This article contains an analysis formulated on the basis of other newspaper articles that contain information which are not necessarily always true, as part of them do not come from official sources. The objective of this article is nothing more than trying to formulate a hypothesis about what happened on July 15 to the UN Field Officer Mario Paciolla and to collocate this case in a wider contextual framework than what has been reported by the press so far.
Is the purpose of the UN mission in Colombia really to ensure the compliance with the peace agreements? The shadow of the United States over Mario Paciolla's case
In the current complicated Colombian social situation, in which episodes of violence and murders of human rights activists occur almost every day, there are many actors who are fighting for the control of the territory: militaries, paramilitaries, narcotrafficants, FARC guerrillas. However, there is a less prominent protagonist, who could be having a relevant influence on what is happening at the moment in the country, who bears the name of United States. The recent deployment of American troops in Colombia with the approval of President Duque, justified with the pretext of the “War on Drugs” against narcotrafficants, may be interpreted as the confirmation of the US current strong geopolitical and economic interest in the area. The event sparked numerous protests both among activists and within the opposition party, which labeled the episode as a further violation of the peace agreements which contributes to intensify the already tense atmosphere of violence that reigns in the country. The interference of United States in Colombian politics has always been constant over time: it is sufficient to think about the US support to the 1953 military coup that brought military dictator Rojas Pinilla to power, the anti-insurgency Plan Lazo of 1962, the 1964 Marquetalia operation and the 2000 Colombia Plan approved by former President Clinton. The common denominator of all these plans is the constant sending of US soldiers in the territory and the support of the government violent actions. US justifies the issue stating that their militaries will help to fight narcotrafficants. However, throughout history, it has been demonstrated in countless reports and analysis that this strategy never led to a decrease in drug production, which, in fact, in Colombia continues to thrive more than ever. The US activity of political interference after the Second World War involved not only Colombia, but also many others South American states, whose control was indispensable both to avert the Russian communist threat and to pursue economic, political and strategical interests. Such interference displayed itself through the constant support of right-wing pro-American governments and the perpetual sabotage of the left-wing democratic ones, seen as dangerous because of their alleged political closeness to Russia. United States have consequently backed numerous military coups, carried out by cooperating together with the nationalistic movements of the respective South American countries, and contributed significantly to the advent of many violent and repressive dictatorships within the continent. Giving a brief summary: the US-backed coup in Brasil in 1964 overthrew the democratic government chaired by President Goulart; in 1971, the Banzer Suarez coup in Bolivia, always backed by the United States, overthrew the government headed by President Juan José Torres; in Chile, in 1973, the CIA helped the dictator Pinochet to ascend to power by overthrowing Allende’s democratic government; in Argentina, in 1976, United States supported a coup that led to the overthrow of President Peron’s democratic government, allowing the military dictator Videla to rise to power. Similar dynamics have occurred in different points in time also in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Uruguay, Panama, the Dominican Republic and more recently in Honduras and Venezuela. As the well-known American linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky also states, in the South American continent the United States represented, and still represents, a constant threat to democracy and during the period in which the United States had control over South America, that area had become "the center of world torture".
The US interference in the politics of South American countries, according to the journalist and economist Mark Weisbrot, is still ongoing and manifests itself with different methods and modalities, which vary from country to country. Many of the support operations of the South American coups have been carried out through a cooperative work between the CIA and USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, which, during the course of its history, has not only performed humanitarians operations, but also committed terrible crimes against humanity. USAID and the CIA had been working side by side in Uruguay, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and cooperated with the right-wing groups present in the territory to impose dictatorial governments on the respective countries at the expense of civilians.
What does all this have to do with the case of Mario Paciolla? Apparently nothing, were it not for the fact that Christian Thompson, UN security officer in Colombia and key figure in the case, comes from USAID-Colombia, organization for which he worked until 2019 before being employed at the UN mission. Allegedly Thompson, because of this recent work experience, may be politically and ideologically close to the United States, whose commitment may persist even now that he is employed at UN. There is at the moment nothing that can really proof this theory, but, however, the numerous episodes of espionage and infiltrations that have occurred within all these organizations in the course of their history should not be forgotten, and there is nothing which can exclude that this may happen also in this case. The New York Times reporter Philip Shenon stated that the CIA had infiltrated the UN operations in Iraq in the early 1990s and former USAID director John Gilligan reported that “at one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind”. Therefore, the fears of Paciolla, who recently confided to his ex-girlfriend to be afraid that he was spied on by CIA, may not be entirely unfounded. Furthermore, in the past the Americans have already been protagonist of espionage at the expense of United Nations officials, giving rise to an international controversy.
The circumstances of Christian Thompson, who had been working not only in the Colombian army but also as director of operations for multinational companies in the mining and quarrying sector, should be investigated from top to bottom by international authorities. It is necessary to ascertain whether he is actually carrying out a humanitarian mission in Colombia or was sent there only to facilitate operations of control and militarization executed by the Colombian government with the backing of the United States, in order to accomplish economic purposes. The doubts about Thompson are further exacerbated by the fact that he altered the crime scene in the Paciolla case by carrying away his mobile phone and his computer, which, according to Thompson himself, were then disposed of in a landfill and are no longer recoverable. It should also be emphasized that Paciolla, an experienced operator with a long and relevant international experience in humanitarian organizations, had also revealed to his ex-girlfriend, in the last days before his death, that he "was no longer trusting Thompson".
