Green Berets” are “the most versatile special operations soldiers in the world.” [1] While serving under the Department of Defense (DoD), members of these units, trained in unconventional warfare, psychological operations, and other skills, sometimes work on temporary “attachment” to the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.[2] Under CIA auspices, Green Beret advisers have been involved in both covert actions (never to be attributed to the US) such as Operation Phoenix, which set up death squads in Vietnam in the 1960s, and clandestine operations (secret only during their execution) such as the training of El Salvador’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in the 1980s.[3]

In the 1990s, Green Berets and other US advisers have been deeply involved in Colombia, even though it has the worst ongoing human rights record in Latin America.[4] Last year, at least 231 US military and intelligence advisers were sent there, according to the DoD’s official deployment schedules.[5] These include two teams with 52 US Green Beret advisers each to train the Colombian Army in “junior leadership” combat skills. That official count is only three fewer than the congressionally-imposed limit (often violated[6]) on the number of in-country US advisers deployed in El Salvador during the peak of its war. Even more Green Beret advisers have trained Colombian Army Special Forces units outside Colombia at US bases in Panama.[7] According to US officials involved, this particular training has taken place under the auspices of the CIA as part of a “Top Secret” counter-drug program.[8]

Since 1989, all US military training, advice, arms and services to Colombia have been officially earmarked for the drug war. While most coca leaf is grown in surrounding Andean countries, Colombia refines and exports about 80 percent of the world’s processed cocaine.[9] US anti-drug policy, by prioritizing law enforcement over prevention and treatment measures, puts considerable pressure on countries such as Colombia. All of Washington’s $169 million annual aid to that country is earmarked to counter drugs. Some has actually been used for this purpose. A Bogota-based CIA team, for example, was instrumental in the 1995 arrests of the top leaders of the Cali cartel. But most US aid has been diverted to Bogota’s counterinsurgency war against leftist guerrillas. Since the 1960s, the Colombian military, with US backing, has been fighting the formerly pro-Moscow Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the pro-Cuba National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as other groups. In recent years, the conflict has heated up, with Amnesty International reporting more than 20,000 dead since 1986.[10] While all sides have committed abuses, the military and allied (though illegal) rightist paramilitary groups are guilty of the vast majority.[11]

Spooks Bearing Gifts

Human rights monitors have long accused Washington of complicity in these crimes. Now they have proof. Last October, Amnesty International released internal US military documents showing that the US had provided arms to 13 of 14 Colombian army units that Amnesty had cited for abuses.[12] In November, Human Rights Watch released US and Colombian military documents, along with oral testimony, showing that in 1991, both the CIA and DoD advised Colombia before its Defense Ministry established 41 clandestine intelligence networks. According to a classified (reservado) ministry order creating the program, the networks’ only function was to target “the armed subversion,” i.e., leftist guerrillas and their suspected supporters. Four former members of one network, based in the river port town of Barrancabermeja, testified that it incorporated illegal paramilitary groups and was responsible for killing hundreds of civilians.[13]

The CIA was directly involved in helping design and fund the intelligence networks, according to retired US Army Col. James S. Roach, Jr., then military attaché and Defense (Department) Intelligence Agency liaison in Bogota. “The CIA set up the clandestine nets on their own,” Roach says. “They had a lot of money. It was kind of like Santa Claus had arrived.” CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield declined to comment.[14]

These CIA-promoted intelligence networks enabled the Colombian military and illegal paramilitaries to expand the pattern of secret collaboration which began in the early 1980s. According to Javier Giraldo, a Jesuit priest and founder of Colombia’s Inter-Congregational Commission for Justice and Peace:

A vast network of armed civilians began to replace, at least in part, soldiers and policemen who could be easily identified. They also started to employ methods that had been carefully designed to ensure secrecy and generate confusion. Because of this, witnesses and victims of crimes are unsure of the exact identity of the individual(s) responsible for committing them. This problem with identifying the perpetrators is often insurmountable.

At the same time, members of the army and police began to conceal their identities, frequently wearing civilian clothes and hoods, to drive unmarked cars and to take their victims to clandestine torture centers, all in order to forego legal formalities in arrest. What has frequently followed these abductions is intimidation or torture, enforced disappearances and murder.[15]

SOA’s Traditional Values

While DoD officials continue to deny complicity in human rights violations, the close ties between US intelligence and defense agencies and their Colombian counterparts are well documented. Last year, for example, the US Navy deployed 97 operations and intelligence advisers in-country. There they helped plan strategy with the Colombian Navy command and provided tactical advice to units based out of ports including Barrancabermeja.[16] Meanwhile, US Green Berets train the Colombian army in Cimitarra, a town that even Colombian police reports identify as a center of illegal paramilitary operations.[17] Other US officials work closely with Colombia top commanders. The US Military Advisory Group’s office is inside the Colombian Armed Forces command compound, conveniently down the hall from the offices of the Colombian army commander.

As is the case throughout much of Latin America, many key human rights violators have received US training. Commander Gen. Manuel Jose Bonett Locarno is one of hundreds of Colombian officers who have graduated from the US School of the Americas (SOA).[18] He was later implicated in torturing and murdering trade unionists, community leaders, and human rights monitors. Bonett, who denies responsibility for these or any other crimes, reports to Gen. Harold Bedoya Pizarro, Colombia’s Armed Forces commander, who studied military intelligence at the SOA in 1965 and was invited back to teach it as a guest professor in 1978 and 1979. A coalition of European human rights groups and others have accused him of running death squads comprised of joint military and paramilitary forces. More recently, Bedoya has mapped out “intelligence planning regarding the country’s internal political situation” through El Diario de Bedoya, a classified analysis with general orders from Bedoya himself, regularly sent to all divisions and brigade commanders.[19]

While Bedoya acknowledges that he has identified suspects for army surveillance, both he and Bonett deny that these targets include such legal entities as community leaders, non-governmental organizations, or political parties and their elected officials. But a July 1995 “reservado” division-wide order signed by Bonett instructs army intelligence networks to conduct “permanent surveillance of the municipal governments and the ways in which they are managing their funds.”[20] Another classified Colombian army document from March 1995 claims that the guerrillas have infiltrated an estimated 800 locally-elected municipal governments nationwide and an unknown number of non-governmental organizations, “especially leftist ones … in Colombia, the United States, Canada, Europe.” This activity has led the groups, the document goes on, to adopt positions favoring “the overcoming of impunity,” “the vigilant and effective monitoring of human rights,” and “the construction of a peace process.”[21]

