A report by the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), a national security think tank, revealed evidence Tuesday of extensive foreign influence in the ongoing leftist riots in Colombia, including the spread of misinformation by Asian social media accounts and infiltration by Venezuela’s socialist regime.
Colombia is nearing a month of violent riots nationwide, initially in response to a proposed progressive tax reform by President Iván Duque. Duque’s plan, which would have punished the middle and lowers classes amid an economic tailspin exacerbated by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, inspired outrage from both the left and his own right-wing party, the Democratic Center. Duque announced he would no longer support the proposal four days into a leftist “national strike” against it, but his move did nothing to halt the violence.
The “national strike” has consisted largely of firebombing police stations and setting police officers on fire. Another key activity of the rioters has been building blockades on key roads into major cities, particularly western Cali, to prevent necessary food and fuel goods from entering, thus starving out the population. Affected civilians have also reported looting, robberies of medical supply trucks, and home invasions by alleged “protesters.”
The organizers of the “national strike,” who have taken care to limit their personal prominence, have yet to offer the government a coherent set of demands it could fulfill that would end the violence. While many claim to be leaders of domestic Colombian unions and indigenous groups, the SFS report reveals communist terrorist groups with international ties such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have played a significant role in the ongoing riots.
In an attempt to maintain the legitimacy of the failed 2016 peace deal that former President Juan Manuel Santos signed with the FARC, the Colombian government refers to active FARC terrorists as “dissidents,” as opposed to the terrorists now enjoying uncontested seats in Congress and other perks as part of the agreement.
“We have determined that [involved in] the disorder and vandalism occurring in Cali in last days there are structures tied to drug trafficking, the ELN, and FARC dissidents,” Colombian Attorney General Francisco Barbosa Delgado announced in early May.
“Colombia’s Defense Minister Diego Molano reported on May 3 that at least six (6) criminal groups were behind the acts of vandalism and violence in Colombia, subverting the otherwise peaceful protests,” the SFS report noted Tuesday. “Among others, Minister Molano mentioned the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-D), National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Blue and Black Shields of the M-19 youth movement.”
SFS also noted that Colombian officials have arrested several high-ranking members of the ELN and FARC participating in violent attacks in Cali, as well as “unidentified Venezuelans.”
The narco-terrorist regime of socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro looms large over the Colombian riots, the SFS report detailed, by using oil and other natural resource riches to fund terrorism.
“The Maduro regime has fully embedded Venezuela’s asymmetric defense structure with the ELN and FARC-D, which have become binational narco-terrorist groups with equal presence in both countries,” SFS noted. “This structure is powered by two of the most important commodities in the world—oil and gold—combined with many major forms of illicit finance and drug trafficking.”
The Maduro regime announced its intention to destabilize its neighbors, including the United States, in 2019. Diosdado Cabello — a top Maduro henchman, television host, and accused drug lord — made the threat in his now-famous “Bolivarian breeze” speech. At the time, leftist riots had engulfed parts of Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, and Peru.
“What is happening in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Honduras is just a little breeze, and what is coming is a Bolivarian hurricane,” he said at the time. “[The] Bolivarian breeze will reach the United States and it will have someone who governs for the people.”
SFS noted that Cabello also threatened Colombia with “war” on his television program Con el Mazo Dando (“Hitting with the Mallet”). More recently, as the currently Colombia riots raged, Venezuela’s armed forces posted a photo on social media showing what appeared to be the annexation of part of Colombia into Venezuela.
Venezuela does not appear to be alone in fueling leftist riots in Colombia.
“According to a data-mining firm based in Miami, more than 7,000 troll accounts on social media are actively engaged in the current Colombia protests,” SFS noted. “The troll accounts are, according to the firm, aimed at blocking and spamming any comments or posts critical of the protests, while amplifying specific narratives and hashtags such as #NosEstanMatando [“they are killing us”] that show only one aspect of the on-the-ground reality in Colombia.”
“Most concerning is that the digital forensics reveals that these 7,000-plus troll accounts are managed by click farms in Bangladesh, Mexico, and Venezuela, possibly ran by servers in Russia and China,” the report observed.
The dissemination of false information to prevent peace in the country is not limited to the internet. In a particularly bizarre incident last week, scheduled talks between the mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, and individuals claiming to be “youth leaders” of the riots failed to materialize shortly after Ospina’s arrival to the dialogue site. As both sides began to settle for talks, unidentified “hooded individuals” appeared and began showing the youth leaders videos they claimed to be of government agents attacking an illegal roadblock just as talks were about to begin. Authorities ultimately confirmed that the videos were not of anything happening at the time and were not of any incidents in Cali at all, but not before a mob appeared and began threatening the assembled officials, forcing them to vacate the premises.
As of Tuesday, at least 50 people have died in nationwide riots, over 500 have disappeared, 25 women have reported being the victims of rape, and another 578 have suffered injuries.