American interests in Colombia
One of the main obstacles to the American economic interests in Colombia is represented by the presence of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas on the territory. United States are engaged in fighting the Colombian FARC since their birth, which took place in 1964 as a result of the military operation Marquetalia, conducted by the Colombian government with the support of the United States to crack down on the peasant agrarian organizations present in the area. A report drafted by the CIA in 1994 states:
“Gaviria’s [Colombian President from 1990-1994] hard-line counterinsurgency approach has sent a clear law-and-order message and has reassured U.S. firms interested in continued investment in Colombia”. Rather than highlighting concerns with human rights and ‘collateral damage’, the report denotes that the guerrillas “continued ability to hit military and economic targets in remote regions and to sow fear through assassinations and bombings in the cities undermines popular confidence in the government and makes foreign investors wary”. The report further emphasizes the need for the Gaviria administration to increase troops in oil producing regions so as to ensure investor confidence. It states that “if a new administration focuses on extended talks with the guerrillas and fails to increase military presence in the oil regions, investors are likely to hold back on new ventures”.
The recent deployment of American troops on the territory suggests that not much has changed since then in the current US political agenda: the FARC guerrillas are still present in numerous areas of high economic interest and still represent an obstacle to American and multinationals investments. In order to realize these economic purposes, it is therefore to assume that the United States is even now consistently backing the repressive military actions carried out by the Colombian government. It is remarkable the fact that president Duque welcomed the arrival of the US militaries on the territory and defended it from the criticism coming from the opposition party and human rights activists.
Suspicions about the UN mission in Colombia
According to Paciolla's words reported in an article of El Espectador, the attitude of the UN mission in Colombia has been very "passive" towards the government violent actions, like the bombings carried out by the armed forces against civilians. Paciolla also identified, in the course of his work, opaque relations between his superiors and the Colombian military forces, and also declared that he was feeling "dirty" for what he was doing.
Connecting all the dots, a suspicion may arise that the peace agreements between the Colombian government and the FARC as well as the humanitarian work carried out by the UN mission in Colombia could hide not the benevolent intention to build a situation of sociopolitical stability and peace in the Colombian territory, but instead a devious attempt to drive the guerrilla away from the areas of high economic interest in order to facilitate the multinationals investment. The recent episodes of violence in Bogota indicate a lack of willingness by the Duque government to create a peaceful atmosphere within the country. Furthermore, the absence of criticism by Trump regarding the violence that rages on the Colombian territory and the likely presence of personalities inside the UN colombian Mission who are close to the governmental military forces, fuels the doubt about the work carried out by the Mission itself, which has already been criticized by Paciolla on several occasions. Nevertheless, it must also be identified the presence of UN operators which do not endorse Duque’s government: this is confirmed by the episode in which, according to an article of El Espectador, the Director of the Verification area in the Mission Raul Rosende leaked a report written by Paciolla about the murder of several unarmed underage FARC guerrillas by the government’s army to opposition senator Barreras, who used it as a political weapon to force the resignation of the then defense minister Botero. In addition to this, in the article was also mentioned that several operators within the UN mission in Colombia rejoiced after Botero’s fall. The leak of this report by Rosende occurred, apparently, without giving prior notice to Ruiz Massieu, who was deemed to be too close to the government.
The episodes of opacity that have occurred within UN, USAID and CIA, the US attitude of interfering in the politics of South American countries and the recurring episodes of espionage and infiltration by American intelligence make it necessary to conduct a proper investigation in the UN Mission in Colombia in order to clarify these doubts.
Are we sure that Christian Thompson is really participating to a humanitarian mission in Colombia and is not instead working undercover for the United States? Are we sure that the UN mission in Colombia is actively working to contain the violence carried out by the Duque government and to enforce the peace treaties? The impartiality of the UN mission is questioned not only by Thompson’s presence but also by that of Carlos Reyes, a former navy captain currently employed at the UN, who turned out to be very close to Colombian armed forces. Italy should also make pressure on UN to know how it spends its funds (it is estimated that Italy pays the UN about 700 million euros a year), especially in relation to the UN mission in Colombia in which one of his co-workers was killed in an atmosphere of total silence and lack of cooperation in the investigation by the organization. An exhaustive, transparent and detailed report is also necessary in view of the fact that UN has been protagonist of very serious corruption scandals in the past. The most striking episode is represented by the Oil for Food scandal, in which the head of the Mission Benon Sevan received bribes directly from the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in exchange for a lightening of the controls regarding its oil trade, whose UN Mission was in charge of.
On 10 July, after a heated discussion with his bosses, Paciolla became restless and began to fear for his life. Since that moment, he started to call his parents every day, whereas before he contacted them only sporadically. We still do not have certainty about what happened, but many agree that Paciolla had been shocked by something he had seen or understood on that day. This hypothesis is also reinforced by the fact that on July 7, according to a friend of his, Paciolla was very calm. The 10th of July is therefore the key day in which something serious must very likely have happened. Paciolla may have received an order from his superiors that he did not want to execute out of ethical and moral reasons, from which he had the definitive proof of being in an opaque and corrupt situation and of being in Colombia not as a peacemaker, but as a pawn used by his superiors for economic and political purposes. According to a recent report on site, on July 14 Paciolla had an appointment with an activist friend of his in order to discuss an important personal matter. It is to be assumed that he wanted to discuss what happened on July 10 with his superiors and that, in the end, he decided not to go, probably considering appropriate not to involve her in the situation. Furthermore, the desperate attempts to bring his ex-girlfriend back to Italy, begging her to follow him, may hide an attempt to protect her by something that he had discovered and preferred not to disclose, having the strong suspicion that his computer was being hacked and controlled.
If Paciolla had managed to return to Italy, he could have probably revealed something shocking, having personally come into contact with sensitive data in a highly corrupt situation with multiple interests at stake. His murder could therefore have been executed to accomplish a dual purpose: on the one hand to prevent him from talking about the events of 10 July, on the other to give to the side of the UN mission which opposes the government the perfect punishment for having interfered with the Colombian internal politics, by causign the resignation of the former Minister of Defense Botero.
by Carlo di Gaeta