Within Colombia’s tense climate, simply identifying an organization or individual as “leftist” is tantamount to authorizing anything from surveillance to murder, and indeed, many Colombians so labeled have disappeared or been killed. Take the rural town of Aguachica in the northern Magdalena Valley, where the army’s ability to process intelligence is made more efficient with computers. One classified printout, “Latest Information on the Enemy,” was prepared by army Task Force No. 27 Pantera (Panther). It names dozens of alleged subversives, including leaders of the local Community Action Movement (CAM), a legal group which this printout identifies as a “political branch” of the guerrillas. Their crime? Community leaders “led a meeting of peasants where they espoused their political objectives and how they plan to achieve them as a movement.”[22]

Among CAM’s popular leaders were “Libardo Galvis, a.k.a. Lalo” and his brothers, Jesus Emilio and Luis Tiberio. On September 24,1995, two months after the army printout, Jesus and Luis were abducted by armed men, “some wearing civilian clothes and others wearing army uniforms with the insignias of the Counter-guerrilla Unit Task Force No. 27.” Witnesses quoted by the human rights group, MINGA, later said: “The brothers were brutally tortured. They burned the fingers of their hands, and then decapitated them.” The same armed men then walked to a nearby village and killed a local police inspector, Emelda Ruiz, who had been investigating death squad crimes. According to witnesses: “The perpetrators announced that they would be back for other people whose names they had on their lists.”[23]

There is also good documentation of abuses by the Colombian Navy, which has also been armed, trained, and advised by the United States. The US helped design its Riverine units to patrol rivers in search of trafficking boats. One of the ports the Riverines are based in is Barrancabermeja, also the site of one of the 41 intelligence networks promoted by the CIA. Four ex-agents of this network have testified about it. In a pattern used around the country, naval intelligence wanted to keep the network covert, so it incorporated retired military officers and other civilians to both gather intelligence and execute operations. One such clandestine operative was ex-naval Sgt. Saulo Segura. He reported to Capt. Juan Carlos Alvarez, the network chief who served under Lt. Col. Rodrigo Quinonez, then the Navy’s top intelligence commander.[24] Together these men identified targets for surveillance and decided which ones to hit.

One ex-agent testified:

[Lt.] Col. Rodrigo Quinonez was told everything about the [surveillance] operations. And according to what was discovered, he would speak with Capt. Juan Carlos Alvarez, alias El Ingeniero [“The Engineer”], giving the green light if the operation was OK or not, in other words, to kill people or not. After that, Capt. Juan Carlos Alvarez would communicate directly with [our team leaders], who told us what to do. If it was by phone, they used the following codes: “There are some broken motors. I need you to repair them. They are in such and such a place.” And they would give the address. “Take good mechanics and good tools.” Mechanics meant sicarios [hired assassins], good tools meant good arms, and the motors meant the victims.[25]

According to the testimony of four ex-agents, early victims included the president, vice-president, and treasurer of the local transportation workers union; two leaders of the local oil workers union (another one of its leaders was killed last October); one leader of a local peasant workers’ union; and two human rights monitors.[26]

These murders and others drew the interest of Ismael Jaimes, editor of La Opinion, Barrancabermeja’s leading independent newspaper. After investigating for several months, he began writing columns alleging that the military was behind these crimes. Finally Jaimes was targeted too. One witness said: “After following him for several months, they established that he went every morning to drop off his son at school in the Torcoroma neighborhood, where he was killed one moming.”[27]

Soon the network attracted even more attention as many of its sicarios were also accused of robberies and other common crimes. To protect itself from exposure, the Navy began killing off operatives. On June 1, 1992, after four network sicarios were apprehended by a regular army unit over an authorized murder, military intelligence officers disappeared all four, according to a document signed by the regular unit’s commanders.[28] Later, several more network personnel were killed. Unidentified gunmen eventually tried to kill Segura, wounding him twice. [29]

This turned Segura against the Navy, and he joined three of his former colleagues who testified against their superiors. But instead of prosecuting the officers named by these ex-agents, the Colombian government charged and imprisoned Segura. Last year inside La Modelo, Bogota’s maximum security jail, he glanced about nervously before saying, “I hope they don’t kill me.” Two months later, on Christmas Eve, Segura was murdered inside his cellblock with a handgun left next to his corpse. His murder remains unsolved; the whereabouts of the other three witnesses remain unknown. Nonetheless, they provided solid and overlapping details about the murders of 57 specific political opponents and activists. Yet not one case has gone to Court.[30]

American Hand

The US bears complicity in Colombia’s human rights record, having armed, trained and advised most of the military units and commands directly implicated in the killing. Still, the Clinton administration is now increasing aid to the Colombian military. This year, the US is sending a record $169 million in arms. They include 12 Blackhawk helicopter gunships, even though Amnesty International has already shown how US weapons have been diverted to the Colombian military’s dirty counterinsurgency war. Nonetheless, US officials insist that this time, the weapons will be used to fight drugs. “[W]e are very clear that the military assistance that we provide to Colombia must be used for the purposes intended, counter-narcotics,” said Nicholas Burns, The State Department spokesman.[31] But human rights groups no longer believe it. Recent revelations by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “confirm what we expected,” says Charles Roberts of the Washington, DC-based Colombia Human Rights Committee. ” While trying to avoid the appearance of complicity in human rights violations, the United States has continued to provide training and materiel to the Colombian military irrespective of its horrendous abuses.”[32]

