From World War Four Report
by Bill Weinberg
The Colombian department of Arauca, heartland of that country's oil industry, is one the most violent. It lies just across the Rio Arauca, an Orinoco tributary, from Venezuela's own Orinoco Basin oil heartland of Apure-Barinas states.
The main oil field in Arauca is at Cano-Limon, run by California-based Occidental Petroleum in a joint partnership with the Colombia state company Ecopetrol. Many of the 800 U.S. military advisors in Colombia are assigned to Arauca, and since last year they have been overseeing a new Colombian army unit specially created to police Cano-Limon against guerilla attack
"In early 2003, US personnel embarked on their first major non-drug initiative, a plan to help Colombia's army protect an oil pipeline and re-take territory
Now, a leader of Colombia's oil workers union claims that the U.S. military is actually transforming Cano-Limon into a base intended for launching attacks against Venezuela. Oscar Canas Fajardo, advisor to Colombia's Central Workers Union, or CUT, speaking with Venezuelan journalist Alfredo Carquez Saavedra
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) (Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, etc.), "South America--the Next Swamp?," warns that even as the U.S. is "draining the swamp" in Afghanistan, "ideological killers are regrouping with the aid of leftist governments and drug lords" in the western hemisphere. The principal "leftist government" in question is, of course, that of Hugo Chavez.
Writes JINSA: "A British newspaper reports that the IRA is conducting mortar training in the Venezuelan jungle for the Marxist Colombian FARC.
he British newspaper account JINSA cites is from the London Sunday Times of March 13. It concerns three accused Irish Republican Army militants who jumped bail and disappeared following their conviction in Colombia last year on charges of providing the FARC with mortar training. ... have established a training camp on Venezuelan territory in the Sierra de Perija, a branch of the Andes whose divide forms the international border heading north from Arauca.
2005 began with a dramatic deterioration in Colombia-Venezuela relations following the Colombian government's admission that it sent bounty-hunters to abduct FARC representative Rodrigo Granda Escobar in Caracas, ... and State Department spokesmen began accusing Venezuela of providing a safe-haven for Colombian guerillas. Chavez, in turn, accused Washington of trying to foment war between Venezuela and Colombia, and even plotting to assassinate him.
Despite these tensions, Chavez is inviting new multinational investment for the oil zone--and even an ambitious trans-border project with Colombia. In August 2001, Texaco, PDVSA and Ecopetrol signed a memorandum of understanding for a feasibility study on a new pipeline linking natural gas fields of La Guajira, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, to Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela's main export terminal.
he new pipeline connecting ChevronTexaco's gas fields in the Colombian department of La Guajira to Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo would have to cross the Sierra de Perija, where Uribe and JINSA now claim a FARC-IRA training camp is operating. La Guajira itself is among Colombia's most violent regions, with a string of assassinations of indigenous leaders by presumed paramilitary forces reported already this year. The new pipeline may carry war and human rights abuses to Venezuela as well as gas.
On April 4, hundreds of representatives of the Bari, Yukpa and Wayuu indigenous peoples from the Venezuelan side of the Sierra de Perija, clad in traditional dress and wielding bows and arrows, marched in Caracas to demand a halt to coal mining operations near their traditional lands.
The coal is currently transported by truck to Maracaibo, the port and regional capital, but there are plans to construct a rail line for this purpose, as well to build a deep sea port in the Gulf of Venezuela, just to Maracaibo's north. The new gas pipeline would be another artery through this same conflicted border zone.
AMAZON WATCH Challenging US military aid to Colombia