US Presence in Colombia: Drug Funded Parties with Prostitutes and Child Abuse
Twenty-two out of forty-three members of the U.S. House Oversight Committee, on Wednesday, signed a statement in which the lawmakers expressed that they had lost confidence in the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Michele Leonhart. The bipartisan statement was signed by 13 House democrats and 9 Republicans, including GOP Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and the top-Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
Chaffetz commented on Tuesday that DEA Chief Leonhart either should resign or be fired by U.S. President Barack Obama. Leonhart has been at the helm of the DEA since 2007 and played a pivotal role in the much criticized “war on drugs” that has led to mass incarcerations for minor drug offences in the USA and to widespread violence in Mexico. Chaffez described the behavior of Leonhard as appalling, while others described her behavior as “of the good old boy school”, reminiscent of the CIA and others going rogue.
An internal DEA report released on Tuesday suggests that government money was spent at paying prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official in Colombia while drug money was spent on sex parties with Colombian prostitutes in undercover houses. The Department of Justice report also recounts allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes, funded by Colombian drug cartels. The report does not specify whether DEA agents also were engaged in sexual abuse of minors.
In March 2015 the Colombian government and the largest Colombian rebel group FARC-EP, who are holding peace talks with the Colombian government in Cuba, issued a jointly commissioned 800-page report. The report documented, among others, that U.S. American soldiers and contractors had sexually abused scores of Colombian girls, including a 12-year-old. Suspects have allegedly not been prosecuted due to a bilateral agreement that endowed U.S. troops and contractors in Colombia with immunity.
In an article from March 2015, entitled “US Troops and Contractors abusing Scores of Colombian Children enjoyed “Immunity”, Christof Lehmann wrote that Renan Vega, a scholar at Bogota University’s Pedagogical Faculty and contributor to the report stressed in the 800-page report that:
“There exists abundant information about the sexual violence, in absolute impunity, thanks to the bilateral agreements and the diplomatic immunity of U.S. officials”.
The report documents the sexual abuse of 53 under-aged Colombian girls on a U.S. base near the central Colombian town of Melgar. The sexual abuse of these 53 girls was, moreover, filmed and sold as pornographic material.
Similar crimes were reportedly committed by U.S. military personnel and contractors at the Tolemaida Air Base. Also here, the perpetrators never faced charges due to the bilateral agreements and immunity.
One of the cases that attracted the attention of Colombian media was the abuse of a 12-year-old who was raped by a U.S. Army Sergeant and a former U.S. military officer who was working as military contractor in Melgar.
Colombian prosecutors would establish that the 12-year-old girl had been drugged and then repeatedly raped by US. Sergeant Michael J. Coen and contractor Cesar Ruiz.
Also this case had to be dropped due to the bilateral agreements and immunity, prompting outrage and indignation among Colombians.
Another 23 cases of sexual child abuse were reported in 2006 and another 14 in 2007. The total of documented cases that can be documented is estimated at about ninety cases in the years 2004 – 2007 alone, while there may be scores of unreported cases of child sexual abuse.
The Colombian government’s National Victims Unit reports that some 7,234 women have been registered as victims of sex crimes committed within the decades-long conflict.
The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Peace Delegates of the FARC-EP continue negotiations towards a just peace, which includes an objective attribution of responsibility for the suffering of the 7.2 million who have been afflicted by the civil war.
U.S. President Barack Obama, for his part, has deployed special U.S. envoy Bernie Arson to assist in the negotiations which are hosted in the Cuban capital Havana. One of Arson’s possible roles will be to respond to the victimization, including the sexual abuse of children while he admittedly, at the same time, has the role to maintain and protect U.S. interests.
The newly broken government and drug money funded DEA sex-party scandal adds to what Colombians increasingly perceive a U.S. American culture of criminal, imperialist arrogance, corruption, as well as disregard for human lives and children’s rights while the U.S. protects its citizens under the motto “immunity or else”.