1. US Special Operations Forces Posture Statement, (Washington, D.C.: US Defense Department, 1994), p. 10
2. Interviews with senior Department of Defense (DoD) officials, Dec. 1995.
3. Douglas Valentine, Phoenix Program (New York: William Morrow, 1990); and Frank Smyth, “Secret Warriors: U.S. Advisors Have Taken Up Arms in El Salvador,” The Village Voice, Aug. 11, 1987. The US role in training these patrols first came out in testimony by Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings. One of the CIA operatives involved, Felix Rodriguez, a.k.a. Max Gomez, also participated in the 1967 Bolivian operation, which resulted in the capture and summary execution of Che Guevara.
4. See, among others, Amnesty lnternational, Political Violence in Colombia: Myth and Reality (London: Al Publications, 1994); Javier Giraldo, S.J, Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1996).
5. “List of FY96 Deployments for USMILGP [US Military Advisory Group] Colombia. This document first appeared in Appendix 3 of Human Rights Watch, Colombia’s Killer Networks: The Military/Paramilitary Partnership and the United States, Washington, D.C., 1996)
6. Interview with Anne Manuel, deputy director, Human Rights Watch/Americas, Feb. 1997.
7. Human Rights Watch. op. cit., p. 91.
8. Interviews with senior DoD officials, Dec. 1995.
9. See “The Cali Cartel: New Kings of Cocaine,” US Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Intelligence Report, Nov. 1994; and The National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee Report 1993: The Supply of Illicit Drugs to the United States, Aug. 1994, pp. 2-6.
10. Amnesty International, op. cit., p. 1.
11. Ibid., pp. 67-74.
12. See, among others, Reuters, “Amnesty calls for halt in U.S. aid to Colombia,” Oct. 29, 1996.
13. Human Rights Watch, op. cit., pp. 27-41.
14. Telephone interview, March 1996.
15. Giraldo, op. cit., p. 22.
16. List of FY96 Deployments, op. cit.
17. “Human Rights Watch,” op, cit., p. 91.
18. Out of the one list of 247 Colombian military officers implicated in specific human rights cases, 124 of them have received training at the US School of the Americas. Another seven Colombians, including Bedoya, have been invited to teach there. This Alumni list was prepared by Fred Gaona and is on file at the Washington Office on Latin America. Profiles of both the known abusers and the evidence against them was compiled by a coalition of European human rights groups in El Terrorismo de Estado en Colombia (Brussels), Ediciones NCOS, 1992, pp. 71-72.
19. Authors’ notes on document, Oct. 1996.
20. “Asunto: Examinacion de la Estrategia Divisionaria, Reservado,” signed by Maj. Gen. Manuel Jose Bonett Locarno, when he was the Colombian Army Second Division commander, July 24,1995.
21. “Asunto Apreciacion Coyuntural Situacion Nacional,” signed by Lt. Col. Jose Domingo Garcia Garcia, second commander and chief of staff of the Colombian Army Fifth Brigade, March 2, 1995.
22. Fuerza de Tarea No. 27 “Pantera, Ultimas Informaciones del Enemigo,” April 8-July 11, 1995.
23. MINGA Urgent Action, “Political Genocide Continues in Aguachica, Cesar,” Sept. 25, 1995.
24. Interview with Saulo Segura Palacios, La Modelo prison, Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 18, 1995.
25. Testimony of Carlos Alberto Vergara Amaya to the Colombian attorney general, Feb. 11, 1994.
26. Letter from Carlos David Lopez to the Colombian attorney general, Dec. 7, 1993; Letter from Saulol Segura Palacios to the Colombian attorney general, Dec. 7, 1993; Testimony of Carlos Alberto Vergara Amaya to the Colombian attorney general, Feb. 11, 1994; and Letter from Felipe Gomez to the Colombian attorney general, Nov. 29, 1994.
27. Letter from Carlos David Lopez, Dec. 7, 1993
28. “Asunto: Informe desaparicion personas,” signed by Colombian Army Gen. Marino Gutierrez Isaza, June 2, 1992, as quoted in Human Rights Watch, op. cit.
29. Interview with Segura, op. cit.
30. See Human Rights Watch, op. cit.; and Charles Roberts, “Rule of Law and Development: U.S. AID and the Public Courts of Colombia,” Georgetown University Law Center manuscript, Spring 1995.
31. Transcript of State Department briefing, Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 1996.
32. Interview, Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 1997.”

Green Berets in El Salvador

By 1987 “our guys simply stopped reporting…up through the chain [because] they were reporting things they felt were absolute violations, and were absolutely wrong, and they were not seeing any action taken. …It was up to the State Department to arrest those people or to investigate those at fault… .You couldn’t go up to people and say ’40 persons got themselves whacked over here because they were thinking of forming a workers’ union. And the landowner is not into that at all, so he asked his buddy the Colonel to send a squad over and take care of the problem. ‘ [If] you did that, it was real easy to find yourself on the receiving end of a grenade, or a bomb, or a rifle bullet. So…our guys…reported the information and then just saw it disappear into that great void.”

An ex-adviser in El Salvador says senior U.S. officials covered up the combat role of U.S. advisers and hid a pattern of human rights violations by the Salvadoran army.

Greg Walker was a U.S. military adviser in El Salvador, and he is not happy with the people who assigned him there. Walker is the director of Veterans of Special Operations, which, he says, represents an estimated 4,500 U.S. advisers, pilots, medics, and other personnel who served in El Salvador during the 12-year war. But, according to Walker, since the Pentagon denies that U.S. military personnel in El Salvador served in a combat situation, it refuses to give them proper compensation or recognition. That refusal means lower pay, no combat military decorations such as the Purple Heart, and less chance of promotion. Walker, a Green Beret who volunteered for El Salvador, says that’s not fair.

Fairness is a different kind of question for those Salvadorans who survived the 75,000 killings and the consistent pattern of human rights abuses that marked the U.S.-sponsored war. What bothers Walker, however, is that although this spring’s U.N. Truth Commission Report on El Salvador laid the blame for the majority of these human rights crime on U.S.-backed Salvadoran Armed Forces, U.S. personnel are being tarred with the same brush. Walker served as a Green Beret Army Special Forces adviser in El Salvador from 1982 to 1985 when the Salvadoran military, after substantial U.S. training, committed some of the worse violations.

Walker maintains that although he and other U.S. advisers secretly took part in combat, they regularly reported extra-judicial killings and other crimes to the U.S. Embassy and their military superiors. Those senior officials there and in Washington routinely covered them up.

President Clinton has ordered the CIA, Pentagon, and the State Department to pursue an “expedited review” of all documents relevant to 32 specific violations in El Salvador in response to the U.N. report.

Frank Smyth: What was your mandate while you were in El Salvador? What exactly were you doing?
Greg Walker: Well, the mandate of the entire military assistance program, if there was a single mandate, was to reorganize, restructure, and reform the Salvadoran army.

