Fifty-four Colombian girls were sexually abused by US troops and military contractors between 2003 and 2007, claims a new report by the country’s reconciliation commission. None of the perpetrators were ever prosecuted because US forces had immunity.
The claims are part of an 800-page report by an independent commission established by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group. The commission’s goal is to determine the causes and document the consequences of the civil war that has ravaged the country for 50 years and claimed over seven million lives.
“There exists abundant information about the sexual violence, in absolute impunity thanks to the bilateral agreements and the diplomatic immunity of United States officials,” Renan Vega, of the National University of Colombia in Bogota, told Colombia Reports.
Vega authored the portion of the report documenting the allegations of sexual abuse by US military personnel and contractors, deployed in the country under 'Plan Colombia' to back the government against FARC and cocaine cartels.
Most of the abuses allegedly took place in Melgar, a town in the province of Tolima, located 61 miles (98 km) southwest of Bogota. In one instance, contractors based at Tolemaida Air Base were abusing more than 50 underage girls and making pornographic videos.
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“Yes, we took her and we raped her. So what?”
Alleged words of US Sergeant Michael J. Coen to the mother of a 12-year-old rape victim.
The girl and her family left Melgar and moved to Medellin, claiming harassment and threats from the US-allied government forces.
The Colombian daily El Tiempo reported that Melgar was dealing with a ”a growing societal problem” of sexually exploited minors, “augmented by the presence of foreigners, especially those from the United States tied to oil and military endeavors.”
“In 2006 there were 23 reported cases of sexual abuse committed by active American soldiers and another 14 in 2007,” the website said. Colombia Reports was unable to confirm this claim with other online sources.
However, if this claim is confirmed, there would be more than 90 cases of sexual violence against women and children committed by American soldiers between 2004 and 2007 alone. Left-leaning news site El Turbion corroborated the numbers.
According to the government, 7,234 Colombian women were registered as victims of sex crimes during the conflict.
US President Barack Obama sent Special Envoy Bernie Aronson to Colombia to assist in the process of reconciliation in Colombia.
Aronson has so far met with President Juan Manuel Santos and, reportedly, with negotiation team members of the FARC and the government, and will be the intermediary between Bogota and Washington.
The special envoy will possibly have to deal with the role of the US military and its members in the alleged victimization of Colombians.
His most difficult task will be balancing the US government’s duty of “protecting American interests” — as he was reminded by Tea Party Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) — and trying to “stand by Colombians’ side in this journey,” as Aronson said himself.
Let's hope 'protecting American interests' doesn't mean protecting rapists, pedophiles and child abusers. There is never an excuse for that!