Okay. Thank you.
This dramatic expansion of the state security apparatus has been unprecedented in the country's history, making Colombia's one of the largest armies in Latin America, with almost 432,000 personnel in 2008, of which 286,000 are in the Colombian military and 146,000 in the police forces.
The Colombian government has increased its defence spending by 142% during the last ten years. This money was supplemented by the infusion of $6 billion provided by the United States through Plan Colombia.
This might seem like the state may have advanced significantly in executing its sovereignty, so what's the frustration? Closer examination of the social and political content upon which this newly founded sovereignty is based may shed some light on the nature of this emerging state.
A key player in this emerging sovereignty has been the narco-paramilitary. Caruso launched a barbaric counter-insurgency campaign that targeted the civilian population on what they called “the social base of the guerrilla”. This led to the killings of thousands and the displacement of about three million people.
But more important for this presentation is the narco-paramilitary strategy of the co-opting of the entire state apparatus, from the local level to the central government, targeting almost all state institutions, including its congress, military, police, judicial system, and intelligence services. This process started during the Samper period, from 1994-98, and was perfected under President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who started in 2002 and is the current president of Colombia.
This strategy has been successful to a great extent, as evidenced by the number of elected officials that are currently under investigation for their ties with the narco-paramilitary groups. The latest tally, according to the Office of the Attorney General, is about 291 investigations against 115 governors and mayors, 8 House representatives, 9 senators, 18 council members, 3 deputies, and 115 officials in 17 different departments, this to be added to about 80 other congressmen and -women, members from the 2006 elections, who are either under investigation or sentenced. This is close to 30% of the entire congress--which, incidentally, approved the free trade agreement--that is compromised.
Moreover, about 800 members of the police force are being investigated for corruption, abuse of authority, and, of course, collaborating with paramilitary groups. This is according to the national inspector general of police, Roberto Leone Riaño. He added that during 2006 alone there were 30,000 members of the police force under investigation. That is about 21% of the entire police force under investigation for corruption or collaboration with the narco-paramilitaries.
The functioning of the DAS, which is the administrative security apparatus, is not any better. Its new director, Felipe Muñoz, called for its dissolution because of the high degree of penetration by the narco-paramilitaries. It was entirely corrupted from within, including the latest new paramilitaries under Cuchillo, who is one of the commanders of the new and emerging groups of paramilitaries.
About 116 agents from the DAS at all levels, according to the director, are being investigated for links to the narco-paramilitaries. This is in addition to 38 agents who were convicted. Currently, DAS activities in several departments have been suspended because most of the officials in these departments were accused of allegedly being connected with paramilitary groups, including particularly departments such as Casanare, La Guajira, Valle, Tolima, and Bolívar, and several others will possibly close their operations as well. This is a very serious thing in departments that are key for narco-trafficking.
The military has also been penetrated by these groups at different levels. There is an inconclusive list of 150 officials mentioned by paramilitary commanders as collaborators, of which at least a dozen are at the rank of general.
These are some illustrative examples of the type of co-opted state that is emerging today in Colombia, to be considered in this discussion.
The second important component of this presentation is rural economic conditions and the possible impact that this trade agreement could have. Colombia has a rural population of 15 million, which is close to 38% of its population, of which 60% would rely on agriculture for their livelihood. The remaining 40% depend on other types of employment. However, the important thing to note here is that the small and subsistence peasants produce 63% of the total food production of the country.
This contribution of small and subsistence persons who own plots of less than two hectares is the highest in Latin America. On average, small peasant properties of 1.8 hectares are responsible for producing 41% of agricultural output for domestic consumption, producing at the regional level 51% of the maize, 77% of the beans, and 61% of the potatoes. So the average production of Colombian small peasant and subsistence farming is basically higher than the regional standards. Nonetheless, in the whole region, small peasant production is still very significant to feed the population of the region.
According to several studies, the free trade agreements that the Colombian government has pursued with Canada, the U.S., and the EU do not consider the fate of the subsistence economy and small-scale farming, which is essentially conserving the country's food security. If we consider the past global food crisis and we desire peace, stability, sustainable development, and human security, it is imperative to reconsider the interests of subsistence and small-scale farming.
As a case in point, an Oxfam study anticipates that small-scale producers of wheat and barley will be the hardest hit by the FTA with Canada. Oxfam estimated that 12,000 families, or about 48,000 individuals, will be undermined by the free trade agreement, specifically those who are producing wheat. Wheat and barley will be hard hit by this agreement, and 50% of the Colombian pork industry, which basically is informal and employs about 90,000 people, is also expected to be hit hard by this agreement. These are basic figures, but again I suspect that maybe hundreds of thousands of individuals in small-scale production will be affected by the free trade agreements, specifically in the sectors of rice, sugar, cotton, beef, and milk.
Undermining the subsistence and small peasant economy will have three important consequences to be considered very seriously. The first one is a threat to the food security of Colombia.
Second, in a country where the grievances of the rural population have led to an ongoing civil war and have facilitated the expansion of illicit plantations, these three free trade agreements, if they do not consider in their articles a clear-cut protection safeguarding these vulnerable sectors, would be as if you were adding more incentives to violence and to the narco-economy.
Third and finally, if the current trends in the political economy of Colombia persist, in a decade or so it will be transformed into a net importer to feed its population, specializing in a few cash crops such as coffee, bananas, and African palm oil, alongside the mining sector for gold, coal, and oil. Such an economy, as you may know, leads to neither sustainable development nor to a sustainable peace, but rather to a continuation of what I have termed a “war system” in Colombia.