FS: Were there any restrictions placed upon you and other personnel about what it was you were and were not allowed to do in terms of participating in combat or going into the field?
GW: Well, the restrictions and the limitations essentially were placed upon us by the United States military through Congress. For example, where did the 55 advisers limit come from? That limitation did not come from Congress. That limitation came from the military itself when they sent a colonel to the country in the very early ‘80s to reassess what was going to be necessary to upgrade the military and to keep America’s involvement to a minimum.

FS: You mean Fred Woerner?
GW: Fred Woerner, Joe Stringham, any number of officers went down there. …Beginning in 1983, there were always no more than 55 U.S. military special operations advisers, as per the mandate in-country. But, at the same time, especially with the Army Special Forces advisers, we are trained in a multitude of different military skills such as communicators, medics, etc. So you saw a lot more highly trained, highly skilled special operations advisers in El Salvador because they were slotted into those MILGROUP staff slots. …So, probably at any one time, we had as many as 300 conventional and soft advisers working in-country at any one time, carrying out mobile training teams. Quite a bit more than when you were given the big 55 number. But you just have to understand the mechanics; it was no secret, it was just that people simply did not explore and know the right questions to ask.

FS: What about military limitations?
GW: The limitations that were placed upon the military adviser in the very early stages were that they would not carry long guns or assault rifles or things like that, and were restricted to essentially carrying only a sidearm, which at the time was either a .45 or a 9mm pistol. It was typical of the State Department policy process that if we didn’t look like we were in a war, then the other side would take it that we weren’t really there to be a in war.

…In 1982, when I first went into the country, we were provided with long guns, or assault rifles, by Salvadoran commanders who refused to be responsible for our safety out in the “training areas” or in the field, or going between the cuartel [military base] to the capital, [or] any kind of transportation or movement whatsoever. Simply because they knew what the reality of the war was for both themselves and for us out there. At that time I was working out of Sonsonate, and we were pulled out because of the Las Hojas massacre, and moved over to the Caballo Rio where the cavalry was down the street of Atlacatl [Battalion]. Certainly in 1983, when [Lt. Cmdr. Al] Schaufelberger was killed, we were at that time given permission through the MILGROUP commander by the State Department, the Embassy, whoever you want to cal it, to be fully armed.

Now [New York Times correspondent] Lydia Chávez, are you familiar with her? Lydia was probably one of the most gutsball reporters I have ever met down there, and the morning after Schaufelberger was killed, Lydia ran into myself and the Special Forces captain over at Estado Mayor [military headquarters]. We had two visiting military dignitaries with us, we were armed with an M-16 shotgun and submachine guns, and Lydia to her great credit, asked the question as she was staring at us in our vehicles. “What happened last night? Are you guys armed any differently?”

Well, we had managed to stuff everything that was short and ugly under the seat because we saw Lydia was coming. Lydia had a good reputation for ferreting things out like that, but one individual who should have known better, but didn’t, left his M-16 fully exposed on the back seat with a magazine in it. And being good Special Forces troopers, we immediately lied to the media and said, “No, although they just killed the director of security for the entire embassy, there’s no difference at all in our armed attitude.” And Lydia, with her photographer there, clearly saw that rifle and simply told us, “You guys take care of yourselves” and did not take pictures, which she said she could have, and did not report that. But we were dully armed immediately after Schaufelberger was killed.

As far as contact, in 1984, during the elections, we were under continuous fire from the FMLN because we were manning reporting sites all over the country in all the nice places like El Paraíso and Usultán. I was in Usultán then, and we took fire in the cuartel every other night. In ’84, you have to understand that the military base at Palmerola in Honduras served as an aviation launch platform for U.S. Air Force aircraft to include AC-130 gunships which flew rescue missions for us specifically, so that if we got hit in the cuartels or had to get out of the cuartels and go into an escape and evasion mode and had to get picked up either by rotary aircraft or be covered by AC-130s.

FS: Did the officers or military personnel involved get combat credit for these actions, but it was not made public? Is that correct?
GW: No, they don’t get credit if it’s not acknowledged that it’s combat. At the same time, we have advisers in El Salvador who were being paid hostile fire pay as early as 1981.

FS: Where did people come under fire in El Salvador, inside of cuartels or in the field?
GW: U.S. advisers down there came under fire most in the cuartels. As a matter of fact, some of the major battles that U.S. advisers were involved with took place in cuartels, but we came under fire in the field as well, and quite obviously came under fire in the urban areas, as Schaufelberger’s experience dictates. The thing that is forgotten here, thanks in part to the lack of coverage by the American media, is that El Salvador is a country that was taking part in a guerilla war, and anybody who studies anything about guerilla warfare knows that there are no safe havens. So we were subject to fire at any time, any place.

For example, where do you train people to do fire and maneuver things? Where do you train people how to patrol? Where do you train people how to use anti-tank weapons, anti-bunker weapons and things like that? In a place like El Salvador, you have to train them outside of the cuartel area, which means you have to go to the field, and you have to specifically find areas if at all possible where there are no or minimal inhabitants, which is difficult because it’s so intensely populated. Well, in other words, you’re out exactly where the guerillas are and they have a tendency to really kind of get a little P.O.’d when their property is invaded by folks like us.

FS: Were all these contact with the enemy outside cuartels reported to MILGROUP commanders in San Salvador?
GW: In every incident, to my knowledge, there was a very strict reporting system and it went up the chain of command up to the U.S. MILGROUP.

FS: When I was in El Salvador, the American Embassy only admitted, as late as right before the offensive in 1989, that only on three occasions had U.S. military advisers come under fire.
GW: There is a big difference in what the U.S. military advisers, who were conventional Army, Air Force, Marine, as well as special operations forces representing all the services, were required and trained to do, what they actually did, and what the State Department or the Embassy did with that information afterwards. So if that was your experience, all I can tell you is they did a very good job, because three times under fire–that’s pretty good. …That’s clearly not only a misrepresentation of the facts, but it’s a lie.

FS: When these individual members of the military testified before Congress and gave reports underestimating the level of engagement with the enemy, were they acting of their own volition, or on orders from superiors?
GW: …Was there an orchestrated, very carefully structured program of downplaying, misleading, misrepresenting, not quite giving the right answer if the precise question isn’t asked? Quite obviously, the answer is, yes, there was.

