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Las Americas, continued from page 17 he was transferred to Barranquilla. There, he immediately made contact with the paramilitaries and routinely met with the Lop esierra brothers, CEOs of the narco-enterprise originally run by Alberto Orlandez Gamboa. Mr. Gamboa, a.k.a. “The Snail,” had been previously extradited to the U.S. Regrettably for the General, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had the Lopesierra boys and the local paras under surveillance, videotaping their movements and contacts. Imagine the agents’ shock and horror when , the General popped up on the screen and the tapes. It wasn’t a cameo appearance either, but more like a starring role. And we’re not talking about a lone, low-level rogue officer simply showing off with his finger on the trigger and his hand in the till.We are talking about a very big shot. Literally. This is like finding out that Gen. Tommy Franks has been buying uranium in Africa. Accordingly, this past April, two U.S. embassy officials tapped on the door of the Defense Minister and had her send for aVCR.When she saw the tapes, she sent her two visitors round to the various Armed Forces Commanders, who, we understand, each kept them waiting a rather long time and then did nothing. Finally in June, President Uribe intervened and fired the General. So let’s see, now How does this all work? The United States finances the Colombian military’s war on drugs and terror. The aid, however, is conditioned on the military’s severance of its ties to paramilitaries because they are terrorists and narcos. Also murderers and thieves. But the Colombian Armed Forces don’t really comply. They like the paras and get along well with them because they, too, are murderers and thieves. The Bush administration tries to obscure this ugly fact. Meanwhile, civilian employees in Colombia’s Defense Ministry are treated rather badly and form a union. The union leader protests the way in which Ministry workers are kicked around in an excessively exploitative fashion. She is an especially distressing presence because she knows more than she should about the ties that might jeopardize access to U.S. millions. She and her children are then targeted and threatened by the paramilitaries, who are assisted in their efforts by the Colombian military, amply supplied by the U.S. government. She appeals to the Colombian government for protection. It provides her with security measures, such as they are, that also are funded by the U.S. government. The level of hypocrisy in this undertaking is breathtaking. I mean, why bother? If our government is going to ship $600 million worth of weapons and “technical assistance” to the likes of General Diaz, then a few walkie-talkies and a flak jacket are not going to help Maria Clara. And the pious, high-moral tone of the USAID program is also hard to take: “USAID’s goal is to promote responsive, participative, and accountable public institutions, particularly in the judiciary, municipal governments and agencies that deal with human rights.” Yeah, right. If that is the case, why wasn’t General Diaz formally charged with drug-trafficking and terrorism and tried publicly in court? What were the two Embassy officials doing slinking around Bogota in April, rather than simply informing the Attorney General of Colombia and having the General charged openly? Why did the Minister of Defense, the Armed Forces and the President delay more than a month in taking any action against Diaz? Why has there been no investigation of the attempts on the lives of Maria Clara Baquero and her children? Why in nearly a year of beefed up military operations, have the Armed Forces not successfully captured a single paramilitary leader? And how can USAID believe that anyone is really fooled by the half-baked, cheapskate “protection program” that is now the only thing that stands between Maria Clara Baquero and assassination? When not traveling throughout the Americas, Gabriela Bocagrande lives in Washington, D. C. Rapoport, continued from page 18 selves not just to the what, but equally to the how. Make up your mind what you want and go get it, but just keep in mind that how you get it is even more important than what you set out to achieve. I will always remember the admonition of my father, who was an oldtime radical, very radical, and who exhorted me almost every morning with these admonitions that I consider to be pearls of wisdom protect your name never let a book out of your hands have a sense of outrage at injustice. Let’s all dedicate ourselves to making our country a great country by making it a good country. Let us all have a sense of outrage at injustice. Let’s all dedicate ourselves to being fair and sensitive to the needs of all Americans. We’re counting on your leadership to help make this a reality. An edited excerpt of a commencement speech delivered at Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio, August 9. Editorial, continued from page 3 day to make their communities better. They know that government does in fact matter. A local Congressman with senioritythe Democrats DeLay wants eliminatedcan have a meaningful effect on a community in federal assistance and problems solved. If anything positive can come out of this redistricting mess, may it be that the “blue-collar workers” our elitist governor hopes will stay uninterested wake up and embrace the reality that government can make a positive difference in their lives. After that, it won’t be long before they elect candidates who truly represent their interests. JB 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 8129/03