Above the President

The relevance of much of what happens in the world today escapes public scrutiny, compliments of the corrupt corporate media. This site aims to help change that. Topics include the UN, oil pipelines, monetary policy and the fate of empires.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Plan Colombia

Today, the Honorable Ron Paul of Texas issued a press release concerning his recent unsuccessful effort to reduce the amount of money (currently $735 million annually) the U.S. sends down to Colombia. Paul cited the usual (and honorable) reasons: drug production continues to soar in Colombia, it's not the business of U.S. taxpayers to help police Columbia, and so forth.

You can read Ron Paul's press release here:

Yet perhaps the Beltway politicians who overruled Paul have more at stake than just fighting a "well-intentioned" (albeit highly misdirected) Drug War. Consider first that the U.S. imports far more oil from Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador than it does from the Middle East. In fact, U.S. financial interests in the Persian Gulf have more to do with exporting dollars than they do with importing oil (also known as "petrodollar recycling"), although that's a topic for another day.

U.S. oil interests in Colombia are spearheaded mostly by the Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum, commonly known as OXY. OXY is a global behemoth, with operations in a number of countries around the world as its 2004 Annual Report to Shareholders incidates:


Occidental Petroleum's Global Operations (2004)

OXY's operations in Colombia are centered mostly around the Caño Limon oilfield, located in the northeastern part of the country, near the Venezuelan border. Its the country's second largest oilfield. Oil from this field is shipped directly to the Carribean port of Coveñas via the Caño Limon pipeline, which was completed in 1986. The pipeline is jointly owned by ECOPETROL and OXY. A Spanish company named Repsol also owns a stake in the Caño Limon oilfield. The crude oil transported through this pipeline represents about a third of Colombia's export income.


Caño Limon Pipeline

You can learn more on this Web site, operated by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization committed to nonviolence and justice:
Some factoids concerning Colombian oil production:
  • In the early 1980s, Colombia only produced about 100,000 barrels a day
  • This had rised to about 844,000 barrels a day by 1999
  • Colombia may have as much as 20 billion barrels of oil reserves
Another interesting factoid about Colombian oil production: since the Caño Limon pipeline was finished in 1986, it's been attacked by anti-government rebels at least 1,000 times, spilling at least 2.9 million barrels of crude oil into the forests and rivers(!) This is equivalent to 11 times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez. The Colombian Environmental Ministry estimates that nearly 1,625 miles of rivers have been polluted by these spills.

The most devastating attack came in 2001 at the hands of ELN, and managed to keep the pipeline closed for 266 days:


The Caño Limon pipeline was closed for
266 days in 2001, following an attack by ELN


Like all corporations, OXY writes off such losses by getting the U.S. taxpayer to underwrite its expenses. The company caused a bit of a stir in Washington in 2002 by asking the Bush administration for $98 million to help cover the cost of the damage done to the pipeline in 2001:
Yet there are even stranger links between American high finance and the Colombian drug lords. In June, 1999, Colombia's president Andres Pastrana arranged for Richard Grasso, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, to meet with Raul Reyes, the financial head of the FARC, in the cocaine-producing DMZ of Colombia. The two were caught on film in a warm embrace during an impromptu photo op:


NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso Warmly
Embraces FARC Thug Raul Reyes in 1999

Interestingly, Grasso isn't the only captain of American high finance to cozy up to Colombian drug lords. Several months after Grasso's visit, two members of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) flew to Colombia to meet with the founder of FARC, the 70-year-old Manuel Marulanda. After meeting with this drug terrorist, James Kimsey (co-founder and chairman emeritus of AOL) and Joseph Robert (head of the J.E. Robert Company, a global real estate company) flew to Bogota to consult with Colombia president Pastrana.


AOL Chief Kimsey Meets With
Colombian Drug Lord Marulanda

So what really is going on in Colombia?

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