FS: From your perspective, why wouldn’t you want to let this rest? What is it that you feel the American military personnel in El Salvador are being cheated out of because of this policy?
GW: Well, we’re not letting it rest because it’s not the right thing to do…In today’s political and military politics, it would appear to be a very simplistic answer, but in a nutshell, approximately 4,500 or 5,000 American military personnel served in El Salvador over a 12-year period. To my knowledge, and certainly we’ve heard from a great many folks, and from what we’ve been able to see, we know that we are serving in a war. We had friends who were both wounded and killed in that war. We had a vital commitment that was handed to us to go down there and do the best job possible under extremely difficult diplomatic and wartime constrictions and restraints, and we did this job. To turn around and see that effort sullied by a formal attitude that there was no war…dishonors everything we though we were representing and involved in. And certainly, a [current] example of that is the U.N. human rights report, which essentially is not being clarified by the proper authorities in the government and is making the military personnel that were involved down there look somewhat like we were involved in things and training and teaching things that were not at all honorable, and that is not the case. What are we being cheated out of? Our just and due acknowledgement for a job well done.

FS: In terms of levels of engagement, are we talking dozens or hundreds?
GW: …[O]ver a 12-year period of time, [that] number is in the high hundreds to the low thousands. And I consider that a round fired where there was American military personnel in the area is coming under fire. [For example] in San Salvador when they were blowing the telephone and the power pole…you were under fire. So I would say, in that instance, American military personnel came under fire on an everyday occurrence.

FS: Have you any estimates, or perhaps the figures, on how many U.S. military personnel were killed in El Salvador?
GW: Fifteen were killed.

FS: You made a point earlier about human rights and some of the revelations that came out in the U.N. Truth Commission Report and you mentioned that this report somehow suggests that American military personnel were involved in things that cast them in a bad, dishonorable light. Could you explain what you meant by that?
GW: With respect to human rights, this needs to be made real clear, and this is one of the things that really is a sticking point for most of us who served down there, both Special Forces and conventional. We were mandated…to identify, to gather information, to root out those that possibly were involved in human rights violations,…who were actually taking part in death squad activities, in massacres, in any of the things that were mentioned in that report.

American advisers made every attempt to do this, often at risk to themselves, and in fact, we were, by 1984 and ’85, finding ourselves targeted by the extreme right for this kind of activity, as well as by the guerillas who were ticked off about our military involvement. Now, it was real easy to accept the guerillas trying to take us out, but it was a little difficult to accept that the folk we were supposed to be supporting in some cases were out for our scalps as well.

FS: And you were encouraging the Salvadorans not to commit violations according to the U.S. military policy on human rights?
GW: Well, you can’t lump the entire Salvadoran military into the same pot…We were to identify those Salvadoran military officers who were, in fact, very concerned with changing that policy, and were not taking part in, but were part of a system that had been involved in that kind of thing for years. And that’s endemic to that entire region. That’s historical fact, like it or not.

So we’d identify the senior officers within the military structure that you would want to preen, and to cultivate, and to bring to the forefront so you could replace the ones that were tainted, and at the same time, we were charged with training these young officers coming out of the officers school, the lieutenants, and the new and emerging Salvadoran non-commissioned corps, in the entire human rights process…[R]eporting did take place, and when my particular team was pulled out of Sonsonate, and pulled back in 1983 after Las Hojas was discovered, and those 70 peasants were discovered on my particular rifle range, we were held in check for ten days as a bargaining chip by the State Department to try to force the military structure to cough up the military personnel or the people responsible.[1]

Now, what seems to be the bone of contention here is not that American military personnel weren’t doing a hell of a job as far as gathering information, intelligence, and turning it over to the people responsible for evaluating it and taking further action, but how much of that was shared when questions were asked by the Congress or by human rights groups or by reporters. That is the big stumbling block as far as El Mozote was concerned. When that was brought to the forefront by the media, the State Department turned around and just about said it absolutely didn’t happen, [it] couldn’t find any evidence, you’re just trying to muck up this whole thing for us down here. As we find out now, it most certainly did happen.

FS: Were there any instances, for example El Mozote[2] or Las Hojas, or other cases of particular violations, where you were aware of information, or you personally or MILGROUP was aware of massacres that were then not made public? Or human rights violations or practices by members of the army which led to human rights violations which then were covered up in terms of specifics?
GW: We were aware of any number of things, not only on the Salvadoran Armed Forces side of the house, but on the FMLN’s side of the house. We photographed Salvadoran soldiers who were shot down at San Sebastian, San Vicente, Puente de Oro, the other side of San Miguel. Both sides committed some pretty heinous acts all in the name of the common good, I guess. The only way to answer that, I guess, is to say that we did a hell of a lot of reporting, and by 1987, from what I’ve been able to ascertain from letters I’ve been sent by people down there, after a while, our guys simply stopped reporting. And the reason that they stopped reporting it up through the chain is that they were reporting things that they felt were absolute violations, and were absolutely wrong, and they were not seeing any action taken.

It was up to the State Department to arrest those people or to investigate those at fault. Now, the diplomats will say “You have to understand it’s a long and involved process.” But for somebody who’s down there in the field and participating in the uncovering of these things, you see one body, or a group of bodies, and it’s pretty difficult not to say, “Why can’t you stop that now, with the information that we’ve provided for you?” And in fact, when you’re being targeted by the right, when you have to watch your front as well as your back, and you’re being told “Don’t worry, it’s been taken care of, just don’t bring it up again,” that takes a lot of the impetus out of the reporting. That’s unfortunately human nature.

FS: The reporting was being stopped because nothing was being done. But did earlier reporting include specifics–names, and dates, and facts?
GW: Absolutely. As best as we could ascertain them. You couldn’t go up to people and say 40 persons got themselves whacked over here because they were thinking of forming a workers’ union, and the landowner is not into that at all, so he asked his buddy the Colonel to send a squad over and take care of the problem. Because if and when you did that, it was real easy to find yourself on the receiving end of a grenade, or a bomb, or a rifle bullet. And so it was something that had to be done very carefully, very slowly, and our guys put themselves at tremendous risk to accomplish that, and then reported the information and then just saw it disappear into that great void.

