January 30, 2005

Why NGO Dead

I was going through this article on FARC's relations with Venezuela when I came to a chilling end note.

FARC terrorist Simon Trinidad's indictment last month includes information about the murder and kidnapping of American citizens in Colombia last year. Trinidad's actions were not exceptional; killing Americans is routine for FARC. For example, in 1999 FARC terrorists killed three American activists who were in Colombia on a humanitarian mission. They were Terence Freitas, 24; Ingrid Washinowatok, 41; and Lahe'ena'e Gay, 39.

Apprehended after attending a religious ceremony on an Indian reservation, Freitas, Washinowatok, and Gay were initially held for ransom but were later taken into Venezuela and executed in cold blood. Washinowatok, a New Yorker, was the head of the Fund for Four Directions, a Rockefeller-supported charity which helps indigenous peoples. Lahe'ena'e Gay was an award-winning Hawaiian photographer. Terry Freitas was an environmental activist from California. All three progressive activists had colorful life stories. Washinowatok, for example, was a Menominee Indian from Minnesota, daughter of a tribal chieftain, and personal friend of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu. She studied in Havana and is described by her friends as a champion of the oppressed. Her lifeless body, found just inside the Venezuelan border, was impossible to identify since her face had been destroyed by gunshot. The autopsy revealed that she had been forced to march barefoot through the jungle for several days despite having been bitten by a poisonous spider. She was only identified when her foundation's American Express card was found hidden in her clothing. Washinowatok and her friends were executed for one chilling reason: They were Americans.

I think that the last sentiment is not quite right. FARC wasn't going after these americans because of their nationality but because they were committing a great sin in FARC's eyes. They were usurping FARC's attempted local monopoly on connectivity. Without complete control over what those indians knew about the outside world, FARC would face a much harder task in recruiting men and getting material support. The americans had to go because they were as large a threat as a military team threatening their supply lines and were a lot easier to kill than the military because as good progressives, they no doubt were not too fond of military ties that might have helped protect them.

When progressives figure out that the connectivity that they bring is considered hostile action by so many of today's guerillas there will be a revolution in the NGO sector. Hopefully, there will be a minimum of bodies needed to teach that lesson.

Posted by TMLutas at January 30, 2005 08:43 AM