If we want an end to ethnic conflict we have to invest less in war and more in the culture of peace
– Federico Mayor Zaragoza
Focus: Latin America
I have neglected talking about Latin America perhaps because the cause is so important and I do not want to do it an injustice. Still, silence is not an option. Forgetting and neglecting to raise my voice make me part of the problem.
My interest in Latin America was sparked by the simple question of why one part of the world can be so rich and another so poor. How can countries rich in natural resources be labeled poor? I discovered many truths about the length and breadth of the problem from sites such as http://www2.truman.edu/~marc/resources/interventions.html and the passionate outrage of Galeano’s masterpiece The Open Veins of Latin America.
One basic truth I learned is that you are less likely to be invaded and have your life destroyed if your country has no natural resources or you are not in the way of a pipeline.
The horror of invasion is and always has been about greed. Those wars that rip the natural world order will always appeal to those without a conscience who prey on the vulnerable. The answer never was and never should be arms. And that is a subject largely neglected by our history books. So, where to begin?
- An Invasion in Colombia
Taganga: Little Israel
I start in the present in a small Colombian fishing village. The indigenous name of the village, Taganga, is thought to mean either the Hills of the Snakes or Entrance to the Sea. Taganga is both. This is paradise and hell because two types of tourists come here: those who want to appreciate beauty and those who want to exploit and destroy it. About five years ago many Israeli former soldiers arrived in the fishing village of Taganga as tourists, liked what they saw, went home and told their friends. Now they are back in force with money, arms, and a taste for drugs and young girls. It has earned Taganga the name “Little Israel.”
Some of these well-funded Israeli ex-soldiers live in a giant secure concrete enclave. They settled in the hills and the locals are far from happy. Community leaders say the Israelis act as if they are the law. The ex-soldiers claim they are investors and that they are just in a resort and spending their time and money there. The mayor Carlos Caicedo disagrees. He is concerned at how the money is gained and spent. The local police are no help to him.
Many of these Israeli invaders openly carry weapons arms, and drive around in open trucks flying the flag of Israel. No one knows the population of the village and visitors are constantly coming and going and no one is keeping count. But the invasion is big enough to have locals and officials outraged and terrified enough to call for the help of the army.
One establishment called Bait House or Casa Bait is noted for the number of drug dealers who go there and the number of under-age girls they bring in on a regular basis. These teenagers are brought in from nearby towns such as Antioquia, Cartagena and Santa Marta. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the area has increased dramatically.
So trying to put it in context I could see the connection with drugs and war. I could see the connection with lack of regard for the vulnerable especially young girls and war. But what is this war? Is it independent soldiers or part of a larger scheme? On the world map we are not too far from oil here. http://www.baraaza.com/taganga-1592372/map.aspx Nearby Venezuela has surrounding one of the oldest lakes in the world Lake Maracaibo massive reserves of crude oil. Is that it or drugs for funding other battles? I don’t know yet. Conflict is business in the world of the warped: http://english.safe-democracy.org/2006/08/03/the-war-over-resources-in-latin-america/ Too many have died in “drugs wars” in this country. In general the new power groups in control of drugs target civilians. Killings and rapes are tools of their trade.
The writing on the wall of the school in Taganga teaches human rights. It is talked about less and less in the countries of the oppressors and many students here in the U.S. have no clue what they are or how they are being violated by their own governments. I’m glad to see it in big letters on the school wall there but imagine there would be an outcry if I proposed doing that here. The flag is adored and worship but human rights are offensive to many who would prefer to protect profits over people.
This is just a snapshot of a larger problem. Until we get back local news and give credence to local reports and see with a heart that believes in human rights passionately, we will not have a better world. What is happening is Taganga is relevant to all of us. The greedy will feed on their abuse of power and still their hunger will never be satisfied as long as we permit it. I have been quiet too long. We all have.
To invest in a culture of peace we must start by taking away obstacles to peace and number one on the list is arms. I appeal to all who engage in arms production to stop. Let no one anywhere engage in arms production. Do not tolerate it anywhere. Take away the weapons of destruction and the fear they cause. The good outnumber the weak but the few can cripple all of us with fear if we let them. Call them out on their crimes and say it loud. Sí, se puede.