FS: Specifically, to whom was this information reported?
GW: Any kind of combat field info all went up your immediate chain of command. If I was, say, at Usulutan and got something like that, I would report it up one step above myself–in most cases to US. MILGROUP. From there it would be channeled through the deputy commander, MILGROUP commander, and from there, directly to the Ambassador,…[ and] directly from the military, right into the hands of those charged with conducting our foreign policy in that country.

FS: Then it presumably would have gone on to Washington?
GW: And from there it would have gone directly on to Washington. And that’s a good point, too. Washington wanted to know what was going on in El Salvador, and did indeed know on an almost real time basis. In 1984, when had I had a tape recorder, I would have loved to have taped this one–the American advisory element in El Paraiso came under fire. An AC-130 gunship was scrambled from Honduras, and flown over El Paraiso to help pinpoint those guerrilla actions. This was all being monitored by the MILGROUP and the Embassy. Southern Command was called immediately and came on the line as well, and then a line went up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it was real interesting listening to all of these parties all over asking, “How are these five Americans, where are they, and what’s going to happen to them?” The interest level in Washington was really high. They knew at any time exactly what it was that was going on, where we were, and what we were doing, throughout the entire war.

FS: And then at a certain point, people decided it wasn’t worth trying to get this information, nothing was being done, and it was in fact dangerous to get it?
GW:It was very dangerous to get it, and it was just like you were feeding reports into this big report file, and if something was being done, it was taking an enormous amount of time, or it wasn’t really happening at all, because[the] bigger picture was intruding upon the immediacy of what you were seeing or hearing.

FS: So your point in terms of honor of the role of U.S. military people on the ground is that it is not that the revelations of the U.N. Truth Commission aren’t true. What you’re saying is it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ground that nothing was done; it was the fault of people higher up who didn’t do anything with the information. Is that correct?
GW: That’s correct.

Inset article:

War in Periods of Peace

During the Iran-Contra hearings, House chief counsel John Nields asked Lt. Col. Oliver North about a line in his notes referring to a “delicate stage of transition from ‘blank’ run operation to ‘blank’-run.”

Nields: Well you put in some blanks, you said “blank in two places, there’s nothing classified about either of those words and one of them is CIA.
North: Well.
Nields: And the other is Southern Command.

The operation referred to was El Salvador. In his interview, Walker shed some light on what North meant about a “delicate stage of transition” from a CIA- to Southern Command-run operation.

Greg Walker: The mandate for the Central Intelligence Agency upon its creation in, I believe, 1947 is that the Agency has responsibility for military operations during periods of declared peace. In other words, they are responsible and indeed can direct, run, operate in these kinds of conflicts totally legally. During those times of declared peace, Special Forces are made available, by law, to the Agency, which is why Special Forces has always been the advisory arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. That is no big secret. The only time that that changes is a period when war is no longer considered to be a peace time.

I know this seems contradictory, war being undertaken during periods of peace, but that’s when the transition goes from the Agency’s direct control to the American military’s direct control and when that happens, Special Forces, if they have been working with or under the auspices of the Agency, they flip-flop back under the control of the military and that I think is what you’re seeing in that testimony.

The early stages of the war were very much Agency-directed and -oriented, and as the war and our commitment expanded, as our assets in Panama through the US. Southern Command and in Honduras became more and more and more involved, control was taken out of the hands of the Agency and turned back over to the formal military through the United States Southern Command.

– –

1. The mostly indigenous peasants were executed at the Las Hojas fanning
cooperative in February 1983. An arrest warrant was issued for Col. Araujo in
1987, but never carried out. Col. Araujo was subsequently cleared of all charges
in a blanket amnesty issued by Pres. Jose Napoleon Duarte in October 1987.

2. The 1981 El Mozote massacre, in which the Salvadoran army killed hundreds
of unarmed villagers, was reported by Ray Bonner (New York Times) and Anna
Guillermoprieto (Washington Post). Embassy and State Department officials
denied the incident and after considerable pressure, Bomer was transferred off
the Central America beat and eventually left the Times. Eleven years later, the
U.N. Truth Commission report corroborated the accounts of the massacre and
the guilt of the Salvadoran army.

Guatemala’s Gross National Products: Cocadollars, Repression, and Disinformation

In the early 1980s, leftist guerrillas in Guatemala blew up bridges, ambushed army convoys, and attacked military outposts. A decade later, the fighting in Guatemala’s civil war is winding down. Combat between the government and the guerrillas now occurs in only a few departments and only a few times each year. But political violence, almost exclusively by the government, continues. Even the U.S. State Department reported in 1991 that the military, civil patrols and the police continued to commit a majority of the major human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances.

The Guatemalan counterinsurgency campaign was conceived with the support of U.S. counterinsurgency experts such as Caesar Sereseres and Colonel George Minas. Sereseres has served as both a consultant to the Rand Corporation and a Central America expert in the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. Today, Guatemalan army officers still describe him as someone who understands our situation. Minas served as a U.S. military attache in Guatemala in the early 1980s. Both encouraged Guatemala’s population control strategy, involving the use of Vietnam-style military-controlled strategic hamlets and civilian defense patrols.

The strategy of control was also characterized by a litany of human rights crimes that stand out not only in the region but in the world. The violence was so severe in the early 1980s in Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu’s home department of Quich, to cite but one example, that the entire Catholic archdiocese shut down and withdrew, with all its priests, nuns, catechists, and many parishioners. The situation there and in other departments by 1982 led Guatemala’s Conference of Catholic Bishops to conclude: Not even the lives of old people, pregnant women or innocent children were respected. Never in our history has it come to such grave extremes.


Not everyone suffered. Guatemalan army spokesmen openly point out that the carnage has given Guatemala a level of national stability it lacked earlier in the war, and made the country comparatively more stable than El Salvador, Honduras, or even Mexico. With the military firmly in charge, and the civilian government largely irrelevant, foreign investment has climbed. Low wages have attracted Asian firms wanting to set up sweatshops, as well as European and U.S. tourists.

It has also attracted the network of cocaine traffickers based in the Colombian city of Cali. The cartel picked Guatemala because it is near Mexico, which is an obvious entrance point to the U.S., and because the Mexicans have a long established and well organized mafia, said a Latin America drug enforcement expert. It is also a better transit and storage country than El Salvador because it offers more stability and was easier to control.


In the 1980s, Guatemala was an insignificant player in the cocaine trade. Today, however, Guatemala is the largest Central American bodega or warehouse for cocaine transshipments to the U.S., and ranks behind only Mexico and, perhaps, the Bahamas in transshipping cocaine to the U.S. Analysts at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics Matters (INM) now estimate that between 50 and 75 metric tons of cocaine are shipped through Guatemala each year. (In comparison, the same experts estimate that before the present embargo, between 6 and 12 metric tons a year passed through Haiti.) Mexico and Guatemala, which share a common frontier, together move at least two-thirds of the cocaine now reaching the U.S.

Guatemala’s booming cocaine trade now distorts the Guatemalan economy, drawing local businesses into a web of cocadollars and fostering corruption in both business and the military. The Cali cartel and its Guatemalan partners are trafficking cocaine that, at the wholesale price of $15,000 a kilogram, is worth as much as one billion dollars a year or one-tenth of Guatemala’s entire GNP.

Evidence of the cash flow generated by the cocaine trade is abundant: Real estate prices in Guatemala City, by conservative estimates, rose over 350 percent in just three years, while inflation dropped from 60 to 14 percent over the same period. Even more illicit funds appear to be channeled into the construction industry, which has grown steadily at a rate four times faster than the rest of the economy. While other Central American capital cities only seem to deteriorate, Guatemala City’s skyline continues to expand even though the newly constructed buildings still have ample vacant office space.

The situation became so unnerving by November 1992 that a group of local exporters organized an unprecedented conference: how to detect whether their export products are being used to run drugs. They held the conference seven months after 6.7 tons of cocaine enough to supply the total U.S. demand for a week was discovered in cases of frozen broccoli shipped to Miami. Even these business leaders concede that, in a sluggish global economy with many export markets depressed, the profits available from cocaine trafficking can be extremely tempting. Newspaper editors say that the cocaine trade in Guatemala has been able to buy out entire businesses as well as institutions. But although everybody in Guatemala seems to know about it, hardly anybody is willing, publicly, to say even a word.


Off the record, Western diplomats, leading entrepreneurs, church officials and others all charge that senior Guatemalan army officers are deeply involved in the cocaine traffic. Although not even one military official has yet to be prosecuted in either Guatemala or the U.S., 10 military officers and 20 paramilitaries under them have already been indicted or implicated. They include:

1) Ex-Lt. Colonel Carlos Ochoa Ruiz and two army captains, all of whom were caught in a DEA sting back in 1990, smuggling a half metric ton of cocaine, worth $7.5 million wholesale, to Tampa, Florida.
2) A retired Guatemalan Air Force captain who owned a safe house outside Antigua where the DEA found 2.8 metric tons of cocaine.
3) Four army colonels, a major, a captain and 20 army-appointed civilian commissioners in Los Amates in eastern Guatemala, who are accused in legal testimony by survivors of having ordered the separate murders of nine peasants, and the torture and abuse of many more.

The Los Amates survivors charge that the army drove them off their land to build runways to smuggle drugs. One of the military commissioners they name, Arnoldo Vargas Estrada, was later extradited to Brooklyn, New York, where he will be tried for smuggling several tons of cocaine a month by tractor trailers to the U.S.


The Guatemalan army’s office of Information and Dissemination, on the other hand, counters that leftist guerrillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) are responsible. Not one guerrilla or political opponent of the Guatemalan government has been either charged or indicted. Yet the Guatemalan army maintains that they should be.

Its Department of Information and Dissemination has a manila envelope, marked with an official stamp SECRETO, which spokesmen are eager to show to journalists upon request. The documents describe an alleged anti-drug operation high up in Guatemala’s northern Peten jungle, where the URNG guerrillas were once strong. According to the documents, in July 1991 a Treasury Police unit engaged in combat with guerrillas discovered a small plane with Colombian registration. Included in the file is a photograph of a white male wearing a baseball cap with the letters, in place of a ball team, DEA. He is standing over the plane’s cargo stacked brown paper-wrapped packages and holding up a flag with the initials FAR the acronym for one of three wings of the URNG.

For reasons still unexplained, the Army waited 16 months until November 1992 to release the secret file, the color Polaroids, and an army-produced video of the alleged raid.

The video begins with members of the Treasury Police running single file up to a line of trees, and firing automatic weapons in sequence at an unseen enemy. Later, these armed soldiers are seen around a small plane and the brown packages. The film then zeros in on the Polaroid of the white male wearing the baseball cap with the letters DEA. When asked whether this man with the DEA baseball cap was a DEA agent, army spokesman Captain Yon Rivera said, Look at it. You can see for yourself. When asked why the DEA hasn’t said anything about the guerrillas running cocaine, spokesman Yon Rivera, commonly identified in local newspapers as The Voice of the Armed Forces said: The DEA has not accused the guerrillas for this. I don’t know why they don’t want to say it.

U.S. Embassy officials in Guatemala City declined comment. When asked about the raid, Joyce McDonald at DEA headquarters in Washington faxed a description of the raid, the video, and the man with the DEA baseball cap to the DEA Field Division in Guatemala City. That office faxed back a brief response: DEA is unfamiliar with the film or scenario described above.

Blaming the guerrillas is not without a certain irony. The same army spokesmen who claim the guerrillas are running tons of cocaine boast in the same breath how the guerrillas are militarily defeated. The army estimates that there are fewer than 500 full-time guerrilla combatants left.Yet, the army fails to explain how a mere 500 stragglers under pressure just to stay alive, let alone fight could be responsible for receiving, storing and transshipping the bulk of Guatemala’s flow of cocaine.


Although the charge that the guerrillas are behind the cocaine traffic is, on the face of it, without basis, it is regularly reported as fact throughout Guatemala. The Guatemalan army’s ability to manipulate the press is yet another violent legacy of its past. After seeing more of their colleagues killed or disappeared than in any other country in Central America (and that is saying a lot), Guatemalan journalists rarely challenge anything the military says. No matter how broad or baseless, the military’s allegations are still regularly reported in Guatemalan daily newspapers, radio, and television reports in most cases, without a word of qualification. And regionally based foreign journalists have simply ignored the military’s accusations, if they’ve bothered to report on Guatemala at all.

As a result, neither Guatemala’s nine million citizens (most of whom, like the peasants in Mexico’s Chiapas, are of Mayan descent), nor North American consumers of news about Guatemala are well served. Guatemalan citizens have been saturated with the view that their tiny country is the victim of a global communist conspiracy that endures despite the end of the Cold War. And countless Guatemalans, especially among the whiter, wealthier members of its population, very much do believe it. This is a war here, said one such businessman, between the country and those who want to destroy it, the guerrillas. Meanwhile, North American readers have been insulated from the most outlandish of Guatemalan officials’ accusations, and their by any post-Cold War standard extreme world view. The failure of the U.S. press to adequately report on Guatemala is one reason why the Clinton administration enjoys warm relations with Guatemala despite its authoritarian past and present.

The Guatemalan army maintains that the URNG guerrillas have compensated for their battlefield losses by shifting their resources to a political warfare campaign. While the guerrillas are poor military commanders, say Guatemalan army representatives, they are brilliant manipulators of world opinion. The army claims that the guerrillas’ propaganda campaign is not only successful but has managed to either manipulate or control individuals, organizations, publications, and even governments.

In August 1992, Newsweek ran a story, “Subtle Clues in Shallow Graves: Uncovering evidence of massacres in Guatemala”. In response, then Guatemalan Minister of Defense Jos Garcia Samayoa threatened to press charges against Newsweek and respected forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, who conducted the investigation. The General said, “It worries us to see how foreign interference in this case has grown in dimension, injuring…the independence and sovereignty of Guatemalans.”

International authority Clyde Snow, who has examined cadavers in Kurdistan, Chile, Argentina, and most recently Mexico’s Chiapas, has harsh words for the Guatemalan army: The military guys who do this are like serial killers. They got away with it once, so they think they’ll always get away with it. If Jeffrey Dahmer had been in Guatemala, he would be a general by now. Around the same time, indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchu, from Guatemala’s most war-torn department of Quich, was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Then army spokesman Yon Rivera was not impressed: The only thing Miss Menchu has done abroad is create a very bad image of our country. After she won the prize, Rivera charged that Guatemala had been the victim of a global political warfare campaign, but he didn’t know whether it was a case of direct infiltration. At the very least, he charged, the Nobel committee itself had been, somehow, unduly influenced by the URNG.30

The Guatemalan army has accused the U.S. of participating in the political warfare as well. By 1991, congressional critics had helped persuade the Bush administration to cut military aid to Guatemala, which it did partly over the murder of an American innkeeper, Michael Devine. That led the Guatemalan army to claim that the U.S. government itself had been unduly influenced by the URNG. According to the army’s Department of Information and Dissemination, members of the U.S. Congress and the State Department have been, respectively, conspirators and dupes. There is a U.S. congressman who has on his staff a member of the URNG, spokesman Rivera said in an interview, although Rivera could remember neither the congressman nor his staff member’s name. But one name he could recall was that of Frank LaRue, whose activities Rivera said proves his point. According to Rivera, LaRue is a lobbyist for the URNG, who enjoys undue influence in the State Department. “He has an open door,” said Rivera, nodding his head. He has the key.

LaRue made the Guatemalan national stage over a decade ago when he defended Coca-Cola workers in a bitter strike in Guatemala City, after which he went into political exile until 1994, when he returned briefly to Guatemala. While in the U.S., LaRue was a well-known activist in the Guatemalan opposition movement, and continued to work on labor and human rights issues in Guatemala through the privately-funded Center for Human Rights Legal Action in Washington, D.C. It was in this capacity that he was invited to the State Department for meetings with Guatemalan army representatives to discuss issues of military justice and human rights.

U.S. journalists who criticize the military are also accused of being part of the conspiracy. After the Washington Post published an article by the author about the Cali cartel and the Guatemalan army on December 26, 1993, the Army’s Department of Information and Dissemination held a press conference the following day to respond: Members of the Department of Information and dissemination of the Guatemalan Army reiterated that `there exists a campaign against the prestige of the government and the armed forces on the part of groups that seek to satisfy their own interests by creating a negative image of the country and the democratic process that we live in.


Indeed, according to the Guatemalan army, this campaign against the prestige of the government and armed forces is one of the broadest in the history of the Cold War, which, it maintains, has yet to end. And, if the Guatemalan military is to be believed, the propaganda campaign has extended its tentacles to some very unlikely places. In January 1993, the army uncovered a conspiracy involving an entertainment establishment, a local television station and U.S. Secret Service agents attached to United Nations dignitaries visiting New York.

Guatemala’s then formal head of state, President Jorge Serrano (who last May failed to survive his own Fujimori-style self-coup), was on an official trip to the United Nations. Although the visit coincided with President Clinton’s inauguration, the Guatemalan leader was not invited. After Serrano spoke to the U.N. General Assembly, blaming Guatemala’s leftist guerrillas for much of his country’s problems, he went for a drink at Stringfellows of NY, Ltd. in the posh Gramercy Park neighborhood of lower Manhattan.

The Guatemalan leader found a table facing a stage with naked, dancing women. A local free-lance cameraman happened to be having a drink and watching the show too.

The next day at 6:00 p.m., WNBC-TV’s News 4 New York aired an exclusive report. It captured the Guatemalan leader trying to hide his face behind a white ski parka and hood, while exiting the club and entering the back seat of his waiting limousine. In addition to close-ups of the President’s face, viewers saw his armed U.S. Secret Service escorts as well as his entire diplomatic motorcade. After running the tape, the news anchor added that President Serrano is an outspoken born-again, evangelical Christian.

News 4 New York aired the report again at 11:00 p.m. But in the later broadcast, the anchor included President Serrano’s official response. He blamed his capture on film at the go go bar on manipulation by Guatemala’s leftist guerrillas.

Spokespersons for News 4 New York, Stringfellows of NY, Ltd., and the Secret Service were all, at first, incredulous and then offended. All deny the charge.

What the Guatemalan army fails to realize is that the more it blames leftist guerrillas for its problems, the more isolated it becomes. During the Cold War, Guatemala was already a pariah regime within the world community. But with changes and reforms now taking place or on the horizon in places as troubled as South Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland, continuing Guatemalan political violence, cocaine trafficking, and military impunity leave that country more alone than ever.